If you are running an Amazon business, you will always be thinking about the next step for growth and one of the best ways to grow your business is to widen your reach and sell your products or services in more international markets.
Expanding territories can be one way to bring your product to a new market and audience yet selling globally is a daunting prospect for many businesses and may often seem out of reach.
It does not need to be though with Amazon. The platform’s global infrastructure means you can roll out a global selling strategy to engage with audiences across multiple markets relatively easily and the investment needed is often significantly cheaper than investing in a traditional global selling strategy.
However, selling and succeeding on Amazon internationally is not as simple as listing your products in more markets. It requires a detailed strategy like any selling initiative, and there are several different ways in which you can use the platform to engage with your target audience.
Amazon provides tools to simplify global selling through its channels, but you must remember that the platform is a competitive marketplace with millions of global players, and you need to stand out to be a success. Also, some of the tools from Amazon are designed to make it easier to sell internationally, but not often the most successful way of doing it.
When selling on Amazon, you need to invest in marketing, sales, and fulfilment solutions and understand the markets that you are selling to. Similarly, you need to understand any currency exchanges and taxes that you may be eligible to handle internally as a business – again, it is not as straightforward as simply listing a product on Amazon, particularly in the USA or Europe (thanks to Brexit).
Amazon may have the largest e-commerce global footprint, but you still need to be considerate of the nuances of each country, culture, and region to be successful.
As an Amazon agency, we have helped multiple clients expand into new territories. Here are our top tips on how you can successfully pivot and introduce a global Amazon selling strategy for your brand.
Get to grips with Amazon
Amazon is unlike any other e-commerce or marketplace website. It is a customer-centric company that has a range of constantly changing guidelines and some of these guidelines vary on a country-by-country basis. It is important to fully understand the platform, how it can work for your business and how you are going to introduce it in each region you are considering.
Amazon can offer you fulfilment in each country support, but at a cost, so you must decide what services you will require from Amazon and what you can manage already internally.
Allowing Amazon to handle your fulfilment in any territory typically gives you the Amazon Prime badge, which is essential to success, but you also need to consider any challenges you have around getting stock into each country and through customs successfully before getting it to Amazon.
Often, a 3PL can be handy for taking care of this for you but it does come at an additional cost.
Build a global selling strategy
If you believe that Amazon is the right marketplace for your product then there are several steps to take before investing in Amazon.
You will need to create a global selling strategy that will help you determine who your customer is, how you will drive them to your product, who your competition is and how you will differentiate your products.
This is good basic marketing but needs to be considered before you turn to Amazon and expect your international sales to simply flourish. Is your product the fit right for the market you are entering, is it priced correctly and is it culturally appropriate for where you are intending to sell?
Assuming this is all good, it is important you do not skip the Amazon basics and begin by optimising your product pages with great localised content, strong imagery with infographics fully translated and keyword rich, localised titles with appropriate search terms and keywords.
Planning all of this out at the early stage is crucial to ensure that you stand a chance of succeeding in a new international market.
Focus on your best-selling products
When launching into a new territory, you may have a wide range of products that you can introduce to the market. However, you do not want to stretch yourself too thin. Focus on your core products; the ones that you think will be most successful in the new market based on research, data, and insight.
This will mitigate your stock placement risk and avoid you spending on sending un-saleable items or trying to run a strategy for too many products when you only have the resource to launch a few successfully.
With any Amazon market, your business model is always more sustainable when you have deeper sales on the lines you are selling, so focussing on generating great sales on a few lines, will always be simpler and more profitable than driving good sales on a lot of your lines. When you throw in the logistical challenges of moving goods abroad, this becomes even more important.
Ensure that the selected products that you are taking to that market meet any international retail and fulfilment rules and can be delivered to your customers. It is important to also price your product competitively for the local market (not just converting your price), especially if you are entering a crowded marketplace.
Get to grips with fulfilment
Once you are listed on Amazon, you could experience an influx of orders, but is your business prepared for this? Getting to grips with fulfilment is therefore crucial.
While Amazon provides fulfilment services (Fulfilment by Amazon – FBA) and customer support for your shipments, these come at an additional cost, which for some products might not be economical but are vital to get the Prime badge.
Running your international business on Fulfilment by Merchant (FBM) may seem more appealing for those with stock placement challenges in new markets, but it is often detrimental to your longer-term strategy unless the majority of your product category also trade via FBM.
Research your fulfilment capacity as a business and decide on whether this needs to be outsourced to meet any potential demand from a new marketplace and to work through the import and duty requirements of your target countries
Build loyalty and positive reviews
Building loyalty and cultivating positive reviews are crucial to helping your brand and products find success on Amazon and brands are rewarded by the retailer accordingly.
Amazon will emphasise your product pages if they receive positive customer reviews and you will also place higher when customers use reviews as search criteria. Genuine customer feedback is the strongest form of advertising for your brand and building this in a new market is challenging.
Make use of all available Amazon review schemes in your new territories (Vine, ERP) to get high levels of initial reviews as quickly as possible to gain traction.
If you can achieve customer satisfaction and merit, then you will succeed as a global Amazon seller and gain traction and growth in international markets that would otherwise be unreachable.
Think carefully about using Pan European fulfilment
A great example of where Amazon makes it easy for brands to expand internationally is through their pan EU (and Pan North America) shipping programs. These allow brands to put products into one country (i.e. Germany) and then Amazon will automatically distribute your goods to regional warehouses (i.e. France, Spain) to allow you to sell in these countries.
This may seem advantageous and can speed up a launch into multiple markets, but it does limit a brand strategically. On the Pan EU program, the content of your Amazon listings can be localised, but your images cannot, leaving French customers seeing German infographics and ultimately limiting your ability to sell in the longer term.
Thinking carefully about your longer-term ambitions in a market should shape your fulfilment approach, rather than just accepting the programs that Amazon opens.