Taking Your Business International with Lucy Marshall from World First (Follow the Data Ep. 13)

Follow the Data Episode 13: Taking Your Business International with Lucy Marshall from World First

 

Amazon Europe is as big as Amazon US. Could going international be the next great move for your FBA business? Join Viral Launch CEO Casey Gauss and co-host Cameron Yoder as they talk with Lucy Marshall from World First about incredible opportunity that is Amazon international and how to make the most out of overseas earnings.

Follow the Data Show Notes

 

Podcast Transcript

CAMERON YODER:

Hey, everybody. Cameron here with Viral Launch. We’re here in Austin, Texas, recording a special episode. Today we are going to talk about internationalization, and it’s internationalization involved with a company called World First. And we’re going to get into a lot of different things today involved with internationalization. But for now I guess I’ll just pass the mic around the table for some introductions.

 

CASEY GAUSS:

Hey, guys. Casey here. Yeah, hopefully we can bring you guys some decent value as you look to expand internationally. Or maybe you’re an international seller looking to sell in the US.  Or maybe you already are. We just want to help make sure that you are being as efficient as possible, making sure you have as much capital as possible to drive success behind your business.

 

LUCY MARSHALL:

And hi, I’m Lucy Marshall over at World First. I work on our e-commerce team here working with sellers directly to help them take advantage of new marketplaces and have worked previously for private label brands, so kind of understanding from both the brand perspective and the payments international end of that, how to make your brand successful overseas.

 

CAMERON YODER:

So like Casey touched on a little bit before, we’re trying to provide value for you, whether you’re expanding into international markets, or you’re thinking about expanding into international markets, or just even with your consideration in expanding your private label business in general. We’re going to talk a lot today about kind of everything having to do with those ideas. Part of that will be really having Lucy here explain what World First is and how sellers can prepare for something like expanding into international markets when it comes to what World First provides. So let’s get started.

 

Lucy, can you explain, just to everyone, give a basic overview of what World First is, like just simple as that?

 

LUCY MARSHALL:

Absolutely. So what we are is an international payment solution, and we work with corporations and e-commerce sellers to help them send and receive money globally.

 

We were founded in the UK back in 2004, and really our founder was working at Citibank and kind of saw an opportunity in the market for small- to medium-sized businesses to get better rates for their FX transfers. And that’s kind of blossomed the idea of World First and really being able to give those businesses better access to better rates than some of the larger banking platforms were. Our e-commerce solution really started coming into play in 2007 and coming truly to support the US market in 2014.

 

Now as we stand about to roll into 2018 we’ve worked with over 40,000 e-commerce sellers with offices worldwide. Whether you’re selling, you know, in China, Japan, Australia, UK, EU, US, Canada, we’ve got someone there to support you and really make sure your business is a success in that market.

 

CAMERON YODER:

So let’s say a – because you don’t only deal with private label sellers and Amazon, right? Like it’s businesses involved with international transactions, in general?

 

LUCY MARSHALL:

Absolutely, absolutely. I mean outside of Amazon itself, we’re compatible with 72 marketplaces globally, so it’s not strictly Amazon. Additionally, if you’re a company with an entity in the US and EU we’re able to send those funds back and forth. If you have suppliers overseas you need to make payments to, we can facilitate those payments as well. So it’s not strictly online businesses, but truly any business that needs to make payments or receive payments globally in different currencies.

 

CAMERON YODER:

So if a private label seller on Amazon comes to you and says – well, is just interested in what you do, what would you tell them, like specifically for them?

 

LUCY MARSHALL:

So for them what I would say is we’re an international payment solution that will allow for you to set up receiving accounts worldwide. The benefit of being a private label business is you’ve worked to build this brand. Let’s say you want to take that brand to the UK without actually having to make an entity in the UK. We’re able to set up a receiving solution for you so that that way you can receive pounds or receive the local currency and send it back to your US account at about half the cost of what a marketplace would charge. So we’re automatically adding about 2% to your bottom line without any opening fees, monthly fees or closing fees, and it allows for you to move your money from those global markets worldwide.

 

CAMERON YODER:

So we talked – now that we, I think everyone kind of has a pretty general understanding of what World First is and, or where you guys came from, let’s touch on just internationalization in general, right. So can you tell us from your perspective and World First’s perspective, what are the advantages to selling internationally?

 

LUCY MARSHALL:

There are so many. I am like the world’s biggest advocate for selling outside of the US right now because I think there are so many fantastic opportunities even just looking at different selling opportunities. Like you’ve got Boxing Day in the UK, and that’s not something we have access to in the States. There is Singles Day in China. If you start selling in the new Australian market that launched you have seasonality, so if you have a summer product in the US and you want to sell that in Australia during the winter you have that opportunity to sell that worldwide. And so for me those are all those advantages, and especially taking advantage of newer markets, it’s less competition. It’s more opportunity. And then even with exchange rates, if you’re selling in the UK it’s often a higher price point, and so you’re getting more return as you’re converting those funds back and those sales back from the UK.

 

CASEY GAUSS:

Yeah, and building off of what Lucy is talking about, you know collectively – I think we’ve said this before – but collectively the Amazon EU is just as large as Amazon US. And like Lucy said, so much easier to drive success in these markets because competition is so much lower. Obviously there are some hurdles there, and World First is helping you kind of step over some of those. But there is so much opportunity international. We’re super bullish on internationalization and, you know, making sure you’re selling everywhere as much as possible. Amazon is really pushing Amazon EU markets, and so like, you know, Amazon EU is like getting into Amazon US two years ago, maybe three years ago, where competition is just a fraction of what it is now, and you get to essentially ride that wave of success as Amazon continues to grow their dominance in these markets. And so you know, we actually, here in Austin, at Capitalism Conference with Ryan Moran, we actually just met these two guys. After apparently eight months of taking Amazon successfully these guys just reached the $10 million mark.

 

CAMERON YODER:

They’re killing it.

 

CASEY GAUSS:

Which is absolutely insane, while going to college – one of them is going to college. And they don’t sell in the US. They’re only selling an international Amazon markets because there is so much opportunity. You know, one of the guys was saying just by the fact that they have a Spanish speaker write their listings for Amazon Spain they’ll get ranking because their keyword structure is so much better. Their listings are so much better written because they have – one of them is a native Spanish speaker. He’s from Venezuela. And he’s just able to write really great listings, and that allows them to rank. So competition is just like, you know, a shadow of what it is in the US, but the opportunity collectively is the same.

 

CAMERON YODER:

And they have a slight advantage over people in the US having grown up in Europe and kind of understanding the European market. That being said, that – I think their story really shows that’s a very tangible thing to tell you guys that hey, the European market, or the worldwide market is very much alive. Obviously that’s a lot of good opportunity that is there, and they’re not even selling in the US market.

 

CASEY GAUSS:

Those guys are super smart guys. Like they were going to Dartmouth, and then now he’s going to Cambridge studying mathematics and finance. So they are very smart guys.

 

CAMERON YODER:

It’s not like you can just pull a trigger and it just like magically happens.

 

CASEY GAUSS:

But there’s huge opportunity, for sure.

CAMERON YODER:

Okay, so let’s talk a little bit about the UK market specifically. So if someone – let’s say you have a seller in the US who wants to sell in the UK as maybe like their first step internationally. From your perspective and from what you’ve seen, what would be like a good kind of tangible first step leading to that?

 

LUCY MARSHALL:

So obviously I think first step looking into any market is looking how your product is going to perform in that market and making sure that you’re actually going to be able to make sales from that. No one wants to throw spaghetti against a wall and put their product in Amazon FBA and be like fingers crossed, hope this works. So again, I think that’s such a fantastic thing that Viral Launch can help you with and looking at what your product can do in that market. Next steps from there are a little bit more admin. Like do you have your VAT numbers, which is value-added tax? And Amazon has really been cracking down on that in the past year. I think the stat was they lost out on $1.28 billion in VAT fraud from Amazon sellers specifically not necessarily paying it. And so the UK government has been really upset with Amazon, which means Amazon is like yo, you’ve got to get your VAT numbers in because we will shut down your account. So getting those set up, making sure you have those implications in place ready to pay those taxes. Our service specifically can help you make those payments so that way you’re making a pound-to-pound payment and not having to bring those pounds back to dollars and then send the VAT payment in pounds again.

 

Next steps from there, shipping, and then translating your labels and your listings if you are private label and selling on those markets. Luckily UK is English-speaking, so not a ton of leg work there. A little bit of localization to make sure – let’s say if you’re selling pants, they become trousers on that marketplace, making sure things are finessed a bit to that space.

 

CASEY GAUSS:

I really think – well, there’s one area that I see a lot of people focus on when it comes to money, and that’s tax. Like a lot of people, when they think about expanding internationally they think oh, all I need to do, all I need to do is have my taxes, my tax system set up and set in place. They don’t often think about having like a bank set up –

 

LUCY MARSHALL:

Right.

 

CASEY GAUSS:

– right? Or this money transfer system set up in place. Do people need to have, need to have or should have like a bank set up in like the UK, or is that something that –?

 

LUCY MARSHALL:

You don’t necessarily need to have the banking account in the UK, and this is truly where our service comes into play, right? Like if you’re opening a physical bank account you have to pay fees, you have to have a business over there. You have to have a physical entity and then be paying taxes to that country and paying taxes on your business there. If you’re opening an account with us the beauty is we’re able to collect those funds in one of our virtual accounts. You have the banking and routing number and everything that goes along with that. And if you’re choosing to just use a marketplace to manage your FX transfer, they’re typically transferring that at a much higher rate, and they’re doing it biweekly, so that’s not giving you any control or transparency as to how or when to move your funds. If you’re using a platform like ours we can collect the funds, and then you have access to a platform much like your online banking platforms where you can facilitate a trade. You can watch the rates, be aware of what rate exactly you’re moving your funds at, and then we’re usually coming close to cutting those rates in half, so saving up to 2% on your bottom line. So if you are selling, say, 10,000 pounds a month, that’s saving you $200 on your transfers coming back. So that’s not a small fee by any stretch. And again, as you continue to grow your sales that becomes a much bigger chunk of your sales that you should be getting back because you’ve put in all this hard work to get to new markets. Make sure you’re taking the most home from those markets.

 

CAMERON YODER:

Is there a simple way to explain like, okay, let’s say we have a seller in the US again who sells in the UK. What does a simple process look like to get that money back into the United States? Like can you break that down a little bit?

 

LUCY MARSHALL:

Yeah, the flow of funds you mean?

 

CAMERON YODER:

Yeah, yeah, yeah.

 

LUCY MARSHALL:

Yeah, so what – right now if you were a US seller selling into the UK you would be putting your US bank account into that space. You would put our routing account numbers in there, and that’s in the name of your business. So Amazon now deposits funds into that account, and then we move that back when you’re ready. It’s either an automatic transfer, or you can transfer that online when you’re ready to. If you are a rate watcher and want to see, hey, I saw this go up to, you know, 1.3 today. I’d like to do it at that rate. So there’s really no difference in terms of timing or flow of funds. It’s just Amazon deposits to us, and then we move that back to your US account.

 

CAMERON YODER:

Okay. What do you see as like maybe the number one or maybe even top couple mistakes that people are making when it comes to like, I don’t know, money transfer and/or sales internationally?

 

LUCY MARSHALL:

It’s a complete lack of awareness. I think really one of our biggest hurdles as we’re talking to new sellers is they’re not aware that this FX transfer is occurring, and they’re not aware of what rate that that’s happening at. So to me if you’re not watching your bottom line as a seller, like that’s a problem. You need to be making sure that you are getting the most of your sales home. So we’re able to kind of calculate that, and you can look at, say, a daily rate of when Amazon’s transferring your funds and then you know, dividing that by the amount you’re getting back. And usually you can figure out what that daily rate is and through a percent change calculation see, oh, that’s roughly maybe like 4% of my bottom line. And that’s not necessarily super competitive. And also you have no control over it, so that stinks, too. Like you should be in charge of your own money and how and when that’s being moved back.

 

CAMERON YODER:

Talking about like money saved, right, because this – so this whole process, the goal is to really help sellers save money through a process that maybe they’re not even aware of.

 

LUCY MARSHALL:

Right.

 

CAMERON YODER:

How – do you know how much a typical seller will save after like becoming aware of something like this and getting involved with these transactions?

 

LUCY MARSHALL:

Yeah, and typically that depends on size of the seller, how much you’re moving back. But I would say on average, again, if you’re at that 10,000 pound mark we’re saving about $200 on every transfer. So that’s kind of our best rule of thumb. Obviously if you’re selling like 10 million pounds or something in that range yearly that’s a much, much bigger number. So that does vary depending on the size of the seller and how much you’re bringing home.

 

CASEY GAUSS:

Yeah, and so how long does it take to set up this whole World First process?

 

LUCY MARSHALL:

It’s super easy. It’s really only four documents that we need to get you set up. As long as those come in we can have your account set up in a matter of hours, and then the accounts are able to allocate immediately. We have RMs, relationship managers, in-house that can walk you through where and how to put this in on Amazon so everything is done correctly, it’s Amazon-compliant, and then they will walk you through your first trade as well. So it’s really helpful to actually have a voice on the phone and someone to actually talk to rather than, you know, screaming at a computer. I feel like we all do that enough in our day-to-day lives that don’t have to do it on the banking end of things as well.

 

CASEY GAUSS:

Yeah, so I mean just to break it down, I know everybody’s always so crunched for time. I mean apparently, you know, this is something that you can do in a matter of hours, let’s say, at the most, and you will save hundreds to thousands of dollars a month, which just really adds up over the course of a year, especially when you’re talking about being able to purchase more inventory, get a little bit cheaper rates on your inventory, so you save more money there. And you can – it really just compounds. And so as long as it’s quick, 2% really adds up, especially when you start getting into volume and you add that up over time.

 

CAMERON YODER:

Right. This is something that not many people know about, especially when it comes to international stuff. I think one thing that is kind of at fault with US sellers is just awareness with all the systems in place, like in VATs. And the story of the guys that we talked about before, the thing about them is that they, again, grew up in that area. And so they definitely have – they’re smart guys, number one, but number two, they do have a pretty good understanding of the space and the area that they’re in, which is Europe. And that definitely has an advantage. And so being aware of something like this, as well as being able to save money to put towards your other resources, like something like this is something that not a lot of people are aware of that we want to provide value to you by making you aware of or having you be aware of it. So Lucy, talking specifically about World First, what unique perspective does World First offer sellers on Amazon?

 

LUCY MARSHALL:

It’s really the perspective of smartly managing your finance. I mean we are – we really focus on that payments end of it and making sure we’re creating a solution where not only if you’re selling on the UK, but if you’re selling on China, if you’re selling on Japan, if you’re figuring out how to take advantage of that new Australian market, we want to put the pieces in place for you to be able to manage those different aspects of your business and be smart about it financially. In addition to that we do have a very vast partner network. So if you do need help figuring that out we’re kind of a jack of all trades, masters of none outside of that payment space. So we’re really able to figure out where to connect you there, and I just think there’s so much opportunity outside of the domestic US market to go take advantage of that and then really make sure you’re savvy with both your receiving payments from Amazon, but also paying for, and suppliers paying for, and employees, and making sure you have a frictionless way to move your money globally.

 

CAMERON YODER:

So if, let’s say some of our listeners are even just a little curious about what you’re talking about. What resources would you have for them to even just point them in a specific direction or to get in touch?

 

LUCY MARSHALL:

Yeah, and there are a couple of different ways. You can just go sign up online. I mean I will give you all  my email to post after this. Please reach out directly. I’m more than happy to field calls or answer questions about something. Really our biggest resource are our people. Everyone’s highly educated, not only in the world of FX, but in e-commerce, as well. So I would put ourselves forward as our best resource to do that in addition to, you know, the content we’re putting out on our blog, as well.

 

CAMERON YODER:

Yeah, gotcha.

 

LUCY MARSHALL:

Recently we’ve been working not only with sellers that have already expanded to the international markets, but really looking at how we can support those that want to take advantage of it as well. And so we’ve really relied on partners in the field of VAT, shipping, logistics and translation to help kind of those admin pieces of like where do I start to figure out to get my product overseas and get my listings set up and make sure you’re government-compliant with everything that’s happening in the UK and EU as well. So truly I feel like you all are the best first stop for our clients because you’re able to figure out where in the market does someone’s product fit, and will that be successful? And then we can kind of help through the nuts and bolts in terms of figuring out VAT, shipping and the payments piece of it as how you figure out how to manage your global payments.

 

CAMERON YODER:

Got it.

 

Thank you guys so much for tuning in. Again, if you have any questions feel free to shoot us an email. We’ll provide all of the content from this podcast in the description.

 

Rebecca Longenecker

Rebecca Longenecker

Marketing Project Specialist at Viral Launch
Rebecca Longenecker

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