Hopefully, you already understand why you should be selling on Amazon Europe. Now it’s just a matter of how to do it. Selling internationally on Amazon can be simple if you take advantage of Amazon’s services in Europe and allow their offerings to streamline your business expansion.
1. Choose your “home” marketplace
Amazon Europe has 5 marketplaces: UK, Germany, Italy, Spain and France. You can use one Seller Account across all 5 marketplaces, but you must determine where the majority of your products will be distributed from.
Keeping your products in the US to ship overseas is an option, but it comes at a high price for you and your buyers. Fulfillment by Merchant is possible from the EU, but you have to must handle 3rd party storage and distribution.
When selling on Amazon Europe, if you choose Fulfillment by Amazon, your home marketplace has to be overseas, but you have options between single or multi-country distribution.
2. Determine your fulfillment method: FBM vs FBA
FBM can take place from the US or EU and both come with a unique set of challenges. Keeping and distributing your product from the US might seem simpler but will actually be more costly since you have to pay international shipping fees per order, which can range anywhere from $22 to a couple hundred dollars.
FBM from the EU can lower exorbitant shipping costs, but you have to research reputable 3rd party distribution centers to set up storage and manage shipping from their facility. And, you may still not be Prime eligible.
If you’re considering FBA, there are three options: European Fulfillment Network (EFN), Multi-country Inventory (MCI) or Pan-European FBA, each with their own pros, cons and fee structures.
EFN allows you to store and ship your product from the Amazon EU distribution center of your choice, shipping to other countries when ordered. It also allows for Prime eligibility.
MCI allows sellers to store their product in multiple countries’ distribution centers and to be Prime eligible in each country where stock is held.
Pan-Euro FBA allows Prime eligibility in all 5 countries with storage in one distribution warehouse, but Amazon redistributes product stock to other countries’ warehouses based on where they perceive demand will be highest.
3. Research your international legal obligations, or hire someone else to
While you can do the research and contact the right overseas parties yourself, it may be best to save yourself a headache and just hire a lawyer if you don’t have one already. A lawyer specialized in international law can outline the legal, tax and compliance obligations you must follow in each country, as well as determine the specific EU labeling and warranty laws you are obligated to observe.
In many cases, Europe is stricter than the US in terms of labeling and product compliance, with conformity markings that are EU-wide as well as specific product restrictions and compliance obligations that are distinct within each country. Investing in quality assistance could save you from future legal nightmares or having your listing removed for lack of compliance.
4. Register for a VAT and EORI number
Unless you plan to sell FBM from the US, you will need to apply for both a Valued Added Tax (VAT) and Economic Operator Registration and Identification (EORI) number. An EORI number is required by all merchants selling overseas (FBA or FBM) in order to import goods, and unless you’re selling a low-cost product that you believe will have low profit margins (which is rarely the aim), then you’ll need to register for VAT too.
VAT is essentially a consumption tax applied to the value of goods and services bought and sold in the EU. Unlike in the US, where tax is added near the end of a transaction, in the EU, VAT taxes are incorporated into retail prices, and these taxes must be reported and sent to the government. *
5. Address language barriers
Although there is no requirement to provide customer service in the language of each country you are selling in, doing so will significantly boost the customer experience and has the potential to increase sales. Your listing’s copy, however, MUST be in the language of the country you are selling to.
If you sell FBA, you have access to Amazon’s 24/7 customer service team in the language of the marketplace where it was purchased. Amazon does not translate the listing into the local language, so whether you sell FBM or FBA, your listing must be readable for the local population. The best, and most profitable option would be to either hire a reputable translation service or find a company with local-speaking copywriters to write the international Amazon listing for you.
Even in countries like the UK where English is spoken, there are different words and colloquialisms that US sellers would be wise to take into account when building relevant keyword lists and listing products. For example, if you’re selling a water pitcher in the UK, calling it a pitcher may not be as profitable since many across the pond use the term jug and would be less likely to search for pitcher.
6. Localize your listing(s)
Beyond localizing in terms of language online, most EU countries require labels and packaging materials to be in the local language. This is another area where an international business lawyer could assist in terms of proper compliance. And, when listing, don’t forget that the EU uses the metric system for all their measurements, so a 7 inch long phone case would actually be 18 centimeters.
Sellers should also keep in mind the constantly fluctuating conversion rate between the dollar and the pound or euro when determining price point. In addition to language, metric and pricing differences, categories are also unique within each country, and consumer expectations of appropriate products for specific categories may differ as well.
With these considerations in mind, you can begin to imagine what it will take and what selling on Amazon Europe might cost. Research and seeking out the proper resources is key when listing and selling overseas. Head over to amazon.de or amazon.co.uk and research your product markets using Market Intelligence International. You can scope out the competition and start calculating potential profit. When you’re ready to cross the pond, schedule an international launch in your Viral Launch dashboard, and start dominating selling on Amazon Europe.
*The employees of Viral Launch are not lawyers, nor does this blog provide legal advice. If you need legal advice, please contact an attorney directly.