One of the most significant advantages of selling on Amazon international marketplaces is that you dramatically increase your marketing reach. You're not just selling to those near your physical stores. Instead, you can potentially sell your products to the whole world.
Amazon has stores across the globe. You can reach millions of customers across 28 different countries shopping in Amazon's four American and nine European stores alone. Alongside this, Amazon has multiple stores in the Middle East and the Asia-Pacific region. And each year, Amazon opens new marketplaces in different parts of the world. So, it can provide global reach for your products.
It may seem daunting to sell on these Amazon international marketplaces, particularly if you are a small or isolated business. However, it is a relatively straightforward process to list your products in Amazon's global stores, and we will lead you through the steps in this article.
How to Sell on Amazon International Marketplaces in 2023:
How Amazon International Selling Works
Although Amazon is the world's largest store, it's important to remember how selling on Amazon works for most businesses. Amazon makes a clear distinction between two types of traders on the platform:
- Vendors – these firms (usually large) sell their products to Amazon's retail side, which in turn sells them to consumers
- Sellers – these firms sell their goods directly to consumers on Amazon under their own business name, using Amazon as a marketplace.
Most businesses trading on Amazon are sellers – they don't sell their goods to Amazon, but they sell on Amazon to customers. For example, in Amazing Amazon Statistics You Need to Know to Amplify Growth, we saw that 59% of the paid units sold on Amazon in Q4 2022 came from third-party sellers. However, JungleScout's 2022 State of the Amazon Seller found things even more extreme for small and medium businesses (SMBs). SMBs generate an annual revenue of less than $2 million on Amazon. In 2022, SMB Amazon sellers comprised 70% third-party Amazon sellers, 30% first-party Amazon vendors, and 7% who operate as both.
We also saw that Amazon has more than 175 fulfillment centers handling storage and shipping to over 100 countries and regions worldwide (covering a massive 150 million square feet of space.)
Approximately 59.3% of Amazon sellers reside in China, while the next most common home countries of sellers are the United States (34.8%), Hong Kong (4%), and the United Kingdom (0.6%). While some Amazon sellers restrict where they are willing to sell to their home nation or a few other countries, many are eager to sell internationally across the various Amazon stores.
In most cases, shoppers will go to the Amazon store of their choice, purchase the products that attract their eye, and open their wallets. If a seller uses Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA), they will already have some products in Amazon warehouses. In that case, Amazon will organize shipping and deliver the goods, no matter where the customer is (with some exceptions, like Russia currently). On the other hand, suppose a business opts not to use FBA, instead using Fulfillment by Merchant (FBM). In that case, they will be responsible for selecting, packing, and dispatching orders, regardless of which Amazon marketplace the order comes through.
Benefits of Amazon International Selling
According to JungleScout's 2023 State of the Amazon Seller, the most popular markets where Amazon sellers plan to expand are the European Union, Canada, the U.K., the USA (on top of the 80% of SMB sellers who currently sell there), and Mexico. Currently, the top Amazon international marketplaces for third-party sellers are the USA (80%), Canada (23%), the U.K. (15%), Germany (10%), and Mexico (10%).
By selling internationally on Amazon, you can increase your customer base massively. In addition, FBA can simplify this process, as it handles customer service and international shipping on your behalf.
Widening your market allows you to reach more people during various festivals and special events. In addition, by widening your market, you can receive a better return on your branding costs.
Where Can You Sell?
At the time of writing, Amazon has stores in:
- Amazon North America – an Amazon unified account servicing the US, Canada, and Mexico. Stores overseen by Amazon North America are Amazon USA (amazon.com – English language), Amazon Canada (amazon.ca – English language), and Amazon Mexico (Amazon.com.mx – Spanish language)
- Amazon Europe - an Amazon unified account that services 28 countries in Europe (although not Amazon Netherlands). Stores overseen by Amazon Europe are Amazon U.K. (amazon.co.uk – English traffic), Amazon Germany (amazon.de – German language), Amazon France (amazon.fr – French language), Amazon Italy (amazon.it – Italian language), Amazon Spain (amazon.es – Spanish language), Amazon Sweden (amazon.se – Swedish language), Amazon Poland (amazon.pl – Polish language).
- Stand-alone stores:
- Amazon Brazil (amazon.com.br – Portuguese language)
- Amazon Netherlands (amazon.nl – Dutch language – only became a full Amazon marketplace in March 2020, having previously only sold eBooks)
- Amazon Japan (amazon.co.jp – Japanese language – Chinese sellers dominate this marketplace)
- Amazon China (amazon.cn – Chinese language – sells and lists products from other Amazon markets)
- Amazon Singapore (amazon.sg – English language)
- Amazon United Arab Emirates (amazon.ae – English language)
- Amazon Saudi (amazon.sa – Arabic language)
- Amazon Australia (amazon.com.au – English language)
- Amazon India (amazon.in – English language)
- Amazon Turkey (amazon.com.tr – Turkish language)
Step-by-Step Guide to Selling Successfully on Amazon International Marketplaces
We have previously written an in-depth guide showing how to sell on Amazon. Although not specific to Amazon international marketplaces, many steps and processes will be the same, whether you're selling in a single Amazon marketplace or across all 28 global stores. Some of the important areas we cover in this article include the following:
- How to register on Amazon
- Your Amazon Seller Central Account
- Amazon FBA and how you can make the most of it
- Sales strategies you can employ
- Specific steps to selling on Amazon which include crafting a business plan, knowing your niche, looking for products, finding a supplier, coming up with a brand, listing your products, delivering your products, post-sales activity, and expanding
Step 1: Decide What You Want to Sell and Which Markets to Participate In
The first step is the same whether you sell internationally or restrict yourself to your home market: you must decide what products you should sell on the platform. Indeed, as we discussed in our A to Z Guide to Selling on Amazon, you should first ask yourself an even more fundamental question: should you start an Amazon business? It's important to ask yourself if selling on Amazon will be your best course of action.
In most cases, you probably shouldn't rely solely on Amazon for selling your products in the long term. There can be considerable competition on Amazon, and most businesses find it more profitable to spread their sales across multiple channels. So, by all means, use Amazon as your first channel, but plan on widening your sales options.
You should take the time to research suitable products to sell on Amazon. With more than 2 million third-party sellers on the platform, never mind the marketing goliath of Amazon itself, you can face extreme competition if you try and sell the wrong types of goods. According to Jungle Scout's 2023 State of the Amazon Seller Report, the most popular product categories are:
- Home & Kitchen
- Beauty & Personal Car
- Clothing, Shoes & Jewelry
- Toys & games
- Health, Household & Baby Care
- Sports & outdoors
- Pet Supplies
- Office Supplies
You need to consider how competitive each of these categories is. There is little point in trying to compete in an overly popular marketplace.
Another factor that may affect your decision-making is profitability. The average profit margin varies greatly between product categories. The categories with the highest average profit margin are:
As we summed up in our A-Z guide, the products you sell should be exciting, in demand, and interesting.
In terms of which markets you should participate in, you will want to consider the target audience for your products. Does their location make a difference to their potential demand for your products? There is little point in listing your pork products on Amazon Saudi, for instance. Likewise, if you sell electronics, you may have to meet specific electrical standards in various countries, and your products might have the wrong plugs or power supplies for some places.
Logistics may be a relevant factor, too, particularly if you have opted for Fulfillment by Merchant (FBM) rather than Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA). For example, you might be unable to cater to sales in more than one or a few markets. In addition, you might find fragile products challenging to ship, and if your products arrive damaged too often, this will affect your ratings and customer loyalty. You might also find shipping to some of the more distant markets too expensive to be practical for your products.
When considering expanding to an Amazon international marketplace, you will need to consider whether your business can operate using the local language. You have to provide good customer service, which is difficult if you can't understand what potential customers say. This is less of a factor if you use Fulfillment by Amazon. Amazon provides the Seller Central Language Switcher to assist with sales in the European and Japanese marketplaces. You can manage your operations in these Amazon marketplaces in English.
Step 2: Register and List Your Products
Once you've decided to sell on Amazon, you will first need to register as a seller and then list your products on each international marketplace where you've chosen to participate. You will need to translate your listings where necessary. Amazon provides the Build International Listings tool (BIL) to help you do this, adding your offers and synchronizing pricing across multiple marketplaces. Based on your rules, BIL manages pricing offers across the marketplaces for you through automated updates.
You will need to create a new seller account in each marketplace where you operate. However, this is not as daunting as it seems, as you only have to register once to sell in the Amazon North America stores. Likewise, by registering with Amazon Europe, you gain access to the stores in their network.
You will find some requirements specific to each Amazon international marketplace. For instance, if you register to sell in the USA, you must go through an online step-by-step interview to determine whether you need to complete a W-9 form (as a U.S. taxpayer) or a W-8BEN (as a non-U.S. taxpayer).
If you are a Pro Seller, you only have to pay subscription fees corresponding to the marketplace where you first register to sell.
Although registering in one of the unified markets increases the number of markets where you can sell without registering every time, you will still need to list your products separately in each marketplace. For example, creating a listing at amazon.com doesn't automatically populate your listings on amazon.ca or amazon.mx.
Currently, Amazon's Indian marketplace (amazon.in) is only open to sellers with a locally owned business in India.
Product listing requirements may differ depending on the marketplace, so it's important to check local guidelines. For example, listings need to be in the language of the Amazon marketplace where you intend to sell. The Build International Listings (BIL) tool helps you create and update listings across multiple Amazon marketplaces with your Unified Account.
If you are a brand owner, register your brand on Amazon Brand Registry to protect your registered trademarks on Amazon and create an authentic and trusted experience for customers.
Step 3: Ship and Fulfill Your Orders
One of the early decisions you will have to make is your delivery model: Fulfillment by Seller (FBS) aka Fulfillment by Merchant (FBM), where you take responsibility for sending your products to your customers, or Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA), where you leave the logistical issues to Amazon.
With FBS/FBM, you store your products and ship them to customers when they purchase them. However, if you opt for FBA, you send your inventory to Amazon's fulfillment centers, and they handle the shipping when they sell.
If you are selling in international marketplaces, Fulfillment by Amazon will usually get your goods much faster to the customer because Amazon has fulfillment centers worldwide. But, of course, the fees are much higher for this service. On the other hand, FBS/FBM gives you much more flexibility for less cost. If you already have a shipping bench, boxes, packing tools, and supplies, along with the time to do it, this might be best for you.
It doesn’t matter whether you choose the FBM or FBA approach, this step of the process remains challenging and you’ll need extra help. You can, for example, try out a third-party platform like Pacvue Commerce that has a strong focus on Amazon.
Included in its list of solutions is digital shelf optimization that shares inventory forecasts, among other things. What’s more, this solution can also help you to identify and analyze product-related problems quickly and set rules that send tickets to retailers automatically. Then, to help you stay up to speed with all the numbers, Pacvue can combine your inventory data with other important sales, pricing, and ads figures in a customized dashboard.
Step 4: Manage Your Amazon Business
When you expand your business to an Amazon marketplace outside your home country, you need to understand your obligations in the import/export process. Many sellers hire a logistics provider, such as a customs broker or a freight forwarder, to handle this process.
Amazon.in and amazon.cn have unique registration and selling requirements for sellers outside India and China.
Ideally, you should have customer service specialists who understand your products, know where a customer's product is and when it will be delivered and will be able to respond quickly (within 24 hours) to customer e-mail contacts in the local language. This may be particularly challenging for small businesses operating in different time zones to their customers. However, if you use FBA, Amazon provides 24-hour customer support on your behalf in the local language of the relevant marketplace.
If you aren't using FBA, Amazon has a requirement that you must either provide customers with a local return address within the country of their Amazon marketplace website or offer them free shipment for returns. In some situations, it might be appropriate to charge the customer a restocking fee or provide a partial refund on the returned product.
Amazon has recently made things easier for sellers by allowing you to link your North American, European, and Japanese seller accounts with Linked Accounts and manage your sales on one page. However, be wary of having more than one seller account within one Amazon marketplace. Amazon only permits this in a few specific situations and has suspended more sellers for linking their accounts (within one country) than for any other reason.