So, you’ve been seeing impressive sales in your local marketplace and you’re wondering what’s next for your business? Perhaps you’ve been looking to the international market to expand and grow your ecommerce brand?
Before making the jump to global superstardom, there are some risks to consider . As it turns out, many ecommerce business owners still believe that selling products globally presents too much of a challenge – 80% of Amazon US sellers have less than 10% of international sales due to language barriers and compliance constraints.
While it’s true that successful international expansion does take a little more than just a dose of know-how and a dash of expertise, Amazon Global and FBA have made great strides in helping marketplace sellers make that important move from local to international. Sellers are beginning to see the huge potential that exists in the hugely lucrative market that exists worldwide – and want a piece of the action.
At BRANDED, we are experts in rapidly scaling e-commerce businesses into global powerhouse brands – and we know it can seem like there’s an insurmountable wall of questions and misinformation when you’re starting to think about taking your brand global. Read on to discover how we’ve busted 5 of the most common myths around expanding an e-commerce business overseas.
1. Myth: My US Bestseller Will Also be a Bestseller in the UK and Europe
Busted: Yes – sometimes this is true – but it is not guaranteed. To be successful in an international market you will need to make sure your product and listings are right for each territory individually.
It’s crucial that you do your homework and take a look at the numbers and trends in the markets you’re hoping to expand into. You might be surprised to find that your US bestseller just doesn’t work in another market. Conversely, one of your less successful products might be just the thing to fill a local niche!
Even if the numbers add up and the potential market size is encouraging, it’s also a smart idea to ask yourself, ‘does it make sense to branch out into this particular territory?’ Conduct some groundwork – analyze the local market and your potential competitors and understand where your products would sit.
2. Myth: I Can Just Transfer My Amazon US Listing to Amazon UK – it’s All English, Right?
Busted: Well…no. Amazon now requires you to ensure your products and listings are in the local language of each individual marketplace you’re selling in – and even in English-speaking countries, you need to localize your listing.
A seller in the US uses very different terminology for items to those used in British English. For example, American customers would search for ‘dish-soap’, while shoppers from the UK would look for ‘washing-up liquid’. Being accurate in what categories your listings fall under means your customers can find what they are looking for – and crucially, land on your listing.
When you’re transferring listings to non-English speaking markets, remember that not all translations are created equal. A translation program or automatic translation is going to always be inferior to a native-speaking human translation. Literal translations may be linguistically correct, but having a truly localized translation can make all the difference. Investing the time to include all the nuances of a language to ensure your listing is as accurate and appealing as possible is invaluable.
3. Myth: I Can Just Start Shipping My Products Straight Away
Busted: Not necessarily. Make sure you are actually allowed to sell your product! Whether you’re a big omnichannel enterprise or a small to medium-sized seller, you need to be aware of the regulations that cater to your specific product category, otherwise you run the risk of Amazon suspension or delisting.
It’s vital that you research local regulations – it’s not as easy as just sticking an international shipping label on your US products. This is especially crucial if you’re launching cosmetic products or consumables. You will need to create market-specific packaging, with information that meets all regulatory specifications, and possibly even a whole new formula or new parts to meet local regulations.
At BRANDED we know it’s vital to do proper research market by market. This ensures that our brands don’t get caught up in unexpected sanctions and preempts material risk of costly rebranding or re-manufacturing. Given the varied global regulatory landscape, there is never going to be a ‘one size fits all’ approach, no matter what type of product you are selling.
Find out more about staying compliant on Amazon in our blog here.
4. Myth: Shipping and Fulfillment Internationally is Just Too Complicated
Busted: There are actually many cost-effective ways to ship abroad, and many that will ship straight from manufacturer to Amazon. If you are planning to fulfill orders yourself, make sure you’ve allowed provision for storage and dispatch as well as a method for processing returns.
If you want your new international business to be FBA based, you will still need to figure out how you will get your products out to Amazon for shipping. Sending out orders straight from your supplier to Amazon is a great cost-saving exercise, but bear in mind you are eliminating any quality-control from your brand. If you are a larger business, warehousing is a great option which allows you flexibility and more control over your products.
Alternatively, third-party logistics is a popular option for Amazon brands selling in multiple locations. Find the right shipping partner and they will handle operations, returns and shipping your products abroad in a flexible and cost-effective manner.
BTW: Don’t forget to allow some time to research any local taxes and fees you may be liable for when selling your products in those territories. Depending on the area you’re expanding into, there are various different tax authorities to register with.
5. Myth: Advertising my Products Internationally Will be Very Expensive
Busted: Not necessarily! Whether it’s through geo-specific ads or promoting your brand on social media, there are many cost-effective ways to advertise your Amazon business outside of your native country.
Internally, make use of all the different campaign tactics offered by Amazon – Sponsored Product, Sponsored Brands, and Sponsored Display – to optimize your promotions and listings. These campaigns will need acceleration and adaptation to ensure they are working hard for you, so make sure you choose your keywords carefully and continually check your results to see which ads are working for you in each location. Don’t forget to make sure your ads are properly translated and make sense for your target audience!
Think about leveraging an international community to engage with your brand locally, through reviews or social media, to boost traffic to your listings and increase your rankings organically. Social media is a powerful tool when it comes to brand building, and this is true internationally as well as in your native market.
Are you convinced?
Amazon has invested heavily in the EU market since 2010, and experienced a 45% growth in sales over the pandemic period – and no sign of slowing down. With over 980 million customers visiting the Amazon EU marketplaces in 2021, and a reported 2700 products sold per minute in Europe in 2020, this is an e-commerce sphere that you ignore at your peril.
To really succeed at taking your Amazon store to international buyers, it’s vital to do your research and know your new markets inside out. Select the right products, invest in your listings and content and make use of Amazon resources and tools to help you get up to date on any compliance and tax regulations.
BRANDED prioritizes international expansion as part of a comprehensive business plan for growth for the brands in our community. Read more about our international expansion plans on our brand stories page and get in touch if you’re interested in learning more about how our operations team makes the magic happen.