The Challenges of Selling Internationally on Amazon
Selling to an international audience can be a great way to reach new customers as well as add incremental revenue to your business. According to Seller's Choice, over 20% of the global population are e-commerce shoppers and the emerging markets boast rapid growth in their market share. However, global expansion is not without its pitfalls. Below we list out the most common issues:
Fulfillment and Shipping
Getting products to your customers may be more complicated when shipping internationally. If you choose to ship directly to the customer: you will have to choose your own international carrier, be responsible for all customs duties and taxes, and be responsible to meet the shipping expectations of all orders you receive.
You can also fulfill your international orders by using Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) in the country where you are listing your products, but this will require you to import your products to another country for storage in one of Amazon’s fulfillment centers. If you are just entering a market or selling infrequently to customers in that marketplace, the FBA option may not be your best bet.
Like your home country, every other country has legal and industry requirements concerning sales of products to customers. These laws include intellectual property rights, product safety, environmental, taxes and customs. Make sure you do your research and understand your responsibilities. It may also be beneficial to consult experts with knowledge of the local tax and regulatory landscape.
Before you sell to international customers, remember that products will likely have to be localized. You should consider different packaging, foreign language instructions, voltages, and sizing, among others.
For example, electronics that use two-prong electrical chargers may not be appropriate for European countries but could be appropriate for Japan. Similarly, feather beds that successfully sell in the U.K. would probably not sell well in the United States because the standard mattress sizes are different.
Remember that selling internationally often results in additional costs, including shipping, return, currency conversion, taxes, and duties. When you evaluate your selling price, make sure you consider these fees when calculating your profit margin. Also remember to review the price points of local sellers in the market you are entering. You may be hurt competitively if your product’s price exceeds similar products offered by other sellers.
When you are selling internationally, you will have to write copy and instructions in a foreign language. Not only that, but you may have to respond to customer inquiries or complaints in a different language. Amazon recommends hiring either in-house representatives or third party providers who speak the local language to provide customer support to your international customers.
You may be tempted to use automated computer translators to respond to email inquiries from international customers. However, Amazon notes that this approach may lead to less-than-optimal translations, which in turn could lead to a poor customer experience, ultimately affecting your seller performance ratings.
For more information on selling internationally, check out Amazon’s Guidance to Selling Globally.