While the .co.uk, .fr., .es, .de, and .it of European ecommerce may seem like an alphabet soup, it’s worth investigating. With it’s diversity and breadth, expanding your online selling business to European countries may be a smart business plan. Amazon estimates there will be more than 340 million online customers in Europe by the end of 2018, roughly the same market size as the Amazon.com domain.
By tapping into the five EU marketplaces (United Kingdom, Germany, France, Italy and Spain), reaching customers in 28 countries is actually relatively simple. With Amazon’s Global Selling tools, sellers can link accounts to manage global business, sync listings, and supervise fulfillment.
What to consider?
While expanding sales to Europe may sound great, there are some things sellers must consider. Different countries have different rules and systems, obviously, which will require some administrative work on your side. How much depends on your particular inventory, logistics, and more.
Language is the first hurdle, which is why testing the waters with the United Kingdom may be the easiest expansion to begin with. For other locales, your products will need translation, updated keywords and product information, packaging, labeling, and instructions.
Localization must encompass many different aspects. Even the same language can have different meanings. English is spoken in both the States and the United Kingdom, but some words have different meanings or spellings (for example: “pants” or “pyjamas/pajamas”). Still, products will need to be fully localized, from categorization, to titles, content and keywords. Special attention should also be paid to electronics, which may feature the wrong voltage or configurations for European customers.
Currency and tax
Like language, currency and tax are also major considerations when selling in different countries. Pound sterling is the unit of money in the United Kingdom, while Euros are used elsewhere in Europe. You also will need to consider foreign exchange costs.
Selling goods in Europe is likely to require Value Added Tax (VAT) registration. Amazon offers businesses tools to try to make this process as easy as possible, helping you complete registration, filing, submitting and invoicing in Seller Central for approximately €400 per year. Learn more about VAT services on Amazon. Consulting a tax advisor is also recommended. Many of our clients work with SimplyVAT, who work with a number of sellers across the EU.
There are a number of considerations depending on where you are selling and what country is importing goods. Chiefly, intellectual property rights laws, EU consumer protections, product compliance, labeling, banned items, EU directives (like those surrounding batteries), and country-specific rules can all come into play depending on your situation.
Lastly, businesses should consider their logistics regarding shipping. This includes importing and customs issues, storage, order handling and the return process.
Because there is a great deal of information on each of these issues, it’s important to investigate in Seller Central and other resources before jumping into expansion. Check out Amazon’s helpful Comprehensive Guide for Global Selling, which can help you zero in on your particular product or issues and come up with a business plan for your unique situation.
Businesses are allowed to ship internationally themselves. While this can seem like a low-cost option, it might be complicated by long shipping times, delays with customs, VAT charges, lack of Prime eligibility, and a worse overall customer experience.
To remedy this, sellers can participate in Fulfilment by Amazon (FBA). Using FBA will require importing your products to another country for storage in an Amazon fulfillment center to sell them to customers in that marketplace. This can also encompass the Pan-European FBA, the European Fulfilment Network, or Multi Country Inventory. To learn more about all FBA options, visit Amazon’s FBA page on Amazon Services Europe.
How to get started
After researching and reviewing your options, select a country to be your home marketplace, from which to base your storage and operations. Choose an Amazon seller program, review local laws and legislation that will affect your products, and consult on local tax with a qualified advisor or accountant. Review international shipping companies and options that will ensure your products get where they need to go in a timely manner. From here, you can open your EU selling account and focus on adding your listings that have been translated and localized. Send your inventory to Europe and proceed to manage your EU accounts all in Seller Central.
For more individualized help, contact eCommerce Nurse to maximize your sales in Europe.