Online retailers nowadays are blessed with a wide range of domestic and international marketplaces. Out of those the biggest e-commerce platform is Amazon with over 310 million active customers. With its unified interface as well as services such as Amazon Global Selling and the Fulfillment By Amazon program, Amazon makes it easy to sell internationally. While leveraging that reach and boosting your sales sound enticing, truly realising your full potential in these marketplaces calls for some extra effort. Here we have a few tips on conquering Amazon in countries that are relatively simple to expand to for most UK sellers.
Amazon USA – Know your tax
With great opportunity comes great competition. As the biggest Amazon marketplace, Amazon.com is more crowded and competitive than its European counterparts. Sellers outside of the US should be aware of the sales tax when fulfilling with FBA, as well as keeping an eye on the changing trade climate and tariffs. Such aspects play an essential role in your US expansion and effect your margin greatly. Do your due diligence and keep yourself informed.
Another thing to keep in mind is to always remember to localize your listings. It’s more about changing your ‘s’ to ‘z’. Not tapping into the local culture and adapting the terminologies used by your American buyers can result in less storefront traffic and loss in sales. What works in the UK in terms of marketing and promotions doesn’t always work in the US. A UK buyer is less likely to respond to an emotive campaign whereas a US buyer is more likely to do so for being a nation that celebrates feeling and emotions (1).
Amazon Germany – Master your returns
The good old invoice is still the commonly used online payment method in Germany, as the German buyers enjoy the advantage of paying after the products are received. It’s also worth mentioning that German language contains honorific forms of “you” and should always be used when communicating with your buyers. According to a recent survey commissioned by digital association Bitkom among over 1,000 online shoppers in Germany, 12% of products ordered online won’t stay with the customer; 51% of online shoppers occasionally order products online with the intention of sending them back, because they just want to try different size of clothes (2).
This likely means a higher returns rate than in other locales for online sellers and should be kept in mind when selling in Germany. German buyers are also used to free shipping and free returns, so do factor those in when setting up your prices.
The good old invoice is still the commonly used online payment method in Germany, as the German buyers enjoy the advantage of paying after the products are received. It’s also worth mentioning that German language contains honorific forms of “you” and should always be used when communicating with your buyers.
Amazon France – Diversify your channels
Diversifying is key when While Amazon remains the strongest marketplace in France, local e-commerce platforms such as Cdiscount, FNAC and La Redoute are also popular and widely used by French buyers. French marketplaces tend to cater to specific categories and clientele so invest a bit of time in research, or ask those who know to learn which ones are the best venues for your products.
Amazon Italy – Track your items
Nothing’s more frustrating than missing items! With forum topics such as “Italy, why is your postal system such and joke” and “Delivery issues when selling on Amazon Italy”, Italian buyers are very keen on tracking their orders due to an increased chance of shipping issues. Consider providing tracking numbers for all your items the first step in conquering Amazon.it.
Watch out for size conversions If you sell fashion items. Most sellers are not aware that Italy has its own size charts and the number can appear two sizes bigger compared to general European sizes. Not getting your size right can lead to unhappy customers and a large number of returns.
Amazon Spain – Expect more A to Z claims
Expect a higher rate of A to Z claims than in other countries, and often for unexpected reasons. Spanish buyers never hesitate to take advantage of the A-Z Guarantee offered by Amazon which grants a full refund when the buyers find the ordered products unsatisfactory. Spanish (and sometimes Italian) buyers are also more likely to leave negative feedback since it’s considered “offering constructive criticism” in southern European culture. This means you’d need a strong customer service team monitoring your account performance while solving issues and answering questions. Do keep in mind that while most of the younger generation speaks English, your customer service team should have native Spanish speakers to solve the issues and avoid further misunderstandings in a timely manner.
Amazon Japan – Prioritize customer service
お客様は神様 translated means “Customers are gods”! Remember this and you’re surely on the right track in conquering Amazon.jp. This shows the general belief that customers are always right and should be treated with respect and the highest degree of courtesy. Japanese buyers have a higher expectation for customer service comparing to most of the world. Even the slightest delay in responding to a question asked can be perceived as serious negligence and indifference on the seller’s side. Attend to every customer personally and do not use templated answers. Have (or outsource to) a team of native Japanese customer service representatives in place to ensure non-native speakers don’t misinterpret cultural and language subtleties.
Pay extra attention to the presentation of your items. Packaging, how the items were wrapped and in what kind of parcel the items come in all have great impact on how the Japanese buyers perceive you as a seller.
Amazon Australia – Localize your listings
One of Amazon’s most recent expansion countries was Australia. Take your time and localize your listings properly. Your Aussie buyers might use different terminologies when looking for items. A pair of thongs for example refers to those sandals you wear at beaches, also known as flip-flops by the Brits.
Amazon India – Know the terminology
Again, localize your listings! As English is one of the many official languages in India, listing your products in English is completely acceptable. Just bear in mind that your buyers may use different keywords when trying to find the items they want to buy.
There’s no ‘one size fits all’ when selling on Amazon in different countries. Taking advantage of the outreach Amazon provides will grant you access to buyers worldwide, but tailoring your listings and selling strategies to different Amazon marketplaces will help you truly thrive as a brand and increase your sales along the way.
Jia Li is the e-Commerce Marketing Specialist at intercultural Elements. She enjoys helping online retailers expand internationally and home-made blueberry cheese cakes.
- Chahal, Mindi (2014, Jan 22) How UK and US consumers’ spending habits differ https://www.marketingweek.com/2014/01/22/how-uk-and-us-consumers-spending-habits-differ/
- Ecommerce News (2019, Jan 08) 12% of online purchases in Germany get returned https://ecommercenews.eu/12-of-online-purchases-in-germany-get-returned/