3 Ways to Simplify International Expansion with Global Marketplaces

Feb 19, 2013 4:09 PM  By

By By Gina DeFrank and Scot Wingo

The world is flattening and borders are blurring, creating the perfect opportunity for e-commerce retailers to sell on new channels and reach new sources of demand. According to eMarketer’s global estimates, e-commerce sales will grow more than 18% worldwide this year. Retailers, even those with limited resources and personnel, can and should take advantage of this opportunity to successfully expand their sales into global markets.

International e-commerce presents many challenges, and selling across borders requires careful consideration of cultural differences, government regulations and operational infrastructure. It is important for retailers to create an optimal shopping experience for each consumer, and that means ensuring quick and painless delivery of purchased goods.

EBay and Amazon provide programs and tools to ease retailers’ transition into other countries, by assisting with order fulfillment and local regulation compliance. EBay’s latest Global Shipping Program tackles the challenge of customs payments and Amazon supports third-party sellers in the US, Canada, the UK, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, China and Japan.

Often a phased approach is the best way to get started with international expansion—beginning with exporting orders to international customers or selling on an additional marketplace to get products in front of new customers around the world. This article outlines the various marketplaces and fulfillment tools that are available to help retailers tackle this growing opportunity.

Consider eBay’s Global Shipping Program
EBay recently introduced a new shipping program to make it easier for US-based retailers to ship goods to international buyers and efficiently manage customs charges. The Global Shipping Program (GSP) from eBay streamlines international selling by automatically including all shipping and customs charges in the buyer’s purchase price and reducing the retailer’s effort to a simple domestic US shipment at no additional charge.

GSP utilizes experienced international shipping operators to handle the international leg of the shipment. The retailer delivers the package to a domestic US address where GSP takes over. Once the seller has shipped their package to the domestic address, everything else is fully automated.

A reference number that uniquely identifies the package is included in the shipping address that directs the package along to its final international destination. GSP also includes all customs forms, declarations and fees, meaning that packages are delivered more quickly and not held for customs payment.

Additionally, the retailer’s shipping-related Detailed Seller Ratings are protected, and the retailer will not be responsible for loss or damage during international transit. Using GSP allows retailers to reach millions of additional buyers in the 18 international countries eBay currently supports and those coming in the future.

Consider selling on Amazon Canada
Launching on Amazon.ca is an easy next step for US retailers to tackle marketplace expansion. Amazon recently launched the Amazon Prime program in Canada and is in the process of adding support for additional selling categories. Today on Amazon.ca retailers can list products in the Consumer Electronics, Home & Garden, Sports, Tools and Watches categories. Retailers can self-fulfill orders or use Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA), a program where Amazon picks, packs and ships retailers’ orders, for some or all products.

When it comes to getting paid, Amazon recently launched the Amazon Currency Converter for Sellers in Canada. With this optional service, Amazon will convert retailers’ sales proceeds to US dollars and transfer funds to the US bank account designated.

Consider leveraging Amazon marketplaces
Amazon marketplaces in the UK and Europe are large and growing! US retailers can sell on Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.de, Amazon.fr and Amazon.it.

Amazon recently reported some impressive stats about these marketplaces, such as:
· Amazon’s European marketplaces had over 164 million active customers last year.
· 30% of total Amazon units are sold by third-party sellers.
· Amazon.co.uk receives about 20 million unique visitors monthly, Amazon.de has 24 million and Amazon.fr has 13 million.

Retailers can dip their toe in international waters by receiving orders from buyers outside of the US. The next logical step is to start listing inventory on the Amazon UK marketplace since listings are in English, and then eventually expand to other European marketplaces in Germany, France and Italy.

In order to do this successfully, a program called Amazon FBA Export assists US sellers with fulfillment.
When retailers enroll in Amazon FBA Export, all of their qualifying product listings are eligible for international orders on Amazon.com at no extra charge. At the moment, this program is mostly for media products, but qualified non-media products can also apply.

US retailers that choose to create an account to list products on Amazon.co.uk can also use FBA Export by sending products to an UK FBA location. The FBA Export program allows buyers located in other EU countries to purchase from US sellers. For example, a consumer in France is able to buy a US retailer’s product listed on Amazon.co.uk and have it fulfilled through FBA from the UK. Today, there are no extra fees for using this program and the European FBA Export program supports a much wider list of products.

Gina DeFrank is a Marketplaces Business Analyst with ChannelAdvisor and Scot Wingo is CEO of ChannelAdvisor.