Below is an ebook sent to my email from the good people at SellerEngine
. It's full of all kinds of info on selling globally with Amazon. It has some promotional stuff in it as well, (like SellerEngines "Sellery" service) but I think it's still worth sharing.
The ebook (this post) is a joint effort from Meridian Global Services
, World First
, and Seller Engine.
So if you like what they say reach out to them.
This ebook is the joint work of SellerEngine Software, World First and Meridian Global Services.
Together, we’re experts in international Amazon sales, currency exchanges, VAT and sales tax.
We’re going to teach you what you need to know to learn how to make global Amazon sales an integral part
of your business. This is a technical ebook with loads of info you won’t find anywhere
else. It might be a heavy read, so go slowly and don’t be afraid to ask questions.
Let’s get started.
Where’s Your Business Headed?
Are you selling on Amazon.com already? Have you grown your business by branching out into
new product categories and developing wholesale connections to build a healthy and renewable
set of inventory items? Are you looking for ideas on how to keep growing your business?
Have you thought about selling on one of Amazon’s international marketplaces like
Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.de (Germany), or Amazon.fr (France)? Selling your products
internationally is the next step for the experienced Amazon seller looking to take the next step.
Why Sell Internationally?
Before we get too far ahead of ourselves, we’ll say this up front:
Selling internationally is hard work.
You’ll have to navigate the bureaucracy of a foreign country when it comes to filing taxes and
registering for VAT (don’t worry, we’ll cover VAT issues in detail throughout this ebook). You’ll
have to provide top-notch service to customers that might be halfway around the world and
you’ll need to be on top of your Amazon selling game.Still with us?
Good. Because here’s another truth:
Selling internationally is worth the hard work.
You’ll have access to millions of new customers and you’ll face reduced competition compared
Let’s take a look at some data:
International sales (those outside of Amazon.com) make up nearly 40% of Amazon’s total sales.
And that percentage is growing every year.
Now let’s look at the traffic for Amazon’s international marketplaces:
Amazon.com (US) is the far and away leader. But Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.de, Amazon.es and
Amazon.co.jp all receive more than 4 million visitors per day. That’s a lot of traffic!
And who’s selling? Here’s our best estimate of the active sellers on each marketplace. By
active, we mean sellers who list more than the occasional item (we don’t count people who sell
a book once in awhile):
You can see that on European marketplaces, you’re going to be competing with 50% fewer
sellers than on Amazon.com. And on some marketplaces, like those in Italy and Spain, you’re
likely to have very little competition at all.
Creating your Amazon account
Great, you’ve decided to take your business international! The first question is where?
If you’re looking to expand into Europe there are a few things you’ll need to do to get the ball
- Register online with Amazon.de/fr/es/it/co.uk
- List an internationally accepted credit card (MasterCard, Visa, Amex etc.)
- List a contact telephone number
- Register for VAT –which is covered later in this book
- Get in touch with World First to arrange the appropriate bank account
The good news is, Amazon has unified its marketplaces, allowing you to create and manage
product offers in one or all of the marketplaces listed above. You can control what you sell and
where, and you manage all your European business from a single seller account.
If you’re looking to expand a little closer to home into Canada, you’ll find you’re automatically
enabled to sell on Amazon.ca by virtue of being listed on Amazon.com. You can switch
between marketplaces by using the marketplace switcher in Seller Central. This allows you to
list products and manage orders in each marketplace. You’ll still need to get in touch with World
First to arrange the appropriate bank account here too.
Evaluating your current inventory for profitability on a new Amazon marketplace
So you’ve got yourself set up on an international platform next, to assess what you’re going to
Things to consider include:
- Are these items readily available in a particular marketplace already?
- Are they competitively priced?
- How will you get the product to the purchaser – Fulfillment by Amazon or merchant
- Certain products require approval by Amazon – do yours fall into this category? Check
Amazon’s selling policy page for the local market.
Finally, remember cross-cultural dynamics. It is important to have a grasp of the often complex
and diverse cultural distinctions that may exist between your native marketplace and your new
marketplace. This will empower you to identify cross-border differences that may jeopardize
your business abroad.
Selling & Repricing Made Simple
When it comes to selling on any Amazon marketplace, repricing software that you can trust is
key. This is doubly true when it comes to selling globally. You’ll need software that works with
every Amazon marketplace that you’re selling on. You’ll need to be able to reprice all of your
items exactly how you want, according to your competition and the marketplaces you’re selling
That’s why we at SellerEngine created Sellery.
Sellery isn’t like other repricing software. Sellery focuses on a subset of automated repricing
that we like to call Intelligent Repricing.
Automated repricing can be simple. It doesn’t usually require a lot of input from you and might
not require a lot of thought either.
But the possibilities and the results of simple automatic repricing can be limited, and sometimes
devastating, if you make a mistake and don’t correct it.
For some sellers, this is enough.
But for Amazon sellers who really want to succeed, Intelligent Repricing is the key.
Keys to Intelligent Repricing
Unlike simple automated repricing, which relies only on software, you’re the most important part
of Intelligent Repricing.
You’ll start by using your knowledge of your inventory’s past performance, like seasonal sales
Then you’ll consider your expectations for future performance, as well as your existing pricing
strategies to develop an intelligent repricing strategy with the software you choose.
Without the right software, Intelligent Repricing just doesn’t work.
Your software needs to be able to:
- Segment your inventory so that you’re repricing the right items at the right time.
- Accurately track your item costs so that you never sell an item at a loss.
- Flexibly adjust prices (both up and down) quickly and accurately.
That’s why we created Sellery. Sellery has:
- Smart Lists that allow you to create lists of items that update as your inventory
- A Dynamic Minimum Price calculated using your cost of goods sold, estimated
- shipping costs and Amazon fees. Unless you say otherwise, this will act as your
- floor price, ending pricing wars before they start.
- Nearly infinite combinations of Pricing Rules that you can apply to any combination
- of Smart Lists.
- Real Time Repricing that keeps you ahead of the competition, adjusting your prices
- in minutes rather than hours.
Sellery has the power to apply any strategy you can imagine. But it’s up to you to find the
strategies that work best for your inventory.
Think of yourself like a scientist. Use the power of software to apply the repricing strategies you
create and then quickly make adjustments based on the results.
- You wouldn’t sell Christmas decorations for the same price in December as you
- would during March, would you?
- There’s probably room to increase the price of an item that showed up on Oprah’s
- Favorite Things List, right?
- It could be profitable to reduce prices on inventory that’s about to be hit with a longterm
- FBA storage fees, don’t you think?
- Do you price items with no competing offers the same as items with 10 other
Once you’ve got your account created, your inventory loaded and your repricing software set
up, you need to start thinking about some of the more intricate aspects of selling globally,
including VAT, currency fluctuations, tax obligations and customer service.
For businesses that sell online internationally or buy wholesale goods from abroad, the way you
make payments and transfer money from one currency to another could make a real difference
to their bottom line.
Fluctuations in the currency markets can dramatically affect the cost of goods, the pricing of
products and how competitive a business can be on international marketplaces. It’s possible for
exchange rates to move by as much as 10% in a few weeks or even days, and it’s these
currency movements that could have a serious impact on a business.
For your business, there are plenty of products on offer that can help you manage your currency
and the associated risks/rewards with selling internationally.
When paying suppliers for your online goods, there are a number of things that will determine
what exchange rate you’ll get:
- Which currency you need to buy
- The amount you need to buy
- The date of the payment
- The cost of the currency transaction
If you agree to purchase your goods in a foreign currency, the cost to
you in dollars could go up or down
depending on currency fluctuations. The
exchange rates are always changing, and
dramatic fluctuations could add a
significant amount to the total cost of the
Depending on how frequently you have to buy and the ability to budget, there are a number of
ways in which a currency exchange company is able to help.
You can fix an exchange rate in advance – sometimes for up to three years
in advance. This could be a good idea if you know what currency you are
buying and your annual spend.
You should also be aware how much you are being charged to purchase
your currency. Banks, marketplaces, payment providers and brokerages all apply a “spread” –
how competitive that spread is can vary; international payment specialists will typically offer
better rates than banks and marketplaces.
Pricing your products in different currencies
When looking at selling products internationally, the exchange rate can affect your options for
pricing. When rates move, you can end up getting more or less or a profit from the currency
you’re selling in. This gives you a number of options to consider:
Scenario 1 – Dollar weakens against the currency you’re selling in
Keep your prices the same to improve your profit margins
Lower your prices and become more price-competitive
Scenario 2 – Dollar strengthens against the currency you’re selling in
Increase your prices and maintain profit margins
Keep your prices the same, taking the hit on reduced profit margins
Paying VAT internationally
As an international marketplace seller, a lot of your sales will be to shoppers in a variety of
countries. That’s why it’s so important to consider international VAT and how that cost could
impact the currency rates.
Thresholds vary depending on the country. Also, depending on your business and what goods
you sell, there could be a variety of regulations and registrations that you need to stick to. For
example, the revenue threshold that incurs VAT in France is €100,000 – which can vary in USD
depending on the exchange rate at the time the payment is being made. You should always
consider when you will be paying your tax and what you expect to pay in dollars.
What is VAT?
‘VAT’ stands for ‘Value Added Tax’
It is a form of indirect tax that is imposed on products or services at different stages of
manufacturing and each supply chain. The tax is paid to the government directly by the
producer, and the cost is passed on to the consumer. VAT avoids the cascade effect of sales
tax by taxing only the value-added at each stage of production. The value added to any product
may be calculated as the sales price minus the cost of supply.
Goods imported into a State from another jurisdiction are also subject to VAT – this is charged
by Customs at the point where the goods enter the State. Most European and many nonEuropean
countries (China, India) have adopted this system of taxation. More than 150
countries have a VAT system; the US is the only OECD country without a VAT system.
The EU has a strong interest in eCommerce. Policy makers are creating an environment for
cross border trade to flourish and many barriers are being removed. Although it is true to say
that the opportunity to sell online to consumers in other EU countries has never been better,
each EU country has its own VAT regime and sellers should be conscious of the different VAT
rules that affect them in different countries.
The challenge for sellers is keeping on top of changing VAT rates, distance selling thresholds
and country specific information. Nonetheless, it is important for sellers be aware of the risks
faced from not being compliant with EU VAT legislation and the need to take steps to minimize
their VAT exposure.
What are the main difficulties that retailers face when selling internationally?
One of the main difficulties that retailers face when selling internationally is that they do not
realize they may need to pay tax in new regions. This is mostly a legal obligation. As retailers
have found themselves selling abroad without forward planning, VAT is often overlooked. Their
over-riding priorities are to sell the product, get paid, ship it and deal with any returns as quickly
as possible. VAT is frequently not a priority, when in fact it should be considered carefully from
Sellers frequently do not realize that when they ship internationally, sometimes that means they
need to charge VAT at the local rate. If anyone in the company does think to ask the question
“What VAT should be charged on that invoice?” then at least the issue is being looked at.
However, sellers are often so busy responding to the customer that they don’t get to think of the
question, never mind answer it. However it is important to be aware of the tax rules. This is
especially true when selling to European consumers. Numerous online sellers have no
understanding of the individual VAT requirements of other regions; for example, each country in
the European Union (EU) has a different distance-selling threshold.
By way of example, let’s imagine you are selling small amounts of products to international
customers and shipping directly from the US. In this scenario, there is often an unknown extra
charge payable by the consumer when they take receipt of the goods. This means that the
customer will have to pay the courier company before delivery is completed. Naturally this can
lead the customer becoming disappointed as the price paid and the perceived saving is reduced
by this extra charge. Nevertheless, to you as a seller in this scenario there is no tax liability.
If you recognize that your sales in a particular country or region are increasing and this sways
you to ship stock in bulk yourself or via a fulfillment partner, you will need to be aware of your
VAT obligations. In all likelihood you will be charged import VAT on the goods as they enter the
country. This can be recovered if handled correctly and Meridian Global Services can facilitate
this. In addition, if you are now selling that stock to consumers locally (or in the case of the EU,
to consumers in other EU member states) you will need to charge VAT at the correct rate on
these sales. You will also need to remit this VAT to each of the correct tax authorities in each of
the relevant countries.
Assessing the Situation
Companies that sell products to individuals in other countries via the Internet don’t need to be
experts on the topic of VAT. If they keep an eye on some high level items then they will make
life easier for themselves in the long run.
First thing is to track and know the value of sales in to other countries. It may seem obvious but
if you’re selling to customers in another country through a variety of different channels and
marketplaces, you need to total these up. Then you need to compare the sales totals against
distance selling thresholds (if selling in the EU).
Second piece of advice is to know what countries your product is being delivered from and to.
Finally, know if and when your product has moved from one country to another before it is sold.
This means knowing which warehouse or fulfillment center your product is actually in. This is
particularly relevant when it comes to FBA. Using Amazon’s FBA programmed may trigger an
obligation to register for VAT in different countries.
The final thing is if you determine either yourself or with the help of an expert that you need to
VAT register in another country, go ahead and get it done. It’s not a choice and the sooner it’s
done the better. You are doing yourself a favor by minimizing any of the risks that exist.
Our advice for retailers is to take time to consider your tax obligations. Don’t rush in to a new
logistics arrangement without first knowing what the VAT implications of such a move will be. If
you are unsure about any details, it is best to get the right kind of advice. Advice from third
parties with no tax expertise and the myriad of unprofessional advice on the internet can lead to
problems later on. It is worth talking to an expert who can quickly and easily help you fully
understand the VAT requirements you face.
In summary, if you are selling cross border already:
- Conduct an audit of the regions you sell to and the amount of sales per year you make
- to that country
- Investigate the VAT threshold of the country
- Identify whether you are obligated to pay tax or register for VAT
Tax authorities frequently conduct VAT audits, which can be backdated. Understanding past
sales and your requirements can save money in the long-term.
International expansion provides huge opportunities. Don’t let tax limit your scope for expansion.
Meridian Global Services will help you proceed with confidence that you are fully compliant.
Consider Your Logistics
Key to determining what tax obligations you may have is the location of your inventory. Be
aware of where your inventory is shipped from as well as the location of where it’s shipped to is.
Selling inventory located in the EU to consumers based in the EU will be subject to the distanceselling
thresholds applicable to each of the consumer’s markets.
Remember that if you locate stock in a country to save on long run transport costs and/or for
speed to the customer, you will most likely have a tax obligation in that country. Trying to
identify which jurisdiction that obligation sits in can sometimes be difficult. Approach each region
differently and be cautious that a one-size-fits-all approach to tax will not work.
Common mistakes made by retailers
Unaware of tax obligations in other countries?
Many sellers are unaware of the fact that they may have tax obligations in other countries. This
is the most common mistake that retailers make. International expansion has helped to
accelerate eCommerce to such an extent that tax can be an after-thought for some international
retailers. Some retailers believe that because they do not have offices in a jurisdiction that they
are exempt from VAT. This cannot be assumed.
Furthermore retailers that are not located in a jurisdiction sometimes believe they will not be
noticed or pursued by the tax authorities. Worldwide tax authorities are very smart about
monitoring cross-border trade. Almost all authorities are looking at sellers’ web shops and
marketplace stores. They are placing mystery orders and seeing how VAT is actually treated at
the point of checkout. So if they suspect that the seller is selling quite a lot into their country and
not charging the correct VAT rate then they get suspicious.
If a seller is found to be behind on their tax payments then they are forced to
repay all of the tax owed, plus interest and fines of up to 200 per cent of the
total VAT liabilities.
VAT can be backdated up to ten years along with interest on the unpaid
VAT, penalties and interest on the unpaid penalties. So this can all add up
But we are not just talking about financial penalties. The reality is that the authorities have the
power to seize products not only at a first port of arrival into the European Union but also after
they have been imported and while they are in transit.
Finally, retailers are often looking at different high-level sources of information when it comes to
their VAT affairs. Our advice is not to depend solely on what may seem like a reliable source
(e.g., domestic government helpdesks, etc.). Your tax compliance obligations in another
jurisdiction must be qualified and based upon your own specific circumstances, not theoretical
Customer Service Tips
When you’re selling internationally (especially in a country in a different time zone, or in a
country where you don’t speak the language), one of the biggest challenges you face is keeping
your customers satisfied.And remember that customer satisfaction is priority #1 for both Amazon and Amazon
sellers. That’s why this is so important, especially as you’re getting started selling in a
new Amazon marketplace.
Here’s how we see it:
At the most basic level, you’re relying on translation services like Google Translate and replying
to customer questions when you’re working. In some cases, this’ll work out fine (as long as the
questions you receive aren’t too complicated), because you’re still going to be able to answer
questions within the 24 hour window that Amazon requires.
But, many sellers will see improved customer satisfaction by working with a virtual assistant who
can answer questions in the local language and on the local time zone of the marketplaces
you’re selling on. Customers will receive quick and accurate responses. The downside to a
virtual assistant is finding, hiring and training the right person.
The best results, however, will be found by outsourcing your customer service or working with a
professional translation service. You’ll save the time you’d spend searching for the right virtual
assistant and will be able to guarantee that your customers will be receiving outstanding and
speedy responses to all of their questions.
World First can help you grow your online business internationally. When you’re selling on
marketplaces internationally, they’ll help you save time and money when repatriating your
profits. They make opening receiving bank accounts around the world quick and easy, and they
offer great exchange rates. Their accounts are flexible so you can choose when to bring your
money back home. Your money, when you want it.http://WorldFirst.com
Meridian Global Services
With Meridian, we can ensure you meet all your VAT and Sales Tax compliance obligations
across Europe and North America. We will assist you in determining your registration liabilities
and we will provide you with all the required compliance activities. Meridian offers a
comprehensive VAT & Sales Tax registration and return filing service combined with
consultancy and advisory services. This includes the filing of VAT/Sales Tax returns at required
intervals in the relevant jurisdictions.
We have worked with some of the world’s largest, fastest growing and most innovative
companies to help them succeed when accessing new markets. If you are unsure about your
VAT or Sales Tax situation when fulfilling orders in different countries or if you are exceeding
distance selling thresholds, we make sure you are completely compliant without being drowned
in red tape and paperwork. This allows you to proceed with confidence and sell into the markets
With over 25 years of experience, sellers trust Meridian to meet all of their VAT and US Sales
Tax compliance needs. We serve clients through our network of global offices including London,
Paris, Munich, New York and Tokyo. It is our expertise in international VAT, sales and
consumption taxes that our clients value.
If you are selling to European or North American consumers, talk to us about getting your VAT
and Sales Tax affairs in order.
For further information visit
Email: [email protected]
Tel USA: + (1) 212 554 6600
Tel UK: + 44 (0) 20 8601 4600
In 2002, SellerEngine introduced the first automated pricing and inventory management tool for
Amazon sellers. For over 10 years we have coached, supported and learned from thousands of
Amazon sellers. Watching your business grow beyond your expectations and solving frustrating
problems are what keeps us coming back for more.
Our software is smart enough to understand how you want to run your business. And it’s
powerful enough to run 24/7, on 7 global Amazon Marketplaces. But software can’t do
If you want to reduce your shipping costs, enter a new international marketplace, sell in a gated
product category or anything else, reach out to us. We want to make you feel like selling on
Amazon could be just as easy as buying on Amazon.
We are a friendly, knowledgeable and worldly group of people. All together, we represent 9
nationalities, speak 13 languages and work in 3 countries. We value relationships, respect and
making things easy.http://sellerengine.com[email protected]