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Latest Issue: Nov/Dec 17

Struggles of an International Marketplace Seller

Marketplaces offer a huge amount of opportunity to mid-market ecommerce sellers who are looking to expand internationally. But in order to reach overseas consumers successfully, marketplace sellers need to consider a whole range of factors about the country and the customers.

Listing on international marketplaces

Creating listings across international marketplaces, as opposed to simply making a domestic listing available for international shipping, can generate an eight-fold increase in revenue. This is because people often carry out only local searches; users in France are more likely to search on amazon.fr than amazon.co.uk, for example.

Amazon’s Build International Listings tool makes it fast and easy to target overseas markets. Rather than requiring sellers to create multiple listings, they can simply click from a drop down option and select the different regions they want to target. Amazon will then create separate listings in the correct language and currency. In this way they can remove the need to create multiple listings manually, and avoid additional costs such as translation fees. 

Look beyond Amazon and eBay

Other European marketplaces are growing in popularity. For example, in the Netherlands, domestic sites Bol.com and Wehkamp.nl are more popular among Dutch consumers than Amazon and eBay. If you plan on expanding internationally, it is worth spending time exploring these other sites to see if and how your products would fit.

Don’t let language be a barrier

While mistranslations can be hilarious, they are not great for your business. Using the wrong words will impact the professionalism of your own business and may deter customers from transacting with you. Online translation services can be quick and easy, but they ignore the nuance of language. So when working with a translation agency, double check that mistakes are not made; if your budget will stretch far enough, try translating copy back into English to see what you end up with!

Product descriptions and images sell

With so much competition on marketplaces, getting the product descriptions and images right is essential. A search for “lawnmowers” in eBay.co.uk brings up over 400,000 results so make sure your entries stand out! The visuals will be the first draw for the customer. Offer multiple images and make sure they are of the highest quality. For electrical products especially it is essential to offer detailed and honest product descriptions.

Currency exchange

The exchange rates offered by many marketplaces are based on inter-bank rates and are subject to change at short-notice. They are rarely competitive and are unlikely to be in your favour! It’s therefore worth considering third party organisations such as World First who will guarantee a fixed rate over a period of time, so that you don’t lose out when currency is exchanged.

World First also enables sellers to open overseas Amazon receiving accounts in EUR, USD, CAD & JPY. So if a large majority of a seller’s business comes from Germany, rather than constantly battling with exchange rates and transferring money abroad, the seller can simply open a “local” bank account. World First handles the opening of the account, and allows the individual to set an exchange rate for three years. This will guarantee that they’ll get a good deal when the time does come to transfer the funds into their home currency.

Know who are you delivering to

Selling on international marketplaces will inevitably see an increase in distribution costs. You therefore need to ensure that you have a cost effective delivery solution that allows you to maintain your margins for each of your international destinations. Carriers with a physical location in these countries are often best able to provide a lower cost service and are also in a position to advise you on customer preferences in the region.

Make returns simple

People shopping overseas may be nervous about the potential cost of a return. Amazon now addresses this by requiring that sellers must provide customers with a local returns address, issuing a fine if the rule is not complied with. A number of international carriers now make this possible; if you are selling internationally then make sure that yours is able to offer you a local pick-up service.

Marketplace charges and fees

Marketplaces take a percentage cut of any products sold on the platform, regardless of whether sales are made domestically or overseas. There are often different account bands, with prices varying according to volume of sales. Make sure this is taken into consideration when setting your profit and loss predictions.

Selling on international marketplaces can be highly rewarding. For sellers that want to make this part of their business model, the points above should provide a good foundation from which to start selling internationally for the first time. 

By Rick Kirk, Sales Director at B2C Europe