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Should I Enroll in Amazon’s Global Selling Programs? Remote Fulfillment, Distance Selling, Etc...

[Updated Aug 2021]

Through Amazon Global Selling, sellers can list products and manage orders in a growing list of marketplace countries, in order to access hundreds of millions of customers around the world.

When considering expanding your Amazon offerings to other countries, there are many factors that should guide your decision. It is important to consider the following items, before opening new marketplaces. This article can help navigate the various issues encountered.

Be aware that this article is written by a US seller, based on their experience with distance selling… Sellers based in other countries may have different obligations and experiences. Additionally, Amazon and country-specific regulations are constantly changing, so ensure your information is up to date.

** To receive a list of resources this this seller has used to ship international, manage VAT, and manage inventory, enter your email address in our contact form and say, "send me the list". (this list is not public). [CONTACT FORM]

  1. Aspects to Consider

  2. Can your product be sold in every country?

  3. Understand the various global selling programs

  4. Examples of various selling programs, based on region

  5. Know your legal obligations (tax and business requirements)

  6. Determine a shipping plan

  7. Handle unfulfillable items

  8. Determine if global expansion is for you

  9. Main advantages and disadvantages

1) Aspects to Consider

a. Can your product be sold in every country?

First off, confirm that the product(s) you want to sell can be sold and shipped to specific countries. Products offered for sale on Amazon must comply with all local laws and regulations and with Amazon's policies. You should carefully review the eligibility and Restricted Products help pages before listing a product. Certain products may also require legal approval to sell in particular countries.

Those participating in Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA), should also review the FBA Product Restrictions pages (different ones for each country) which lists products that are not eligible for the FBA program.

b. Understand the various global selling programs

Below is a list of the current Amazon marketplaces available to sellers. (as of Aug 2021)

The Basics: It is important to understand the different selling opportunities in each marketplace, before enrolling in particular programs. All marketplaces allow you to participate in Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) and Fulfillment by Merchant (FBM).

  • Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) - As part of Fulfilment by Amazon (FBA), you have access to optional features and services to help you manage and grow your business. FBA fees cover the cost of storing your products in Amazon's fulfilment centres; picking, packing, and shipping orders; and providing customer service for products sold.

  • Fulfillment by Merchant (FBM) - Products are fulfilled to customers by the seller/merchant. The seller is responsible for picking, packing, and shipping orders; and providing customer service for products sold.

  • FBA Export Program - Most sellers are automatically enrolled in the FBA Export Program, which allows buyers in 100 countries/regions to buy your FBA products.

c. Examples of various selling programs. based on region

North America Unified Account

  • The North America Unified Account lets you create and manage product offers, tailor your listings, and manage pricing and inventory across the Amazon.com, Amazon.ca, and Amazon.com.mx marketplaces from a single interface.

  • You have the ability to list products via FBA and FBM in each country, as well as Remote Fulfillment with FBA. This means you can do any of the following types of selling:

  • Hold all inventory in USA and remote fulfill to Canada and/or Mexico

  • Hold inventory for some SKUs in Canada and/or Mexico, and remote fulfill some (other) SKUs from USA to those countries

  • Hold inventory for all SKUs in all countries. This would not be distance selling.

  • Remote Fulfillment with FBA - As a US seller, Remote Fulfillment with FBA lets you sell to customers in Canada and Mexico without having to send inventory to those countries. When you enroll in the program and create offers on Amazon.ca and Amazon.com.mx, Fulfillment by Amazon will use your inventory in US fulfillment centers to fulfill orders across the border directly to the customer, through Amazon Services LLC.

Benefits and Drawbacks:

  • Remote fulfillment is an easy way to reach more customers and eliminate challenging fulfillment logistics,

  • Sending bulk inventory to Mexico (not using remote fulfillment) requires an importer of record (IOR) and/or an RFC-ID. This means you need a local entity who will act as the importer and VAT collection entity - to be paid out to Mexican tax authorities. It can be difficult to find a party who will agree to this (some forwarders will), and they often charge high fees for the service.

  • Sending bulk inventory to Amazon Canadian fulfillment centers requires an NRI shipping account (Non-Resident Importer). This requires initial application and maintenance, and can carry additional fees. Duty and taxes are accrued into this account and paid by the shipper, as Amazon won’t act as this party for you. UPS and other carriers offer this account option.

  • A downside to Remote fulfillment can be the higher fees and longer shipping lead times to customers. Less customers may go with your product due to lead time.

Amazon European Account

  • Selling in Europe allows you to leverage Amazon's three international fulfillment programs: Pan-European FBA, the European Fulfillment Network, and Multi-Country Inventory. *All orders will be eligible for Amazon Prime, regardless of the marketplace.

  • You can create offers on any of Amazon’s European marketplaces using the same process that you used to create offers on your home marketplace. When you provide the same SKU for the product that you have provided in your home marketplace, your offer will be linked to the same inventory pool (across Europe).

Pan-European FBA - FBA program that utilizes a shared inventory pool, where products are stored in different countries (at Amazon’s discretion, to be closest to customers).

  • Allows you to fulfill offers in all European marketplaces from one inventory pool without incurring per-unit cross-border Fulfillment Fees for the European Fulfillment Network. Amazon will distribute your inventory across the European fulfillment network at no additional cost.

  • Becomes active for a product only after you create an active FBA offer in each of the Amazon European marketplaces from the same inventory pool.

  • Choose the country to which you wish to ship Pan-European FBA ASINs. Amazon may then move this inventory across European fulfillment centers at its discretion.

  • It is VERY IMPORTANT to understand that this creates VAT obligations in other countries, since products are being stored there. Many sellers have chosen this program only to find out the obligations are massive.

European Fulfillment Network (EFN) - FBA program that utilizes a shared inventory pool, where products are only stored in the home marketplace (cross-border fees are charged).

  • Simplest way to store inventory in one country, and ship orders across all of Amazon's European marketplaces.

  • Customers across Europe can order your products, and Amazon fulfills those orders from that single pool of inventory. For example, when a customer in Germany purchases your product on Amazon.de, the product is fulfilled by Amazon and shipped from your home inventory pool in France.

  • This program requires VAT registration in the country where inventory is sent, and possibly in other countries later on. Some countries, such as Germany, may collect VAT on the way in. This means if you oversend inventory, you may be stuck not only with dead inventory but unutilized VAT pre-payment.

  • Some sellers have sent inventory to other countries first (like Netherlands), then forward it to Germany so it imports within the EU, making the process faster and simpler.

Multi-Country Inventory (MCI) - FBA program that utilizes a shared inventory pool, where products are shipped to/stored in multiple warehouses in different countries (at your discretion), offering cheaper fulfillment fees and faster shipping.

  • With MCI, you send your most popular inventory directly to the countries where customers are buying, so the products are close to your customers. When customers order your products, Amazon can ship and deliver them faster.

  • You can either choose to fulfill your entire listings or just your best-selling items locally through MCI; there are no minimum requirements.

  • You can use the European Fulfilment Network and Multi-Country Inventory at the same time.

  • If you are out of stock in your fulfilment center that is eligible for Multi-Country Inventory, Amazon will dispatch your orders from one of its in-stock fulfilment centers. If you have listings in Marketplaces in countries where you do not have local inventory, Amazon will remotely fulfil orders from your shared inventory pool. For example, if you list in the France marketplace but only have inventory in fulfilment centers based in Spain and Germany, Amazon will dispatch from your stock in either Spain or Germany. In such cases, you would be charged the European Fulfilment Network fulfilment fee rather than the Multi-Country Inventory fulfilment fee, based on where Amazon fulfilled the order from for the customer in France.

  • Our interpretation: With EFN, Amazon distributes your inventory around the EU according to their calculations. With MCI, the seller distributes inventory around the EU according to their calculations. MCI requires VAT registration in all countries where inventory is stored.

Additional seller-fulfilled programs (FBM)

  • Seller-fulfilled from US (or other country outside of Europe) - The seller holds stock in the US and only ships internationally after receiving an order. This is a low-cost option, but customers are charged a VAT on the imported item and shipping takes a long time.

  • Seller-fulfilled from EU - The product inventory is located within Europe. There is a shorter shipping period, but there are a number of setup costs and fees to consider. Sellers will likely need to set up a European headquarters or work with a logistics company.

Asia Pacific and Middle East Accounts

As with North America and European accounts, similar programs exist for Asia Pacific and Middle East unified accounts, allowing sellers to create and manage product offers, tailor listings, and manage pricing and inventory across the grouped marketplaces from a single interface.

d. Know your legal obligations (tax and miscellaneous business requirements)

Each country has different import and tax reporting requirements. For example, if you sell goods in any European country, it’s likely you may be required to register for Value Added Tax (VAT) in each country you sell in. It is the responsibility of each Amazon selling partner to ensure they are VAT-compliant and you should seek professional advice if you are unsure of your obligations. One seller explained that they sent inventory to Amazon UAE and sold for a number of months before being advised that they would need to VAT register. A fine resulted due to selling before registration (about $6k). So be aware of your tax and legal obligations PRIOR to selling in a marketplace. Amazon may urge you to jump in without fully disclosing all of the obligations.

e. Determine a shipping plan

You are responsible for paying any destination duties, taxes, and customs clearance fees before your product can be sold to residents or stored in an Amazon fulfilment center. It is important to determine a shipping plan, then get estimates from various logistics providers, to understand the costs associated with getting inventory into fulfillment centers (or directly to customers). Depending on your home country location and your shipment country location, you may be required to use a freight forwarder and Importer of Record (IOR).

f. Will you need unfulfillable items returned to you?

Be aware that FBA unfulfillable items (and stranded inventory) will be stuck in limbo until you choose to have the items destroyed or returned to you. However, you will likely not be able to ship the items over country borders… So you will need to have a local address or 3PL provider in order to have items returned to you.

2. Determine if Global Expansion is For You

a. After considering these factors, will global expansion be profitable for you?

There is a lot to examine when considering global expansion. If you’ve done your research, have the resources, and most importantly the drive to move forward, then kudos to you! You are ready to tackle the Amazon global beast. Get ready for a fast learning curve and more logistics to navigate.

Main advantages to selling globally:

  • Access hundreds of millions of customers around the world

  • Grow and diversify your sales

  • Leverage Amazon’s global scale using Amazon’s state-of-the-art international logistics capabilities

  • Share listing information and manage your inventory consistently across multiple marketplaces

Main disadvantages to selling globally:

  • Increased logistics, more listings management, more legal obligations, more headaches…

  • Getting products into international fulfillment centers for FBA can be a pain in itself. Different countries have different requirements. Some countries will require you to use a freight forwarder and Importer of Record (IOR). This creates more hurdles for you to go through (paperwork and expenses).

  • Depending on where your inventory is sold and stored, you will likely be required to register for the consumer spending tax, or Value Added Tax (VAT). It's important to understand the requirements for each of the marketplaces where you want to sell. The Amazon Service Provider Network can connect you with resources to help you manage VAT requirements. This too creates additional hurdles for you (paperwork, VAT reporting, payments, and accounting fees).

  • Hidden/unknown fees - make sure you are aware of all associated costs and fee breakdowns, as well as the many programs you may need to enroll in to remain compliant.

  • Inventory planning and tracking can become a nightmare - unless you have the right tools!

How One Page Inventory can help

Once you’ve made the decision to sell globally, you’ll likely be inundated with the laborious task of managing inventory on multiple marketplaces. To successfully manage your growth, you’ll need a robust tool designed for this specific action.

One Page Inventory takes the pain out of inventory management. The innovative software [created by Amazon sellers for Amazon sellers] gives you an instant snapshot of what each marketplace has in stock, sales across all marketplaces, and what to replenish into each marketplace. These are a few features that streamline inventory management for Amazon sellers selling on multiple marketplaces.

Instant snapshot of what each marketplace has in stock

With One Page Inventory, all current stock levels/inventory numbers for each product in all of your synced marketplaces are displayed side-by-side, on one page. The data is easy and quick to digest. What could take you an hour or more each time you want an accurate stock update, is viewable in an instant. Not only are all inventory numbers clearly displayed, but so are your in-stock days remaining (calculated by One Page Inventory’s algorithm + specific quantities entered by the user during setup).

Sales across all marketplaces

One Page Inventory shows 30 day sales across all marketplaces, with an intelligent stockouts formula applied. Each product lists the 30 day sales for FBA and FBM for each marketplace (with Remote Fulfillment factored in), as well as the combined totals. This number helps you with quick decision making and inventory planning.

What to replenish into each marketplace

One Page Inventory uses an aggregated replenishment algorithm so you know exactly what you need to send to each marketplace, as well as what your replenishment obligation is in total, therefore ensuring that A) you don’t ever go out of stock, and B) you are on track with supplies and orders from your manufacturer. This feature is extremely helpful with factoring in long transit times for international FBA warehouse replenishments.

One Page Inventory enables you to successfully manage multiple marketplaces, reduce the amount of time and effort spent determining warehouse replenishment numbers, and say goodbye to exhausting spreadsheets.

Read our blog post “Why Sellers Need a Robust Tool for Managing Inventory Across Multiple Amazon Marketplaces” for more information about the software benefits. And don’t forget to check out the FREE DEMO!

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