“Internationalisation” was the new buzz word at ChannelAdvisor EU Catalyst this year. Cross border trade is up according to everyone and the opportunity in the UK’s close neighbours in Europe is just too big to miss out on.
20% of all eBay business world wide now involves cross border trade, that means if you don’t sell outside your own country you have a potential 25% uplift in sale by making your items available overseas.
Amazon shared a slide showing that just four countries – The UK, Germany, France and Italy – represented 69% of the estimated $122 billion online retail spending in Western Europe in 2010.
So how easy do marketplaces make it for you to sell overseas?
Amazon allow buyers from anywhere in the world to buy from any Amazon site so long as the seller makes the product available for International shipping. If you use Amazon FBA then Amazon will take care of the shipping on your behalf which is probably the easiest way to make your items available worldwide.
However that relies on the buyer visiting the Amazon site that you list on – an item listed on Amazon.co.uk won’t appear on Amazon.de, if a German buyer wants to buy your item they will have to visit the Amazon.co.uk site.
For you to capture the maximum sales you will have to split your inventory and list directly onto Amazon.de to put your products directly in front of German buyers, and with Amazon expanding and adding a marketplace to Amazon Italy in the near future the number of sites for sellers to list on is increasing rapidly.
The complexity of listing inventory across multiple sites increases the overhead of management although software can simplify the problem. What software can’t do is help decide how much inventory to ship to each country if you have local warehouses or use Amazon FBA in each individual country.
eBay have a slightly different approach to Amazon. You can list on your home eBay site and make your product available world wide, and on some sites you can even pay extra for International Visibility to ensure your product appears in natural search results on selected other eBay sites.
Your items will most likely appear if the site your buyer is browsing has few or no search results, but in this case (as with Amazon) your item will appear listed in a foreign currency to the buyer.
To cater for buyers in countries where there is no eBay site eBay have their International Market. Fixed price listings from sellers who offer International Shipping. The big advantage is that the site will be translated into the local language with prices displayed in the buyer’s local currency. The only parts of the site that won’t be translated is the item title and description
In order to give the best shopping experience however eBay sellers need to list directly onto an overseas eBay site. There is a big difference in visibility for products “listed on” a site to those “available to” the site. This is where eBay’s solution falls down.
Currently your eBay account is held in your country of residence, and all the benefits such as fees, discounts etc are based on that eBay site. Whist you may have a featured shop and be able to list multiple quantity fixed price products on eBay UK for just £0.05 per listing, an equivalent listings on eBay.de will cost £2.00 or more to list.
eBay have over the last few years promoted to sellers that they will reduce the upfront risk and share in the rewards of seller success with low insertion fees and higher final value fees. eBay have yet to find a way to apply this to International transactions.
The UK is the biggest country in Europe for business to consumer online spending, we each spend around €1333 each year on the Internet. There are also plenty of competitors vying for our business, but in Europe the opportunities are just as good.
Germany is a bigger market, but they spend less per captia online than the UK, if you’re thinking of listing on overseas marketplaces then this is the first foreign language country to attack. France and Italy are also to big to ignore and Spain is the next country to put on your roadmap.
What is your international marketplace selling strategy? Do you list on your domestic eBay and Amazon sites and trust to luck that overseas buyers will find your products or do you actively list directly onto overseas sites? What is the one thing that eBay and Amazon could change about the internationalisation of their sites to increase your overseas sales?