How to Start Selling on Amazon Seller Central Europe

Disclaimer: This is the most current information as of February 2021 regarding selling on Amazon seller central Europe. However, due to Brexit, the UK and Europe are in the process of navigating their own rules and regulations, which is constantly changing.

Why Sell via Amazon Seller Central Europe?

Many US-based Amazon sellers look to Canada or Mexico when contemplating the expansion of their Amazon business outside of the United States. However, selling on Amazon Seller Central Europe is a worthy market to explore.

Amazon Europe is significantly larger than Canada or Mexico. Plus, Germany and the UK represent the largest eCommerce countries in Europe and each come with their own benefits for Amazon sellers.

Germany has a favorable geographical location making it a hub for delivery efficiency when it comes to selling across Europe. Additionally, the UK is an English speaking country. Both of these benefits play to the advantage of sellers, making these countries ones to consider when expanding one’s selling footprint.


Amazon is Established in Europe

Headquartered in Luxembourg, Amazon’s commitment to the European market is substantial. In 2020 Amazon created 20,000 new jobs across Europe. That has increased their employee population to more than 135,000 across 15 European countries. There are also now more than 135 sites across Europe, including corporate offices, technology development centers, customer and seller service operations, logistics infrastructure and AWS data center regions.

Amazon has established marketplaces in six European countries.

  • Germany - Amazon.de
  • UK - Amazon.co.uk
  • France - Amazon.fr
  • Italy - Amazon.it
  • Spain - Amazon.es
  • Netherlands - Amazon.nl

That translates to millions of new, organic, customers for you as a seller, since the unified platform gives you access to Amazon shoppers across Europe. Sales are expended to reach more than $370 billion in Europe by the end of 2020. That is an 8.8% increase year over year.

One distinct advantage of expanding into this populous marketplace is that some categories that may be saturated in the US are ripe for expansion in Amazon Seller Central Europe. The European marketplace provides great opportunities for sales growth, but keep in mind that the more you expand into new regions with different laws, customs, cultures, etc., the more administrative work there will be to do, ongoing. So, as in all things Amazon, preparation is key.


How Brexit Affects Selling in Europe

2020 was a year of many changes, including the UK leaving Europe. While the UK will still be part of Amazon’s EU marketplace, other changes are important to pay attention to. The UK-EU negotiations are ongoing to determine what tariffs, if any, will apply. From January 1, 2021 there will be a customs border between the UK and EU which will have an impact on businesses.

One helpful piece of advice that Amazon shared for sellers was geared towards how you can protect your sales in Europe. Amazon suggested splitting up inventory and sending it to fulfilment centers in the UK and EU. That way you’ll have sufficient stock on each side of the new customs border. However, depending on how you have your shipping set up this may not be an option. Currently Pan-European FBA and EFN FBA options can no longer transfer inventory between the UK and the rest of the EU. Additionally, Amazon can no longer fulfill FBA orders or transfer inventory between the UK and the rest of EU.

It is important to note that this information is constantly changing. To stay up-to-date on how Brexit could affect your Amazon business, please log into your Seller Central UK account and visit Amazon’s help page, Prepare Your Amazon Business for Brexit.



4 Steps to Starting Selling on Amazon Europe

While expanding your selling landscape into other countries can be intimidating, there are a number of resources at your disposal. Since selling on Amazon seller central Europe is such a vast marketplace, covering 15 countries, Amazon has put in efforts to better explain the process and help with common questions and concerns. Additionally, hiring an outside Amazon consulting agency, like Awesome Dynamic, can help you streamline the entire process from paperwork to shipping products.

Step 1:
Deciding Where and What Products are Best to Sell in Europe

One of the main considerations you should have as a seller when thinking about selling in another country is to understand the customer. Knowing your audience is important because something that sells well in the United States may be taboo in Europe, or vice versa. Research the potential customers. Know their preferences, understand their culture and language. Then you can properly tailor your products to meet those needs. Additionally, you’ll need to make sure your product complies with the countries taxes, regulations and laws.

Step 2:
Register and List Your Product for Sale

Visit the sell globally page in your Amazon Seller Central account, and create a European selling account. This will allow you to track all your listings in one place. Next, you will need to decide which products you want to sell in Europe (don’t forget to think about the audience like we discussed in step one). Amazon has tools available to help set pricing and translate your product listing to the appropriate language.

Step 3:
Ship Your Products to Europe and Customers

As an Amazon seller you can choose to ship and fulfill orders on your own, enlist the services of Amazon or do a combination of both. Amazon’s European Fulfillment Network allows sellers to shop their inventory to one fulfillment center. This FBA option works similarly to the US version. Amazon will store, pack and ship your orders. This option also makes your products Prime eligible. We will dive deeper into your shipping options below.

Step 4:
Manage and Grow Your Business

One thing to note is that selling internationally on Amazon requires you provide customer support in the country's language in which you are selling. If you are selling with FBA you will receive the added benefit of having Amazon provide customer support in the appropriate language. Just like selling in the US it’s important to optimize your listing and advertising. This will help to get more eyes on your products and encourage sales.


Fulfilling Amazon Seller Central Europe Orders

Seller Fulfilled Options

An Amazon seller can choose to fulfill orders themselves from the US or Europe.

Shipping from US


Pros

  • Low cost option
  • Only pay referral fee (no FBA fees, etc.)
  • You won’t pay Europe’s value added tax (VAT) on the sale. In Europe, the sales tax, or VAT, is built into the seller’s advertised price, not tacked on after. The advertised price a European consumer sees is the price they pay, tax included.

Cons

  • Long lead time to get shipments from US to Europe, which may deter buyers and will not allow you to obtain the Prime badge
  • Customers may be responsible for paying Europe’s value added tax (VAT) on the sale, as imported merchandise. Ordinarily, for goods bought and sold within Europe, the VAT would be built into the advertised price.
  • Risk providing a poor customer service experience between shipping and customs issues.

Shipping from Europe (you store your merchandise in a European country)


This option allows you to ship products and store them at one European warehouse location.

Pros

  • Only pay referral fee (no FBA fees, etc.)
  • Shorter shipping time to customers since the product is already in Europe and not overseas
  • Can possibly apply for Seller Fulfilled Prime if you can absorb the extra expenses involved with getting it to you customer within two business days (i.e., your merchandise is Prime eligible without using FBA).

Cons

  • Expensive to get started. High setup costs and overhead involved with shipping to an EU fulfillment center or warehouse from outside of Europe. You must establish a fulfillment center or warehouse, and contract with someone in Europe to fill the orders for you.
  • You are responsible for making sure the VAT gets paid. As the tax implications between the EU and UK are constantly changing we recommend talking with a tax expert to ensure that you are up-to-date on these changes.
  • If you want to be Seller Fulfilled Prime, you must register for it. Approvals can be complex

Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) Options

Amazon offers fulfillment options utilizing their FBA European Fulfillment Network (EFN), FBA Pan European or FBA Multi-Country Inventory. Keep in mind that FBA Pan European may be the path of least resistance, and preferred by most sellers, depending on your seller objectives.

FBA European Fulfillment Network (EFN)

Pros

  • No setup fees for warehouse, fulfillment network, third-party logistics, etc.
  • Fast delivery – shipping is within Europe
  • Prime eligible
  • FBA fees are typically lower than third-party logistics

Cons

  • Cross-border fees (customs) apply from your home country to other countries, adding a complex layer of details to your fulfillment spend.
  • At this time it is unclear where you need to be VAT registered. We recommend talking with a tax expert to ensure that you are up-to-date on these changes.
  • Although still Prime eligible, non-home country deliveries take up to three days longer

FBA Pan European

This option enables you to send stock to one fulfillment center (warehouse) in a country of your choosing from which Amazon Europe will re-distribute that stock to areas where most demand will be, per Amazon’s algorithms. It is possible the merchandise will be distributed among all distribution centers in all of the EU (from FBA warehouses located in Germany, France, Spain and Italy). The UK is no longer part of FBA Pan European.

Pros

  • FBA fees are typically lower than third-party logistics
  • Inbound shipping costs remain low
  • No cross-border fees (which can be quite pricey)
  • Fast delivery in all markets
  • Prime eligible
  • Good for sellers who are unsure where in the EU their best market for certain items may be

Cons

  • Each country has different referral and FBA fees but not a huge difference in percentile points
  • Need to be VAT-registered in multiple countries

FBA Multi-Country Inventory (MCI)


FBA MCI allows sellers to ship products to multiple FBA fulfillment centers across multiple countries. Generally this option is for sellers who know exactly where in Europe is their best market. For example, garden tools will sell better in the UK than they will in Spain, since more people, per household, actively garden in the UK, etc.

Pros

  • FBA fees are typically lower than third-party logistics
  • Full control of what country holds inventory
  • No cross border fees
  • Fast Prime delivery

Cons

  • Higher inbound costs for shipments into each warehouse directly, or for paying a third-party logistics service to split up and deliver your inventory (unlike the above Pan European option where Amazon handles this, it falls to you with the MCI option).
  • VAT registered in multiple countries (inconsistent FBA fees)
  • Cost of shipping to multiple EU fulfillment centers

The 4 L's of Selling Overseas

Localization

  • Currency differences between Euros (mainland Europe) and Pound Sterling (UK)
    • If you operate at tight margins, consider the foreign exchange costs even if it is only a percent or two.
  • Differences in metrics. Do the proper conversions in your product descriptions (centimeters, grams, etc.).
  • Categories and category labels may be different per region.
    • Make sure you place your item in the correct category.
    • Differences in lexicon. Certain words do not mean the same thing in different countries. Ensure you know the different terms.
    • Example: Pants in the US are long pants. Pants in the EU are often underpants (underwear). Trash bags = rubbish / bin bags in the EU.
    • If you sell electronics, consider the different plug types.
    • Keywords need to be altered to suit the local lexicon

Language

  • You will need to translate information into the correct language in Europe.
    • Not always mandatory, but helps increase conversion rates.
    • This includes keywords, description, title, and bullets.
  • Amazon offers expert translation services, for extra fees, as an option.
  • Customer service
    • If you fulfill orders yourself (seller fulfilled), you will need to be able to provide customer service in customers' home language.
    • If you use FBA, Amazon will handle your customer service, thus taking care of the language barrier.

Legislation

Having a lawyer on your side when selling on Amazon Europe is crucial to ensure you have covered all legal aspects and rights for selling your product. We recommend Ted Luymes at Ted Luymnes Law Firm.

  • Make sure your intellectual property rights extend from the US to the UK and EU.
  • If you have exclusive distribution rights for selling in the US it does not mean you can sell the UK and Europe.
    • There might be another company with exclusive rights for certain European regions.
  • CE markings (the abbreviation of French phrase "Conformité Européene" which literally means "European Conformity”) is a mandatory marking system for certain products in the UK and EU arena.
    • Toys, medical devices and low voltage electronics require this marking/testing.
  • EU consumer rights differ in the US, UK and EU
    • There are many cancellation and warranty differences.
    • If you sell through FBA, Amazon covers and takes care of these consumer rights.
    • If you sell FBM, you are responsible for compliance with these consumer rights.
  • UK and EU directives apply to small electronic devices
    • You need to adhere and agree to regional recycling and disposal laws.
  • Product compliance and restricted products
    • Each country has different compliance and restrictions.
    • Toys, medical devices, and certain electronics
  • VAT (Value Added Tax)
    • Inclusive (included in retail price)
    • Different than US where you pay sales tax at checkout to retail price
    • Seller is responsible for filing VAT returns, declaring sales tax, and invoicing your VAT.
    • Consult a tax adviser (We recommend Ben Stein at Payoneer.) due to different variables with VAT, where you register, your legal selling thresholds per country, etc. Consider them having them manage all aspects so you are legally abiding by all UK and EU laws without heavy research or prior knowledge.
    • VAT varies in each country.

Logistics

  • Packaging
    • UK and Europe often require specific labels that are mandatory under legislation on certain categories; usually this applies to food products and apparel.
    • The more you translate and help customers, the better. Instructions/leaflets should be translated as well; the more languages, the better. This helps to minimize your return rate.
    • You’ll need to be familiar with the international shipping, imports and customs processes. For this reason, it may be beneficial to partner with a company that can manage your logistics thus making sure your product gets imported correctly from beginning to end.
    • Storage and order handling; you need to decide how you want to proceed. Will you be handing shipping in-house, with a third-party logistics company or utilizing Amazon’s FBA.
    • Products cannot be returned to the US. Everything needs to be returned to a UK and/or EU address because Amazon won’t pay to send it back to the US. This is important for those with high retail value items for which disposal is not an option for returns. Keep in mind that refurbished items can still be resold.

Get Organized to Sell on Amazon Europe

Getting everything lined up and organized is important in order to avoid a myriad of extraneous warnings and fees. If your procedures are clear it could lead to major setbacks such as Amazon locking up your inventory, holding your money, suspending your account, etc. Don’t let it scare you off because it is a huge marketplace, with huge potential but the key to success is due diligence.

Expanding your Amazon marketplace to include Amazon Seller Central Europe is an exciting opportunity and potentially lucrative. Proceed with caution and considerable forethought. Ensure you have the structure and resources in place to make it work.

Amazon also put together a helpful guide that runs through preparing to sell on Amazon Europe. This guide to global selling has advice for preparing to sell, registering, VAT and more.


Awesome Dynamic provides consulting services to Amazon sellers. For more information, call us at 800.238.1811.

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