This post is by Chris McCabe, a former Investigation Specialist for Amazon’s Seller Performance team and founder of ecommerceChris.com. ecommerceChris shows Amazon sellers how to keep their accounts healthy, or, if the worst should happen, how to get their account back from a suspension.
Amazon Australia launched recently and to much fanfare. As I continue to gather up and process seller experiences from both established ecommerce players and those new to Amazon, I’m also examining Amazon’s moves thus far to see what will come next.
We had some indications of Amazon’s approach during the Seller Summit in Sydney. I got a strong sense of the efforts Amazon made to present themselves as the new best way to shop online in Australia.
eBay planted seeds in Australian soil and grew a solid reputation early on, as I learned during my visit earlier in 2017. But, clearly past ecommerce marketplace sales will not look like future ones, now that Amazon is engaged and expanding.
Since the summit, I’ve managed to speak with internal Amazon team members who work on the Australian marketplace and get some tips from them. In this post, I will share these tips, alongside some of my own guidance, and the opinions of some sellers who attended the summit in Sydney, just for good measure.
- How do I get started selling in Australia?
- What do sellers think about Amazon in Australia?
- In Closing
How do I get started selling in Australia?
It is well worth checking out the possibility of selling in Australia, because it’s a big ecommerce market waiting to happen! Sure, Amazon pushed everyone to sell in China last year to mixed results. In 2018, Australia will be the next hot marketplace they push and it is fair to say that the potential for quick growth is there, for those looking to make inroads into new markets. It’s a very different proposition to China.
So, here are some top tips and factors to consider, if you’re thinking about selling your products on Amazon Australia.
You need to make contacts and stay in touch with them, but make sure you do it the right way. Try to avoid starting any working relationship with an account or category manager by asking them for help beyond their purview. Every seller wants help with sales in the US or UK/EU, we know that. But if Amazon puts you in contact with someone to talk through selling in Australia, work on that first and leave the rest for another time. Also, don’t start by asking everyone for help with Seller Performance, they hate that!
Tailor your strategy
Before you start selling, make sure you understand how selling on Amazon Australia will be different from selling in the US or on other marketplaces. You need to find out whether Amazon Australia has any unique policies or special promotions, and you also need to be aware of any legal differences between your home country and Australia that could affect the products you sell. It’s a good idea to make a list, if you can, of what you need to be careful of. Don’t just plan to copy and paste inventory from one marketplace straight onto another.
Get your information directly
Take policy answers from Amazon’s Business Development team with a grain of salt. Make sure you ask your Business Development contact for official answers from people who know compliance in Australia, such as policy teams or category managers. In fact, this is an excellent reason to ask for an introduction to your category manager.
Ultimately, it’s crucial that you know how to stay on Amazon’s bright side, so you don’t get off on the wrong foot in Australia.
Use what you know
If you’re an existing seller, you need to leverage your experience of selling on Amazon. For example, if you’re familiar with how Amazon does business and you’re selling well in the US, that’s wonderful! It means you’re already ten times better positioned to offer Amazon-friendly prices and a solid buyer experience in Australia.
Make sure you push for a strategic account manager and highlight your year-over-year sales, alongside your excellent metrics and lack of policy violations.
Address problems head-on
Have you had any prior metrics problems or policy slip-ups? Now is the best time to show Amazon how you’ve improved, enhanced your operations, or simply learned from past mistakes.
You may have received a notification and immediately moved to rectify process gaps or listing errors. Instead of ignoring it, show them that you first identified the shortcomings. You then performed diagnostics and other tests on your processes to find out what else might be lacking. Finally, you demonstrated your seriousness by taking significant actions to remedy any problems. Amazon will appreciate that you’re taking care of things and it gives them confidence that you’re ready to roll into a new marketplace.
Don’t forget taxes
If this is your first time operating in Australia you need to consider tax implications. Australia has a unified tax system, which is much less complex to deal with than the US. They impose a Goods and Services Tax (GST) on non-essential items. You can learn more about your tax obligations on imports on the Australian Tax Office’s website.
Think about shipping
Consider logistics. Import duties and domestic freight can eat into your margins. But, if you’re shipping directly from China, Australia isn’t very far away. While Australians are used to paying more for goods, they are also expecting Amazon to be cheaper than bricks and mortar stores.
What do sellers think about Amazon in Australia?
I caught up with a couple of sellers who attended the Sydney summit. These questions cover their thoughts on Amazon’s efforts in Australia so far.
1. Seller account management
What do sellers think of Amazon’s merchant relations in Australia so far? Are they going to be approachable and offer resources, and are there good avenues for getting questions answered?
I was expecting harder data from the Country Manager, regarding what may be expected as a seller from Amazon Australia in terms of relevant models: size of the opportunity, etc.
The seller panel at the summit focused on the rosy side of being a seller but there was no mention about how easy it is to have an account suspended, just because one customer out of 1000 finds a fault with your product.
In addition to how to list a product, it would have been useful if they had stressed the importance of studying Amazon policies. A seller in the panel openly admitted to listing a banned baby monitor product only to find a loophole in the system, list it again, and sell the inventory. That was the window to discuss policy.
Anecdotally, an account manager went on stage last and suggested that the process to find a winning product was to list a lot of items and see what “sticks.” I don’t know that this is the best guidance for new sellers.
We’ve been working this past week on adding products to our AU inventory and have had a lot of issues around conflicting listings on the US marketplace. These were mostly old listings which matched the barcodes.
The issue is that there is currently no Seller Support to assist us and even my AU Account Manager isn’t being very helpful around these tech issues with Seller Central. It feels like they have generated the AU site off a US instance and the whole thing isn’t quite ready for general use.
2. Amazon’s prospects in the country
Despite its relatively small population, Australia is already in the top 10 ecommerce markets. How can Amazon capture this established market?
Australians already buy billions from Amazon US with many having to redirect orders that don’t ship to Australia to secured lockers in different states and have them consolidated and forwarded on. Perhaps, given a sufficient offer of products this traffic may be redirected to Amazon Australia.
Amazon has huge brand recognition, so that coupled with convenience of purchase and customer experience will likely play well over time. I guess the biggest hurdle initially is getting people to sign up and try the service.
Amazon geared the Sydney summit around recruiting sellers and explaining how to sell on Amazon for beginners. They’re looking to expand selection across a new marketplace and I understand that motivation entirely, but I always wonder how quickly sellers will begin to see enforcement actions creep in, and limit their abilities to sell.
I’m learning more about Amazon Australia every day, just like all interested sellers are, and making connections where I can. Given what I’ve found out so far, there’s a lot of room to profit on Amazon’s latest marketplace.
This post was written by Chris McCabe. Chris can be contacted via ecommerceChris.com.