We get this question on a daily basis here at Jungle Scout. “Can I sell on Amazon US if I am based in a different country?” or “How do I sell on Amazon US if I live outside of the USA?” So much so in fact, I thought I would put this post together to share the good news, that YES, you can, in fact, sell on Amazon US from ANYWHERE in the world and I’m going to explain exactly how to do so.
Selling on Amazon US Internationally
You can sell from Amazon US Marketplace from all corners of the globe, given you have a good internet connection! We have Jungle Scouters working for our team (Including myself!) living and traveling across the world who sell on Amazon, so we have all the information you’ll need to get set up in no time!
For the past year and then some, I have been traveling and living outside of the United States, and still selling private label products on Amazon as efficiently as if I were tethered to my desk like the olden days. Let Amazon handle all logistics and inventory storage, give me a good internet connection, and I have just gained my freedom to travel the world!
So I don’t need to be in the USA to sell in the Amazon US Marketplace?
So let’s get things straight, you do NOT need to be living in the USA to be eligible to sell on Amazon’s US store. I’m going to show you all exactly how to accomplish this so that you could be chillin’ on a beach in the Maldives or taking in the Northern Lights in Iceland, all the while selling on Amazon’s US marketplace.
Why Is It Better to Sell on Amazon’s U.S. Store?
First, a little context on Amazon U.S. and other international Amazon stores. Amazon’s largest region is North America (mainly sales from the U.S., but also Canada and Mexico), and the UK, Germany, and Japan make up the lion’s share of revenues.
However, Amazon’s most innovative services, such as Prime are so well utilized in the US, that in order to execute such a logistically intensive operation, Amazon needs to have a dense network of distribution centers and warehouses developed in the States.
How Do I Sell on the Amazon US marketplace
I want to preface this first by stating the obvious: I am not a financial advisor, tax lawyer, or otherwise. I just know this from my own experiences, and am sharing it from my time as a seller living outside of the States. So I am not going to delve into the state or federal tax requirements, but I obviously recommend that you do your due diligence and speak to a trusted advisor on that.
When setting up your Amazon store, here are some basic pieces of information you will need to prepare.
- Provide a credit card that can be charged internationally, Visa or Mastercard.
- A phone number—if you get a Skype US phone number, that will work in your favor.
- You will need to provide US bank account information. This may be a hassle as many banks require your presence in the States, but you do want Amazon to have a legit account to send the money, right? One solution that you can use is Amazon’s Currency Converter for Sellers (find that here). Granted, I have not gone through this process myself as I have a US bank account, but I know ACCS basically allows you to sell in foreign Amazon marketplaces without opening a bank account in that country. Instead, you are paid directly in your local bank in your local currency. Pretty sweet, huh? The one small caveat is that you can only receive payment to a bank account in a country and currency supported by ACCS. There is also a list of all the countries and currencies supported by Amazon’s Currency Converter for Disbursement.
There are some steps that you will have to follow in order to streamline the importing process.
- Create Your Amazon Listing: You have to create the listing on Amazon first, in order to receive the shipping destination and FBA warehouse that you will be sending the product to.
- Choose Your Customs Broker: In order to import your item into the US, you will need a Customs Broker to get your product into the States (unless you ship via Air like UPS, DHL, FedEx, in which case it is included as a service). Your customs broker will guide you through the exact process of clearing your shipment, and the requisite paperwork, documentation, taxes, and more. This is perhaps the least enviable aspect of selling on Amazon’s U.S. store, but something that all importers have to go through!
I went into more detail about the importing and shipping process in this post here. I don’t want to rehash the same information, but definitely take a look at that as well for information about importing from China into the United States.
How to Import and Store your Product Efficiently:
I think this is the trickiest part, and once you find a great partner, it makes all the difference in the world.
I use Flexport. They handle all the customs, freight forwarding, and inventory storage for me. They are injecting the importing game with a much-needed dose of technology, which is so critical in saving time and headaches. I do not necessarily want to recommend or comment on other services that I do not have first-hand experience, but with a quick Google search you should be able to identify the main service providers, and also other people’s experiences with different companies.
Here are a few types of services that I would recommend if you are selling in the U.S. from abroad:
Check Samples: As you may have seen with the marshmallow sticks that I have launched, there is a range of quality in both the physical product and the supplier themselves. You can be the judge of what the supplier may be like (communication skills, responsiveness, background check, etc), but you can’t necessarily get a great gauge of the quality of product if you don’t handle it yourself. Have the supplier send to you directly, wherever you are in the world, or have them send it to friends/family that can vet the product for you. Don’t just rely on photos or the supplier’s word when examining samples, you want a trusted source on your behalf to evaluate the product!
Quality Assurance: Though you will probably never touch your product if you are abroad, you want to make sure that the quality of the finished product matches the quality of the sample. I have seen and heard cases where there is a noticeable difference between the two. For my marshmallow sticks, I checked the first batch of 100 units, which were up to par, and then I have not touched the product since. Bamboo marshmallow sticks are fairly straightforward to produce, but if there is some nuance to the production or something that is fragile or requires precision, you may want to look into third party inspection services. I would recommend doing this while the product is in China, where it would be easier to rectify than once it has gone through the importing process.
Fulfillment Prep Centers: I have seen more of these services pop up recently, as there is a need to get products from your overseas supplier to Amazon’s warehouses. Normally I am a big advocate of removing any middleman possible (why reduce your profit margin that we work so hard for if at all possible?), however, I definitely see a need for these services. It is similar to an insurance policy that everything from the factory is prepared accurately according to Amazon’s guidelines. It is even so important for overseas sellers to get all of the packaging and prep requirements to meet Amazon’s standards. You can see their detailed instructions here. If your products are not received by Amazon ready for fulfillment, you will incur additional fees, and worse yet, Amazon will reject the shipment and return it to you at your own expense.
Storage: Depending on the size of your product, you will want to look into storage options. Depending on how new of a seller you are, and how slowly your inventory moves, you may be subject to Amazon’s Inventory Storage Limits, particularly for items that are classified by Amazon as oversized. This becomes a bit of an inventory management game, as you may want to order 1000 more units from your supplier, but can only house 500 units at a given time. Flexport is great for this, as they store inventory at their warehouses until I decide to send it to Amazon’s warehouse. The fees are very reasonable, but again, you should do some searching on Google or Amazon seller forums to find alternatives.
There may be some details and steps that I have not included, as everyone has their own systems and vendors. Are you living outside of the United States and currently selling on Amazon U.S.? If that’s the case, I’d love to hear any tips that you can share so that we can all sell more. The ability to travel the world while still building and launching an ecommerce business has been an amazing experience, and I hope that each of you can take advantage of the location independence that the Fulfillment by Amazon offers us! To our success and travels…