When To Start Selling in Europe?

“Amazon is saturated”

“FBA is dead”

You’ve probably heard it all by now. With sentiments like this being thrown around it’s no surprise that new sellers fail before they can even get started.

What if you heard phrases like:

“FBA is alive!”

“The market is hotter than ever!”

I don’t generally like hyperboles but I sincerely believe that Amazon EU just might be the untapped giant that you’re looking for.

The Heydays of Amazon

Several years ago, you could throw up any product on Amazon and start making money overnight. What a time that must have been.

Unfortunately, we’re not all e-commerce old timers and weren’t around to take advantage of these early times on Amazon.

Fortunately though, it’s now 2018 and Amazon is spreading like wildfire. We do know now that Amazon EU combines 5 marketplaces, which is growing year over year. Sure, demand isn’t the same as the US market, but neither is the competition.

The 7 Figure EU Seller Epiphany

Months ago I had considered launching on Amazon in the EU but was talked out of it.

People kept saying it’s too difficult, VAT is a nightmare, too complicated, etc. Without research myself, I gave up before trying. I just figured I’d launch in the EU after I’ve hit XX dollars in sales…Whatever that means.

Then, I saw an interesting post on Reddit.

This guy launched in the UK in the beginning of 2018 and is now on track to hit 7 figures by end of year. He preaches that launching in the EU was the single most important factor in his success for a few reasons:

  • Considerably less competition
  • Bigger barriers to entry
  • Ease of expansion into multiple marketplaces

Essentially, this guy explained that demand is less than the US market but launching successfully and actually getting sales is disproportionately easier. He even mentioned that most of his “dud” products were products he launched in the US market.

He’s now doing roughly $15k in profit per month.

Well, seeing this sparked something in me and I decided to take a look for myself.

How The Chinese Cheaters Saved Me Big Time

I first looked up one of my current US products in the UK market. What I found was pretty surprising…

There was decent demand for sellers who had barely any reviews—I’m talking less than 10! I started to get excited. I checked Amazon.de (Germany) and used a translator to check out my product there too!

What I found shocked me…

I found my product!?

Huh?

Someone had taken my images and were using them for THEIR listing. My stomach dropped and I filled with a tinge of rage. I’ve dealt with hijackers before so I’m becoming accustomed to this feeling of having your hard work taken advantage of.

But then I ran the sales estimates and my rage turned into excitement.

The seller who had stolen MY images were selling 800 UNITS PER MONTH!!!

Wow!

So what does this mean?

My product has been validated in the EU without me having to take on any financial risk. I quickly realized that if I launched in the EU I could easily take a piece of this pie. After all, my images were the best selling product on there for my niche!

So I looked up the other EU marketplaces as well—Italy, Spain, and France, etc.

And guess what I found?!

More Chinese sellers who stole my images and making sales!!!

So I did what Harrison does best and reported all of them, easily taking down more than 20 listings who had copied my images.

Ahhh sweet sweet victory.

But my work isn’t over.

Getting VAT Registered

Seeing multiple sellers making money with my images obviously motivated me quite hard. I quickly found out what was necessary to start selling in the EU.

For any seller who wants to sell in the EU, you need to have a VAT and EORI number in each country you sell in, but there are some exceptions to this rule.

First of all, you only need to be VAT registered in each country if you exceed a certain sales threshold. This differs based on each country but you can find that info here: https://www.vatlive.com

If you don’t reach those sales numbers then you don’t have to be VAT registered. However, even if you don’t hit those sales numbers you do have to register for VAT in any country where you hold inventory.

Since I planned to ship to the UK, I decided to get VAT registered in the UK. Keep in mind, you can STILL sell cross border to other countries while maintaining all inventory in the UK fulfillment centers. Amazon has a cool program for this that I will explain in the next section.

This is where many people give up. Figuring out how to register for VAT feels complicated and bureaucratic and no one wants to deal with these headaches.

I reached out to some friends and registered with a company called Regional Express. I filled out their application and got my VAT and EORI in literally 48 hours!

During this time I also registered for Global Selling on Amazon, which is as simple as filling out some forms and adding your banking information.

I couldn’t quite understand what all the fuss is about.

It seems that it’s a small price to pay for access to sell in all of Europe.

Pan-European Fulfillment

There are a few ways you can start selling on Amazon in the EU. Amazon pushes for sellers to sign up for Pan-European Fulfillment which means that your inventory will be distributed to fulfillment centers across Europe, allowing quickest access to your products and enabling Prime shipping for all marketplaces.

This is nice, but if you remember from the rules above, holding inventory in all these fulfillment centers would require you to ALSO register for VAT in each of these respective countries.

This is something I didn’t want to deal with. At least not yet.

European Fulfillment Network

On the other hand is European Fulfillment Network (EFN), which allows you to send in inventory to a single fulfillment center and fulfill orders via FBA cross border to other countries.

For example, I can create listings in multiple countries (i.e. Germany, Spain, France, etc), while holding my inventory in the UK. When a customer from Germany purchases my product, the fulfillment center from UK ships my product out to that customer. This keeps me from registering for VAT in Germany until I hit that sales threshold.

Amazon has greatly reduced the headache here, allowing sellers to access multiple marketplaces with the push of a button (kind of). This is the same option that I will partake in until I see that it’s necessary to expand or get VAT registered in the other countries.

When Should You Sell in Europe?

If you’re already selling in the US then it makes sense to at least check your product on the other marketplaces. You can see if there is any demand for your listing and also check if shady Chinese sellers have jacked all of your copyrighted content.

If you’re a new seller and haven’t launched a product yet then I would urge you to at least check out the opportunities in other marketplaces.

As I said before, sales might not be as large as the US but your ability to launch, get ranked, and achieve organic sales will likely be easier in the EU compared to the US.

Furthermore, if you do happen to find some success in one marketplace, duplicating your listing and launching in all of the other EU marketplaces is super easy. You just need to translate the listing and voila! You’re now listed in Spain, France, Germany, and others.

This last week I bit the bullet and placed an order for 500 units to test out with the plan of launching in the UK and Germany to start. I’m excited about learning this market and seeing what other opportunities arise.

The way I see it, Amazon EU is still largely untapped and right now is a good time to become familiar with how it all works before it becomes WAY more competitive in two to three years.

Get on there and check it out for yourself and tell me what you think!

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4 Comments

  1. Silicon

    Thanks for sharing your experience. US market is really hard to get a good sale now. I will follow your steps and see if I have any luck!

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