24 June 2021
The vendor challenge:
International expansion & listings on Amazon
The content of this article focusses on Amazon Vendors.
As an e-commerce manager you see that sales on marketplace Amazon are going well: the demand for your products is increasing. More and more often, the question arises of expanding into other markets. Amazon is already present in many European countries and plans to open more markets. What is stopping you from selling internationally?
Amazon promotes international expansion on its platforms, as Amazon's core business is more business. Amazon has automated much of its sales to make selling on the platform as easy as possible for Vendors, but from our expertise we know that it is not as easy as it seems. Maze-One has experienced the difficulties for vendor clients and in this article we highlight the most common pitfalls with international listings.
Automated international placement of content can give you a headache
A new vendor enters a market via Amazon in one specific country, e.g. Germany. All listings are live on Amazon.de. Since Amazon is almost fully automated and supply and demand counts, the marketplace automatically places the listings on Amazon platforms in other countries. The content, like product texts, are automatically translated to the specific country, done by a computer. This automated international placement seems helpful, but has huge consequences for your product branding and sales. Most of the time the product content does not translate smoothly into the country’s language: the brand and product are poorly presented and does not meet the brand standards. For example, we have seen the brand name Red Bull being literally translated to 'Rode Stier' and strange translations in bullet points, which all effects the algorithm and therefore products are not found by consumers.
The many requests of our clients to help with this show the frustration of the mistranslation by Amazon. Translation errors are the first thing a brand wants to avoid when expanding into new countries and marketplaces. They confuse buyers, can lead to unsatisfying sales, and jeopardise your brand and credibility as a vendor. The localisation of your listings is something that requires a “local touch”. Only a native speaker from your target country with a thorough understanding of the culture really knows how to adapt your product information for local buyers.
Beware with product images and videos
Another big challenge that vendors are facing is the content in images and videos.
Beware, when adapting images and videos: if a translator adapts images and videos to one specific country, Amazon will implement this adaptation everywhere, so the problem is squared! The problem needs to get smaller, not bigger. Especially with videos, we know that good and informative videos increase conversion.
Where is the stock located?
The next challenge vendors with expansion ambitions could face is on the backside of the Amazon account: the inventory of the products. Amazon calculates the amount of stock by taking the stock of the country in which the brand started selling on Amazon. For example, the German market (amazon.de) is the market in which you started. Should the brand be for sale in Spain too via amazon.es, Amazon will still calculate the amount of stock from Germany. This can give a wrong impression of the figures per country. From a financial perspective, brands work with managers per country, they look at the turnover per country and financial figures per market. This will certainly have an effect on listings and in the end on sales…. Or worse... the brand can lose the buy-button option.
Positive point: reviews remain
Aren’t there any positive things about the automated expansion on Amazon with international listings? Of course there are! Product reviews are linked to an asin-listing and the reviews can be transferred with the product in another market. All collected stars and positive reviews can be taken to the new country and the text will stay in the language the review is given. So no mistranslations here, and customers can choose for themselves if they want to have the review translated (simple via a translation button).
To minimize the frustration and maximize the international expansion, Maze-One advises to stay in control. How? By acknowledge the fact that Amazon will automatically take over and only looks at the supply and demand side. It is important to control brand’s own content and turnover figures.
We advise to approach each market separately. Just avoid the possibility that Amazon automatically place listings to other countries. Start with creating an international content strategy, which is localised per country. Take into consideration that entering a new market takes time. With no advertising opportunities in the first couple of months, being found organically on the new platform is very relevant. Having good and local matching content in place is key to have a head start. After a few months the strategic advertising will follow, which is one of Maze-one’ specialties.
Maze-One knows exactly the pitfalls per country, the importance of alignment and challenges that a brand can face when entering a new market. On a daily basis our marketplace experts work with the Amazon challenges and we love to help with a brand' strategic considerations across different Amazon marketplaces. Maze-One is up-to-date with developments, new Amazon markets and is ready to help your brand with the international expansion: let's avoid headaches.