As in the US, one of the main things to decide is whether to fulfill orders yourself, use FBA, or use a combination of both.
Benefits of FBAFBA can provide an ideal way to get started selling in Europe.
“We started with a warehouse closer to the Europe fulfillment centers, so we spent a good deal of time and money researching and setting up the warehouse to perform how we needed,” says the seller who expanded to Europe in 2015. “In the end, we chose to skip the warehouse and just use a freight forwarder, which reduced our inventory costs.”
Her business did its due diligence in trying out freight forwarders and “working out a system that will get our inventory straight from the manufacturer into the fulfillment center.”
“FBA simplified our launch process in Europe significantly,” says Carolina Aguerrevere of Hot Chocolate Design. “We sent inventory to a fulfillment center in the UK, which fulfills orders across all five European marketplaces. Compared to fulfilling each individual order ourselves, FBA was more cost-competitive. It also provided Prime badging, which is important for sales conversion.”
Keep in mind that using FBA in Europe does involve some costs.
As soon as you ship inventory into Europe, you might have to pay import value-added tax (VAT) upon its arrival. For example, in the UK, the import VAT rate is currently 20%.
“For our business, the initial cash outlay for import VAT was a substantial amount,” says Dan McCarthy of Blink Home Security. “However, we were confident that our sales velocity would be sufficient to minimize that loss in working capital between paying VAT at customs and final product sale.”
Advantages of self-fulfillmentFor some sellers, fulfilling European orders themselves may make sense. Some sellers use a combination of both FBA and self-fulfillment (MFN).
“To maximize their listings and get a better sense of what sells well, some sellers list items as MFN,” Robi says. “This can be an effective option for sellers whose products are less influenced by fast delivery speeds.”
Another benefit of self-fulfilling into Europe is that, because you’re not holding inventory in the country, you don’t have to pay import VAT.
When researching MFN, be sure to review international carrier rates and delivery times.
“If you’re considering MFN for Europe, keep local consumer expectations in mind,” says Heather Jones-Zielinska of Amazon’s European Marketplace team. “You need to provide accurate shipping times. You should also make sure to handle additional duties and taxes on your products, in order to avoid exposing your customers to delays. This can impact your reviews and ratings.”