How US Brands Can Leverage Amazon for International Expansion

Prime is a game changer for global ecommerce

Author: Jasmine Enberg

November 20, 2018

Amazon is an ecommerce powerhouse in the US. But outside its country of origin, it accounts for only a small piece of worldwide retail ecommerce sales—13.3% in 2018 based on our latest forecast. But that doesn't mean marketers should discount Amazon's influence on consumers around the world. Experts agree that it's a remarkable tool for brands that want to expand internationally. 

Marketer's Jasmine Enberg spoke with Daniel Knijnik, co-founder and CEO of Amazon advertising agency Quartile and Andrea Omodei, head of digital and ecommerce at Italy-based cosmetics company Alfaparf Group, about the benefits of working with Amazon abroad and how Prime set customer expectations of the online shopping experience. Knijnik and Omodei were interviewed as part of eMarketer's November report "Amazon Around the World: 'Primed' for International Expansion but Faces Challenges from Alibaba, MercadoLibre, Flipkart and Others."

Why should US brands seriously consider selling their products on an international Amazon platform?

Daniel Knijnik

 Daniel Knijnik: Amazon is a familiar channel for US companies. They already sell on Amazon.com, so they have their product pages set up, and they know how logistics and marketing work on Amazon. It doesn't take a lot of extra work. 

here's a large possibility that Amazon will become dominant internationally. If it does, their products will already be there.

Andrea Omodei: Amazon isn't just an ecommerce platform—it's also an advertising medium. It's a way to reach a huge audience that can be hard to reach on other channels. In Italy alone, there are about 22 million unique visitors to Amazon per month, so working with Amazon is becoming mandatory.

Why do you think Amazon will become dominant abroad?

Daniel Knijnik: Once Amazon fully establishes Prime culture abroad, it'll be difficult for local ecommerce players to compete. We saw that happen here in the US. Prime customers can log in to their account, search for an item, and with a click or two they've bought it. And they know it'll arrive in two days. If they want to return it, they can press one button and it's done. That user experience is very hard to emulate.

Andrea Omodei

Andrea Omodei: Amazon has raised the bar for its competitors. Customers now expect to have the same level of service they get from Amazon everywhere else, and other digital retailers are struggling to match that.

With Prime, for example, you can order a product, and you know that it will arrive in 48 hours. Obviously, it can be more difficult for smaller, local retailers to offer the same level of service as Amazon, but shoppers don't care about that. They just want the best service they can get.

What advice do you have for companies looking to launch their products on Amazon's international platforms?

Daniel Knijnik: Use a local translation service to translate your listings and product pages to the language of every market you plan to sell in. Some of Amazon's international platforms, like Amazon.co.uk, reach customers from many different countries, so you have to translate to those languages as well.

Start small. Research what types of products are already popular in the countries you are interested in. Not all products have global appeal, so try to understand if people are interested in the products you want to take there. Then, choose a few products for a soft opening based on that criteria.

Andrea Omodei: Listing your product on Amazon is just the beginning. You also need to promote the listing to boost your relevance in search results on the platform. Amazon gives you the advertising tools to do that.