Selling Internationally on Amazon with Expert – Kevin Sanderson

Episode 41

In this episode, we will be interviewing Kevin Sanderson, the Founder of Maximizing Ecommerce Podcast and successful eCommerce brand owner. He is a full-time eCommerce seller who also helps others grow their businesses.

Let’s dive right in and gain some valuable insights to expand your eCommerce business internationally. 

[00:01 – 07:11] Creating the Freedom to Reach your Dreams

  • We introduce our guest Kevin Sanderson 
  • Kevin talks about his career background and journey
  • Kevin talks about the diversifying revenue and expanding to the international market

[12:45 – 24:19] Selling Internationally on Amazon

  • Kevin shares the story when he began to start selling internationally
    • Understanding amazon and figuring out the hoops to expand to other market places
  • Kevin talks about the challenges in selling internationally
    • Conquering the fear of facing something different
    • Understanding the sales and income tax in each state
  • Recommendation for international expansion to start
    • Go to Canada first, because it operates similarly to the US
    • Start simple and add more complexity later as time goes on

[24:20 – 36:19] Expanding to Canadian Market 

  • Kevin shares about the process and application in Canada
  • Kevin talks about the benefit of expanding your market to Canada
    • More Flexibility 
    • 15% more sales just by offering it there
  • Inventory tracking
    • Start with smaller amounts of inventory 
  • Kevin talks about Listing reviews at the start 
    • Amazon pull all the reviews together with the same Ascent in UPC
  • Kevin talks about how the currency exchanges work
    • Repatriate your money with E-commerce global payments (Payoneer)
    • Keep more things in local currency

[36:20 – 47:15] Diversifying risks

  • Kevin talks about the risk and consequences of selling internationally
  • Kevin shares the story and the aftermath of some mistakes he made
    • The risk is pretty low, as long as you stay in terms of the service
  • Kevin talks about the Seller Central Portal and the Software tools
  • Lightning Round segment with Kevin
    • Favorite book
    • Hobbies – Workaholism 
    • Successful e-commerce entrepreneurs vs people who give up – Mindset
    • How to Connect with Kevin – links below

Resources Mentioned:

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Connect with Kevin on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram . or visit his website at maximizingecommerce.com to download a free checklist to learn more about international selling. 

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David 0:00
What would be your recommendation for the international expansion starter pack? For instance, where would you recommend someone try first to dip their toe into international waters?

Kevin 0:11
If they’re doing this on their own, I recommend going into Canada first. Because with Canada operates very similarly to the US. It’s our northern cousin, let’s just say anywhere between 75 and 90% of the population of Canada lives within 100 miles of the US border. So the way they think, isn’t that far off from Americans. So the things they think about buying and their culture and things like that, and the words they use to describe things is very similar to the US. And the nice thing is their sales tax operates very similarly to how sales tax operates in the US, meaning the fact it’s based on where the customer lives, and it’s added on top of the selling price.

Intro 1:01
Welcome, everyone to the firing the man podcast, a show for anyone who wants to be their own boss. Sit in a cubicle every day and know you were capable of more than join us. This show will help you build a business and grow your passive income streams in just a few short hours per day. And now your host serial entrepreneurs David Schomer and Ken Wilson.

Unknown Speaker 1:25
Welcome everyone to the firing the man podcast. Today we are joined by Kevin Sanderson. Kevin’s a full time ecommerce seller after leaving his job almost two years ago. He’s also the founder of maximizing e commerce podcast. Before Kevin went full time in e commerce he worked in a corporate space as an event planners for large companies such as Disney, one of Kevin’s many talents, and the one we brought him on to speak to you about today is selling on Amazon international marketplaces. And he has known as an expert in this space. Welcome, Kevin.

Kevin 1:57
Well, thank you for that. Very nice introduction. Appreciate that. Yeah, absolutely.

David 2:02
Welcome to the show. Kevin, can you tell us a little bit about yourself in your journey to e commerce?

Kevin 2:07
Yes, it was a nice little meandering journey. But thank you, I’m honored to be here. This is a gonna be a lot of fun. So basically, I was, as you mentioned, in the the intro there, I was working in the event space, was banquet manager at Walt Disney World. And then I left there to go to another hotel in the Orlando area. And I guess before I fired the man, the man fired me. And my position, basically, long story short, the company I was working for got bought up by a much bigger company. And my level in the organization, so to speak, did not exist in the new company. And basically, they asked me to walk the plank, so to speak. And so it was basically like I could apply for other jobs or take a severance package. And I decided to take the severance package. And I want to go work for a friend of mines Insurance Agency doing basically training and recruiting of insurance agents, and just helping them I guess, you could say from like a project management standpoint of rolling out, there’s changes in the healthcare system at the time. And so they were well positioned to take off with rocket ship growth. And so that’s basically the man I fired about two years ago, was that company that I worked for, which was actually run by a friend of mine, and still friends with him to this day, but I was watching, you know, basically, them transition from, you know, they were doing well to doing extremely well. And you know, they were going through rocketship growth. And I just got to a point one day where I was like, I’m working really hard for someone else’s dreams. And we kind of hear that concept in the entrepreneurial space. And I was watching it firsthand. You know, I’m very happy for the folks I used to work for and who I’m still friends with and their success, but it was like, I’m working really hard, while they’re able to kind of move themselves out of the day to day of stuff. And so I was like, I’m gonna, if I’m gonna work this hard, it’s going to be for my own dreams. So I decided, flipping around one day, I was looking in iTunes or Google podcasts, or I don’t know, some podcast place to find a podcast, listen to and I found the amazing seller from Scott Volker, who he’s rebranded that podcast, but the time is called amazing cellar. And at the time, he was very focused on you know, Amazon and getting started and he was on it, just laying it out. Really interestingly, I was like, Okay, I could do this. So I dabbled a little bit in retail arbitrage. And I basically got my first sale and I decided what I wanted to do was get my own brand. And so I was a high school football official at the time and I took a season’s worth of earnings as a high school football official. Put that into my first product. And then kept reinvesting into other products. And, you know, you mentioned the international part there at the beginning, and really just kind of found that between selling an Amazon in the US and selling an Amazon in other countries was my best avenue for growth.

David 5:17
So I have really been looking forward to this episode, because I currently am selling only in the US markets. And, Kevin, in a previous conversation, you had mentioned a couple of no brainers in terms of international expansion. And so for those of our listeners that are just selling in the US, why should they be thinking about international markets?

Kevin 5:41
Yeah, great question. So I think one of the biggest things is, you know, we’re always looking to grow and think about different ways of diversifying our revenue. And I think what recent history has taught us is the mindset of I’m just going to go all in on amazon.com is becoming more dangerous than it may have originally appeared. And, you know, in my kind of meandering journey, trying different things, not having sears.com respond to me when I tried to sell their, which people used to actually talk about going on sears.com, by the way, and which is crazy when you think about it, or, you know, spending all this time to get up and jet.com or, you know, going on eBay, and you know, hardly getting any sales, you know, trying all these different marketplaces and you know, you’re spending so much time figure out a new marketplace, and it doesn’t even necessarily get you the sales, but then you can go in like Amazon, Canada. And, you know, there’s no guarantees, of course, but you know, it’s not unheard of, or uncommon, and unrealistic to say, Yeah, I could get 10 15% of my us sales just by offering my products for sale in Canada. So it’s like, why not? And if your product sells in the US and similar products sell in places like Canada or the UK, you’re probably just leaving money on the table by not offering it there. And, you know, the reality is, you already understand Amazon. So really, the only grossly oversimplifying it, but the biggest difference is the money symbol is different in the other countries.

Ken 7:15
So Kevin, we’ve had a federal full time sellers on the on the podcast, and a couple questions that we always ask, you know, I’m just trying to get into the mind of a, you know, making that transition from working two jobs, essentially your business, someone else’s? How did that transition go for you? And what barriers did you have? And how did you overcome them?

Oh, good question. So I guess some of those fears I’m still working to overcome. But it’s, it was one of those things where it’s just I, I knew I had to draw a line in the sand. And so my products are very giftable. And so I remember it was getting to a point, or this was a 2018. Right before I left my job. Basically, I had negotiated with my boss to instead of working five days, it was going to work for days, and take a you know, 20% reduction, just during like the summer, because in that business, their peak season is the fall, just because that’s when people are buying health insurance. And so I kind of got the feeling that maybe that wasn’t going to be a good career move long term. And so I was like, maybe this is just an excuse to go all in, in my own business. So I really started making that mindset of Okay, how do I maximize that holiday season, as well as I could, and then I can take that money and put it into, you know, basically living expenses for you know, a certain amount of time. And, you know, I had some other projects that I was working on as well, launching, basically a service to help people expand it to international marketplaces as well as brand accelerator live, which going from listening to Scott Volkers podcasts, you and I partnering together on a live event called brand accelerator live, which was in person. That’s where Ken and I met. And it was in Fort Worth, Texas. And then the we ended up having to move at virtual but the gist of it is to you know, that was a very long answer to your short question of how do I get the fears and whatnot. And I think some of it is just keep moving forward. Because one of the things I’ve kind of learned is if your backup is up against the wall, and you really have no other choice, then you will figure it out. And, you know, I’ve come to learn whether hook or by crook or whatever the phrase is, if you put yourself out there not be reckless, like if you’re you know, if you’re just launching your first product, you know, maybe you don’t want to leave your job just yet. You’ll give it some time, let it mature a little bit but at a certain point. What is keeping someone in the job I had to ask myself that question. I was like, I can figure it out. This out. And so I’ve come to learn magically, if I’m in a position where I got to figure it out, I will.

David 10:10
Okay. In hindsight and looking at that jump off point, do you wish you would have done it sooner? Did you make it at the right time? Did you do it too early? What do you think?

Kevin 10:21
Oh, good question. And I’ve honestly kind of gone back and forth on that one. And, you know, there’s some days, I’m like, Oh, you know, maybe if I just waited a little bit longer, you know, I could pay it off a little bit more this or that, you know, ahead of time. But at the same time, too, then it’d be like, well, I wouldn’t have had as much time to do X, Y, or Z. And so I remember, and this is going back to, you know, my days with a boss. So I remember one of my corporate world, one of my former bosses, saying to me about kids, and now I have a 10 year old, so this was a long time ago. But at the time, I didn’t have kids, and he was saying, there really is never the right time to have kids. Because you’ll always have some excuse of why it’s not the right time. But when you get in the situation, you figure it out. And so, you know, if I was just looking at a spreadsheet, before I had a kid, you know, be like, Oh, that’s too expensive. We can’t you know, afford in our budget, but then magically, you figure it out, when, you know, suddenly, this bundle of joy comes out, and you got to figure it out. And you do, and you don’t look back on it. And so I think sometimes too, like with the job, it’s like, you know, maybe I could have, because there’s probably not the same emotional attachment to having a child as there is to leaving the job. But, you know, it does become a little bit part of your identity, you know, that freedom, and no one’s gonna tell me when to come to work and, you know, type of things. So, yeah, I think that was probably another long drawn out answer to your question.

Ken 11:49
I think I think that was good. And I heard something similar, you know, basically, putting your feet to the fire, you know, and you’ll make it happen, like entrepreneurs, when you’re under pressure, you make things happen. And one analogy I heard a few weeks ago was “burn the boats” Meaning, if you have an army, you’re going to go invade an island. Yet the army has an escape route, like they’re going to get on the boat and leave. Well, they might not fight as hard. If you land your army on the island, and you burn the boats. Well, you have two options. So I think when we burn the boats, we really make things happen as entrepreneur. So that’s awesome.

Kevin 12:28
Yeah, I mean, history says that worked for Cortez. I mean, that’s at least where that story supposedly is from. I don’t know if it’s 100% true. But you know, Tony Robbins likes to bring up that’s a good one.

Ken 12:39
Yeah, I heard that from Tony Robbins bit. But yeah, that’s powerful. So let’s get right into selling internationally. Kevin, so the who, what, when, where, why did you start that?

Kevin 12:52
Yeah. So I was basically at a point where, you know, I’m looking to grow, and, you know, try different things. You can go into other marketplaces, you know, not Amazon, or, you know, try my own Shopify store. But you know, it’s like, you go to another marketplace, you’re trying to figure out new terms, Terms of Service, everything is different, everything is new. And it’s a lot of time and effort to figure that out. Whereas, you know, on my own Shopify store, yeah, I don’t have all these terms of service and marketplace expectations. But I gotta bring my own traffic. And so that became a lot more difficult. And so, you know, if I understand Amazon, it’s not that much different mechanically, to go into other marketplaces, it’s just, there’s some hoops you got to jump through in the beginning. But once you figure out the hoops, it’s really not all that complicated. And so I found, it was beneficial for me. And I’ve found it to be beneficial for a lot of other folks. And I especially found it to be beneficial, during, you know, all the COVID challenges.

David 13:59
So I want to dive into those hoops that you talked about, what what are some of the challenges that someone could expect to face when entering into an international market?

Ken 14:10
Yeah, so there’s a little bit of I mean, honestly, there’s, we’ll get into the mechanics of it here in a moment, but I think it’s kind of like leaving your job, or having a kid. It’s that fear of doing it because it’s different. And so there’s this fear, I think, sometimes people have, which I think is the biggest who really have, Oh, my gosh, I go into another country, you know, the rules are gonna be different. It’s gonna mess up my taxes. You know, my accountant doesn’t know anything about the, you know, it’s gonna be too much. And the Canadian mountain police are gonna like they’re gonna come to my door and they’re gonna arrest me. Maybe the Queen of England is gonna put a bounty on my head, I’m gonna be in jail. Everyone’s gonna laugh at me. It’s gonna be the end of the world, which is 100% not going to happen. As long as you’re not putting, you know, cocaine or like nuclear bomb parts. Chances are, what you’re going to be doing, especially if it’s something you can sell on Amazon. You’re gonna be fine, especially if it’s ingestible, or some sort of medical device, product, there might be some extra hoops to jump through. But the basic hoops you have to jump through, really aren’t all that much. So the basic hoops you have to jump through are think about you got taxes, that’s kind of one of people’s biggest things. And you truly only have two buckets of taxes. Very simply, you have sales tax and income tax. And just because in most cases, Amazon’s probably taking care of everyone’s Well, this could be debatable by the tax experts. But because there’s marketplace facilitator that at least from the Amazon side, takes care of for most sales tax states. Although I’m in Florida, Florida is not a marketplace, facilitator state and I live in Florida, so there’s no way around it for me. So I file every month to the Florida Department of Revenue. So Hello, everyone, they’re in Tallahassee. So you have that, which is sales tax, which is VAT that in Europe, and it’s GST HST and Canada, for example. And then you have income tax. And the way most places work, as long as you’re using your, let’s say, US based company, you’re going to owe Uncle Sam for your taxes. And so it makes it very simple. And that part’s the easy part to figure out, there’s some registrations that you have to fill out. But if you have a driver’s license, or a passport, you know, the forms you got to fill out really, when you break it down, maybe you have to do a little research to figure out what it’s asking. But they’re really not all that much more complicated than like what you fill out to get a driver’s license or a passport. Because when you’re talking about UK and Canada, the laws, they’re not the same as they are here, but they operate similarly, because you know, it’s all based on English common law, so let’s just say the skeletons all the same. And so it’s really not all that complicated. Once you’re up and running. It’s just sometimes just the figuring it out part and the fear of, you know, what is this gonna entail? And then, you know, it’s, you know, you’re importing goods into another country, and sometimes people are like, Oh, my gosh, the importing part that’s gonna throw me off, well, you know, what, you import stuff into the US. And so it’s just, someone is taking care of customs brokerage, when you go into the US, and someone’s gonna take care of that when you go into Canada or Europe, wherever the case is. And the good news is their services to handle all this. And then going back to the tax part, especially with UK that gets really complicated. But even Canadian GST, you know, you still got to file and send the money in. And so what a lot of times people will do is they’ll go to their CPA and say, Hey, I wanted to do this, and I thought people almost in tears, because they’re like, I don’t want to change my CPA. Well, it’s like, you don’t have to your CPA is very good. Income Tax. And, you know, they probably spent their whole life like nerding out on, like, all these tax codes, and you know, how this might or might not work, and you know, how to interpret the gray areas. And it just like, you know, they probably, like, you know, if they’re at a conference, talking to other tax people, and like, they get, you know, have a few beers, like, they probably just dive into, like, you know, like, you know, section 493 a, you know, if you really look at, you know, paragraph C, you know, like, they’re really all about that. But if you ask them about Canadian GST they’re gonna say, I don’t even know what that is. And so what ends up happening is, you know, people will, you know, sometimes say, I don’t want to do this, my account doesn’t do that. Well, there’s people understand Canadian GST, if people understand UK that. And so if you were at the eye doctor, and you get a new prescription for your glasses, and if your tooth her, and you said to your eye doctor, well, can you take a look at my tooth? And they say, Well, I mean, I guess I could look, but I don’t do teeth. I can give you maybe a referral, but I don’t do teeth, you wouldn’t say oh, my gosh, I got to change doctors, because my eye doctor doesn’t do teeth. No, you’d go to the dentist. And so it’s the same thing with accountants, the other accountants and you know, they’ve gone to school for debits and credits, but they specialize in something very different. So it’s really coming down to understanding how to get stuff there, and what registrations you have to have, so that you can collect the local tax to be compliant? I mean, I’m grossly oversimplifying it, but people generally tend to grossly overcomplicate it.

David 19:31
All right, what would be your recommendation for the international expansion starter pack? For instance, where would you recommend someone try first, to dip their toe into international waters?

Kevin 19:43
Great question. And, you know, I’ve got a service where I’ve helped people with this. I’ve kind of gotten to see this from different angles and see what works. And so basically, if they’re doing this on their own, I recommend going into Canada first and this is somewhat also because this is the process I went by as well for myself, because with Canada, it’s operates very similarly to the US. And so when you go into Canada, it’s our northern cousin, let’s just say. And, you know, there’s not an exact statistic that I can find. But I’ve read anywhere between 75 and 90% of the population of Canada, lives within 100 miles of the US border. So the way they think, isn’t that far off from Americans. So the things they think about buying and their culture and things like that, in the words they use to describe things, is very similar to the US. And the nice thing is their sales tax operates very similarly to how sales tax operates in the US, meaning the fact it’s based on where the customer lives, and it’s added on top of the selling price. And so there, if you have more than 30,000 Canadian dollars in sales worldwide, so that’s pretty much anyone that’s starting there, cuz it’s about 22,000. us, you have to register for GST HST. Now, I’m not giving tax advice here. So you know, take whatever I say is more kind of to help direct whatever research you have, so that you can ask intelligent questions to someone that does do tax advice. But what I would say is, you want to register for that GST. And the nice thing there is you actually are going to get credits. And so basically, when you go into Canada, you you’re collecting on top of the selling price, and the taxes, and then you subtract out like what you pay at the border and things like that. So you get credits back, so you actually paid less than what you’re collecting. And so it makes it very simple. So basically, really what I’m getting at is it doesn’t affect your margins, so the sales tax doesn’t. Whereas when you go into the UK or the rest of Europe, now you got you’re starting to play in a different ballgame. And so, think of it this way, everything in Europe, customarily, the sales tax is included. And the sales tax is a much heftier amount, because it’s basically one sixth of your selling price. And then you have credits. Now there’s other things you could do, which they actually call them schemes there, which are basically tax methodology. So my forensic accounting friend here, probably when we use the word scheme to go with taxes probably thinks that, you know, people are going to jail. But it’s over there, it just means accounting methodology. So they have schemes that make it more simple than, you know, figuring out like money and money out type of thing for what you owe for the sales tax the VAT, but that’s definitely something to talk to a tax professional on. But it gets a little more complex, because you got to really know your margins there. Because that’s gonna have an even bigger effect on like, you know, PPC, and so you might be looking at your PPC thinking, Oh, I’m profitable, but you didn’t take into account the VAT which is included in your selling price that affects you know, your, a causes that you could be acceptable with and things like that. So, and plus the fact it’s on another side of the world. So it’s not just you could say, Oh, I’m just gonna ship some stuff from my garage up to Ontario, you know, it’s going halfway and not halfway across the world, but at least across the pond anyway, if you’re going into Europe, and then so from the UK, you can start looking at the rest of Europe, as of today, you can still sell basically, to customers and other European marketplaces from your stock in the UK, that’s most likely going to be going away at the end of the year because of Brexit and the trade arrangements are gonna be going away. But there’s still lots of opportunity in the rest of Europe that you could look at now you’re starting to get into another layer of complexity because you’ve got your translations that you got to figure out. But the way I look at it is start simple. Add more complexity later as time goes on. And then you can start looking at maybe Japan or Australia, Amazon will probably be hounding you about UAE and Singapore, because they really seem to want to get people there.

Ken 24:06
Yeah, I just got a couple emails say about Singapore. So yeah, you brought that up? Yeah. People? Yeah, UAE and Singapore, it seems like the latest two. So let’s dive a little bit more in so the process so we we filled an application, we did that. And now this is for specifically for Canada. And now do we just pull from our inventory? Do we have to ship from their suppliers in China? Do we ship in directly into Canada? Or how does that work?

Kevin 24:40
Yeah, it’s a great question. And you could do either or one of the nice things about Canada is people are willing to pay a little bit extra. So even if you ship things into the US and then you ship it up into Canada, it you know, it’s more expensive than just shipping it directly into Canada from let’s say China. You can potentially recoup a lot of that cost, because you know, for the extra shipping, because what ends up happening is, let’s say someone lives in Vancouver, Toronto, or Montreal, those are very expensive cities. Or if they don’t live in those places, they live out in the boondocks. And so you know, Canada is the second largest country landmass wise, but it’s the population of California roughly. And so it’s really spread out. So there’s a lot of people don’t live, you know, anywhere near like a big box store, they’d have to drive hours to get to a big box store, or they can just pull out their phone, and magically press a couple buttons. And two days later, a box shows up with what they want on their doorstep. So they’re willing to pay a little bit extra either way. So, and I’ve had a lot of people anecdotally explain it to me that way who’ve lived in Canada, that you can charge a little bit extra. So even though like let’s say it’s maybe one to 1.35. So every US dollar is about 1.35. Canadian dollars, you could take that ratio, and then maybe even still add a couple bucks on top of that, to recoup some of your lost margins for shipping into that country. So that makes another reason why I think Canada is good as a starter pack, for getting going. Because you have more flexibility. So if you’re the type that wants to, you know, control your inventory, then you can bring all in one place, and then you know, ship whatever makes sense. And then another kind of mindset piece I think folks got to look at is, you know, if you’re used to looking at like, you know, Jungle Scout, or helium 10, or whatever, to figure out your potential sales volume, you might look at Canada and say, Oh, well, that’s not any good. You know, it’s the numbers aren’t as high. But think about it. You might be getting, like we’re saying you might get 10 15% more sales really just by offering it there. And so compare that to eBay in you know, some people may be Walmart might be higher, some people, Walmart might be drastically less than that. But it’s definitely one of the best ways to grow, especially relative to the time that you’d invest into figuring it out. So I definitely think Canada is a great way to go.

David 27:07
So is inventory tracking managed separately? For instance, if you’re out of stock in the US doing, are they held in different spots and tracked separately?

Kevin 27:16
Great question. If you’re doing it the way I suggest Yes, and that’s basically taking inventory, ship it in into Canada, to store in their fulfillment centers, you would have separate inventory. So that does add a little bit of complexity. But you know, the way I look at it is start with smaller amounts, because you might be looking at it and saying, Okay, well, it’s not the same numbers in the US. But start with smaller amounts of inventory to like, if you’re expecting maybe 10% of the sales, start with 10% of the inventory. Or you could take if you’re ordering 1000 units, on you know, your normal order for a product, maybe take 50 to 100 of those units and ship them into Canada. You know, you don’t necessarily even have to start with, you know, ordering stuff specifically for because sometimes people will say, oh, okay, well, I want to start in Canada. But you know, if I’m ordering a container load for that product, so I have to order another container load for Canada, no, just order what you normally order and maybe start with a small amount, then as you have data, you can start to figure out with your supplier, how much you need to order between the two countries. And maybe you can get by if you’re ordering, you know, your mo Q’s, or whatever the case is. Maybe you can get by with continuing to order the same amount, you’re just ordering slightly more often. So you’re just turning your inventory over faster, which some people might say, oh, but I’m ordering inventory more faster. Well, if it’s working the way I just described, you’re also getting money back faster, too.

David 28:48
Okay, this might be a stupid question, but I don’t think I have this question I’m sure some of our listeners do. If you have a listing in the US that has, say 500 reviews, and you take that same listing and you put it in Canada, do you start over at zero reviews? Or do those reviews carry with you?

Kevin 29:06
That’s a great question. And it’s actually gotten better, as in the last few months. So as long as you’re using the same asen and UPC, which is what I would suggest doing. Your images will be consistent across all marketplaces and your reviews will carry over as well. So what used to happen is it would show your amazon.com reviews until you got local reviews. And so if you had 500 reviews and your example and then let’s say you got one local review, just say you have one review. So what ended up happening a few months ago and is actually effective. I noticed this and this is actually beneficial worldwide. I was looking at one of my products in the US and let’s say it had at 90 reviews let’s just say 90 and then I look at a couple days later and it has like 130 reviews, and I freaked out because it had been around for like Three years, I was like, How on earth is this product, it’s so many reviews, I was about ready to put in like this Mia culpa, seller support ticket, like I didn’t do anything wrong, please understand, I’m not manipulating reviews there, maybe there’s bad actors and bad faith. But then I realized all that happened was they just pulled all international reviews together. So my Canadian reviews, and my UK reviews, and my Germany reviews, all the reviews were pulling together for the, you know, by asen. So that works, going the opposite way. So when you go into Canada, all your us reviews are there. And so where it gets a little bit more challenging is, you know, if you’re in Germany, Germans want to see what Germans have to say. So you know, but still having 500 reviews, even if it’s not in the local language is better than nothing, you know? So that’s a great question. And no, you don’t start over from scratch. And I think there’s also because there’s a little bit of sales history, Amazon’s favorable to that product as well.

David 30:58
For your nice, that is not the answer, I expected, I thought you probably would have had to start over at zero. And I am pleased to hear that. Because it stinks starting over. You know, once you’ve worked so hard to get good reviews over several years. Yes. So well, that’s good to know.

Kevin 31:16
Yeah. And now all of a sudden, you know, if you’re getting 10 20%, more sales, you know, between a couple marketplaces, you could be looking at maybe 1020 30% more reviews I’ve come to find in some other countries, they’re more likely to leave reviews, like I had, personally, this is more anecdotal. I don’t have data, like exact numbers to back it up. But I just have, and this is probably more, I noticed this from before, like Amazon pulled the reviews together, it would always seem like, relative to an amount of sales, I had more reviews in Canada than I did in the US. And maybe it’s just because you know, Canadians are just nice people. Like, we’re mean in the US, you know?

David 32:01
Yeah, I would agree with that. I would agree with that. I’ve never met a Canadian I didn’t like,

Kevin 32:06
Oh, yeah, they’re super nice. And sometimes people like, you know, you make these, you know, statements stereotypical about, you know, Canadians being nice. They never come up to me and say anything other than thank you for recognizing the fact they’re nice. So they take a lot of pride in it.

Ken 32:20
Yeah, Kevin, one other thing that kind of comes to mind is the currency exchanges. So how does that work? Let’s say you, you ordered your you know, your container of 1000. You shipped in 100. to Canada, you sold them. Now, does Amazon pays Canadian dollars? So they pay us dollars? How does that work?

Kevin 32:41
Great question. So what you could do is you can just take your let’s say Bank of America account, put it in Seller Central under when you switch from Amazon us to Amazon, Canada. And then what will happen is, Amazon will say, you know what, we’ll just conveniently give you US dollars. And so that sounds great, right? So this is a mistake I made for years was if you go on Google and you look up USD to see it. So what is the conversion rate for US dollars to Canadian dollars. And you say to yourself, okay, it’s like one to 1.35 or whatever the case is. So let’s just use relatively simple math because it works for me. So let’s just say hypothetically, whatever your disbursement was, should have been $1,000, when you went to look online, now, Amazon would actually be putting in around $960 into your account, because Bank of America does not take Canadian dollars. And same thing with you know, doesn’t matter if it’s Wells Fargo or whoever, you know, your US bank can only take us dollars. So Amazon will conveniently convert it into, you know, from Canadian dollars to US dollars or whatever currency they’re sending it from the local marketplace, because that’s very astute to point out is that your sales and your fulfillment fees and your PPC and all your costs are in that local currency. And so when you repatriate your money to the US, you are going to pay something and so Amazon’s gonna charge your portion for that. However, there are services, let’s say, I use Payoneer, there’s ping pong payments. I think helium 10 has something they’re starting to try out, but I’ll use Payoneer because I know like and trust them. Basically, they’ll give you the version of in Canada, it’s not routing an account, it’s something else, whatever their account number structure is for banking, they will give you that Amazon. When you put that into your seller central account, Amazon will take your Canadian dollars for your disbursement and give you Canadian dollars into your Payoneer account. And then when it is time to repatriate your money. Basically Payoneer is only gonna charge you 2%. So instead Have an example where you’re expecting $1,000 you get whatever the Canadian dollar equivalent is, let’s say 1300 and $50. And instead of getting, you know, the thousand looking at basically the rate banks charge each other, you’re gonna get 980 so that you’re saving about $20 there. Now, you might be thinking, that’s not a big deal. Well multiply that times 26. So that’s 26, you know, dispersement periods a year. So that’s 520 bucks. And what if you’re, you know, for marketplaces where they’re all similar to that. So now all of a sudden, you know, that’s a couple grand a year you just save by doing this, and it can get even better. Because when you go into Europe, you have to pay for that. And that is a pretty big percentage of your, you know, disbursement, well, not a big percentage, but it’s it’s sizable enough that what I’m about to describe as beneficial. So basically, Payoneer will let you take your British pound, so you know, Amazon, as long as you connect it together, they’ll put your British pounds in this British Pound account. And then when you go to pay HMRC, Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs, their IRS, basically, you’re going to pay from your Payoneer account from with British pounds, and the price of the British government and British pounds. And you lost nothing because it all stayed in the same currency. And so there’s a few other tricks you can do like that to keep more things in the local currency, so that you save money so that you know that 2% fee is not your total sales. It’s just whatever you’re finally bringing back to the States. And so you’re trying to lessen the amount you’re trying to bring back to the States.

Ken 36:44
Nice and pro level tips there for different exchanges. If you’re listening.

David 36:49
For sure, definitely. One thing that gives me pause about entering into a new marketplace is what if I mess something up and get my account suspended? In when we talk about diversifying, right, we’re diversifying risk. And so right now I’ve got a pretty solid us sales channel, say I were to go into Canada and accidentally break the terms of service and get that account suspended. does that translate over into the US?

Kevin 37:16
There’s always going to be exceptions, generally No. And I’ll give an example here. So when I got a call from Amazon, hey, you should try out Japan, it’s gonna be great. Okay, so I go to Amazon dot, whatever for Japan, and like Seller Central, they had me register. And the screen to register is all in Japanese. So I use Google translate to translate everything. And so you know, it translated everything, you know, Chrome translate everything in the screen, except the drop down for country. And so I looked up, what is the United States? What’s the United States of America, what’s you know, whatever, you know, to try to figure out what that looked like with, you know, the Japanese lettering? I kind of thought I had it, but I wasn’t sure. So I sent a screenshot to my rapid Amazon and said, Juno, which it is, because I can’t figure this out. He goes, just pick one. And we’ll change it later. So I did exactly what he said, What did I pick Azerbaijan? What is Azerbaijan, it’s on the no fly list. So my account got suspended immediately, because I indicated to them, I was from Azerbaijan. And so it took, you would think if you had a rep for Amazon, going into Japan, this would be something that they could just flip off. But it took a couple weeks, did have any bearing on my us account, nope. Didn’t make a difference. And to use another example, there was a time Amazon loosened up on this a little bit, but there was about a year, whereas Amazon, whenever someone would go into Europe to set up an account, there was this verification process you had to go through. And so it used to have been before that they would just come to you later on, say, okay, in order to keep running, you need to provide this documentation, then they started maybe people weren’t really paying attention to it. So then what they started doing is, we’re not even gonna let you start until you give us this documentation, and we prove it. So what ended up happening was they were you set up your account, put in your credit cards and everything you say, Okay, my, here’s my European account, I’ve got this all set up, enter, okay, your accounts been suspended until you provide the documentation and then they would not suspend your us account. So also, if this makes you feel better at the product level, generally speaking, when Amazon takes down a listing, it’s also at the marketplace level two, so by country and so even if it’s, you know, we’ve seen some of the things like potentially hazardous or this is probably going to bring up you know, bad feelings for some people, the pesticide thing, you know, or like something happens and Amazon, you know, shuts down amount of listings, it generally isn’t going to be in every country because Amazon tends to be in those situations very reactive. And even if it’s driven by customer feedback, it tends to be like, you know, too many ncix orders, or whatever they call it, that tends to also be marketplace specific. And I’ve had it happen to me, we’re listening was taken down in the US, but I’m still making sales elsewhere. And so it’s not a foolproof way of saying that you are diversifying and you’re protected. But I would say the risk is pretty low. As long as you’re, you know, playing within Terms of Service, it seems like people are some people are getting a little bit farther and farther on the gray side of things. As long as you’re not getting too far into the gray side of things, you’re probably going to be okay, as long as you’re working in the spirit of doing the right thing for Amazon and the customer. And whatever rules you’re supposed to abide by, you’re probably going to be alright. And all marketplaces I think.

Ken 41:05
Nice. Now, Kevin, I am a an admitted software junkie. I like I like shiny objects. And so in terms of software, so let’s say you’re you’re selling in the US, you need any new software, can you do everything from the seller central portal? Or can you walk me through that?

Kevin 41:27
Yeah, so when you set up Seller Central portal, basically, you know, if you go to sell globally, you know, you can set up your account for Europe, North America is all together. So you probably already have Mexico and Canada and your account now. And you can link it all together so that when you click the little drop down to change countries, everything is all there as long as you’ve linked to your accounts, which is what I would suggest everyone do. And then as far as like software tools, most software tools will work throughout North America and Europe. Seems like I don’t know why. But I don’t know of anything that works in Japan, and Australia. So like really like the Pacific is not in the same realm as North America and Europe. But the nice thing too, is like if you do decide to go in Japan for whatever, you know, reason it makes sense for your product. You’re flying blind just as much as everyone else with the software tools.

Ken 42:21
Yeah, that makes sense. And, and probably, you know, the newer marketplaces might take a lot longer for the tools to catch up or make it benefit,

Kevin 42:29
right. Although here’s an interesting factoid. I was talking to somebody about Amazon, Japan, this is someone who, like he has a whole service for helping people, Amazon, Japan. He said Japan has actually been around since 1999. It was like, really, I hadn’t even heard of Amazon until 1999, let alone that they had a Japanese marketplace already. Which is interesting. So total side note.

Ken 42:53
Yeah, I was looking at some stats last week on the different Amazon marketplaces that had the most share. And I was surprised to see Japan as high up on the list as as a Yeah, as it was. I can’t remember exactly the position, but it was pretty high up in there. Mm hmm.

David 43:12
All right, Kevin, welcome to the lightning round. These are questions that we ask each guest at the end of the podcast. First question, what is your favorite book?

Kevin 43:22
I think one of the ones is probably the most impactful has been compound effect by Darren Hardy.

David 43:29
All right. I that’s one I haven’t heard of Ken, have you read that one?

Ken 43:33
I have. It’s been a while but yeah,

David 43:35
good one. All right. Yeah. All right. Very nice. Number two, what are your hobbies?

Kevin 43:43
Uh, workaholism, for one? And? Yeah, sometimes I just enjoy, you know, going for a jog probably, as much as I’ve probably should have been doing more physical exercise, and not letting COVID being an excuse to probably let it to be too much of an excuse not to let that one slip. But I’d say it used to be jogging was more of a hobby. Thank you for encouraging me to get back into it. Now that I say that out loud.

David 44:12
You can do it. Kevin, we believe in you.

Ken 44:15
Thank you. Thank you.

David 44:16
All right. And the last one, what do you think sets apart successful e commerce entrepreneurs from those who give up fail or never get started?

Kevin 44:27
Great question. I think a lot of it just comes down to what is the mindset. And so it’s very easy to allow setbacks to get in your way. And I think the more you say to yourself, I’m just going to figure it out, the more likely you will actually just figure it out. And so I think, you know, just, if you’re listening to this, and you’re saying, you know, I want to you know, take things to the next level, then do it. No one is stopping you except for yourself.

David 44:58
Very nice. Very nice. Now where can people get ahold of you?

Kevin 45:02
Yeah, great question. So, um, I do have a podcast and YouTube channel called maximizing e commerce, I can, you know, check me out there. And if they want to learn more about international selling, they could go to maximizing e commerce.com. forward slash man ma N as in Firing the man podcast. And they can download a free checklist, which will walk them through a lot of these steps, which are kind of hard to do, you know, in the podcast format, but this will be a little bit more, you know, going step by step. You know, it’s basically distilled. I do it. Like I mentioned earlier, I have a service where I help people with this. So basically put it into a checklist format, you know, at least the skeleton of what all you need to do.

David 45:45
Very nice. And if someone’s interested in hiring you to help them go international. Do they reach you at maximizing e commerce?

Ken 45:52
Yeah, they could go on the contact page, or I don’t mind to give out my email address, Kevin@maximizingecommerce.com they can email me and I can see what I could do to help them out and see if it makes sense for them. And if so, go from there.

David 46:06
Awesome. Awesome. Well, thank you so much for being on this episode of the firing the man podcast. And I look forward to talking to you again.

Kevin 46:15
Awesome. Same here.

Ken 46:16
Yeah, appeciate it Kevin.

David 46:18
Thank you everyone for tuning in to today’s Firing The Man Podcast. If you like this episode, head on over to www.firingtheman.com And check out our resource library for exclusive firing demand discounts on popular e commerce subscription services that is www.firingtheman.com/resource. You can also find a comprehensive library of over 50 books books that Ken and I have read in the last few years that have made a meaningful impact on our business, or that head on over to www.firingtheman.com/library. Lastly, check us out on social media at Firing The Man on YouTube at Firing The Man for exclusive content. This is David Schomer and Ken Wilson. We’re out

Transcribed by https://otter.ai