Don't Make These Mistakes When Expanding Your Amazon Business Internationally

Author: Guest Contributor6 minutes
E-commerceBusiness tips
Don't Make These Mistakes When Expanding Your Amazon Business Internationally
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Are you ready to expand your Amazon business into new markets? Good for you; it’s a wise decision. Keeping all your eggs in one basket doesn’t protect you against market fluctuations and increased competition. On the other hand, expanding opens you up to new marketplaces, new customers, and it will open up your revenue stream. Expansion is an exciting venture, but it's crucial to avoid the common mistakes that many people make when venturing into new territories.

Here are some of the most common mistakes sellers make when expanding their Amazon businesses internationally, and tips to help you avoid those mistakes.

Choosing the Wrong Translator

You won’t have a tough time looking for a skilled translator; there are many out there, and just as accessible as a quick Fiverr search. However, not all translators will spell success for you. Some translators are better experienced in legal documents, financial documents, or medical documents. They won’t be too successful trying to translate an Amazon listing. If, on the other hand, you need your vacuum cleaner instruction manual translated into a new language, by all means, get a translator online. Just the same, Amazon listings are a little more complex.

Find a translator who’s fluent in the language you're targeting and familiar with Amazon's style and format. Plus, a skilled copywriter will write compelling product listings that attract customers. It’s a triumvirate: (1) a native speaker, who’s (2) also a copywriter, and (3) who understands conversion on Amazon.

Failing to Localize Your Listings

The reason it’s crucial to find that triumvirate is because you’re not translating your listings word for word. You can do that with straightforward technical documents, where the smallest misstep can spell gross misunderstanding and errors, but Amazon listings need a little more flair.

Adapting your product listings to the local language, culture, and preferences of your target market is crucial. Failing to localize your listings can result in confusion, negative customer experiences, and lost sales. That’s why it’s advisable to get a native speaker to handle your translation; they’ll transpose idioms and metaphors to the correct terms in the source language so they make sense to your target market.

Take for example, “cat got your tongue.” English speakers understand that this phrase means someone is at a loss for words. In German, the closest equivalent is “Hast du die Sprache verloren?” which translates to “Have you lost the ability to speak?” Imagine asking your tongue-tied friend if they’ve lost the ability to speak!

Ignoring the Potential of Emerging Markets

It's easy to focus on established markets and overlook emerging ones when expanding your Amazon business internationally. Many sellers on the US marketplace choose the UK marketplace because it’s also in English. Although the UK marketplace is robust, many sellers overlook the German marketplace, which is the 2nd biggest Amazon marketplace after the US. It’s a “5 star marketplace” – it services countries that don’t have Amazon in addition to Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. You get access to all the customers from neighboring countries that don’t have an Amazon marketplace to call their own. Research and understand the potential of new markets, and avoid missing out on potential revenue streams.

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Using Emotive Marketing Language

People buy in different ways. They like being sold to in different ways. It stands to reason then that different cultures have varying attitudes towards marketing language. Research first! Check the competitors, and get to know the customers really well. Understand your target audience's attitudes towards marketing language and tailor your listings accordingly. Americans like emotive marketing language where you tell them that your product is the absolute best. The average American customer prefers to be sold to, using hyperbole and superlatives. Many Europeans are the opposite. They prefer to make their own decisions about the product’s stellar qualities, so it’s best to stick to the facts with a European market, and play up quality, design, sturdiness, etc. If you don’t know who you’re selling to, your product won’t sell, because it’s addressing the wrong audience altogether.

Failing to Understand Your Market

The previous point leads straight into this one. You absolutely must conduct thorough research before expanding. Careful and thorough understanding of your target market is essential when expanding your business internationally. Conduct market research, understand local regulations, and avoid costly mistakes to maximize your chances of success. Different cultures have varying attitudes towards language, tone, and humor. Ensure you choose the right tone and language to communicate effectively with your target audience.

Also, know who your top competitors are in a marketplace. Have you heard of Mr. Beast? The popular YouTuber, philanthropist, and entrepreneur has skyrocketed to success, even competing head to head with other popular burger joints that have way more budget and history than he does. His success story is one for the books, but in a nutshell, Jimmy Donaldson’s success can be attributed to a keen understanding of the market, what makes customers tick, where he can improve on his competitors’ experience, and how he can differentiate himself in a saturated category.

If a 24-year-old YouTuber can do it, so can you.

Forgetting to Localize Your Website and Social Media

Meet the customer where they may be. Expanding to a new country often means looking for new customers. Go to them; don’t expect them to come to you. Find them where they’re hanging out online, engage with them, like the same things they like. Many sellers make the mistake of localizing their Amazon listings beautifully – but forgetting their external marketing altogether.

Even if your Amazon SEO is perfectly optimized, you’re only targeting half of your potential. What about the customers out there in your new culture that don’t know you exist? This is where localizing your external marketing comes in handy. Moreso if it’s run by natives in that new culture, because they’d understand the market better. Look at Samsung; the Korean electronics brand is doing so well in France, because the team taking care of it is French. There are only a handful of Koreans in the French office. This way, the brand communicates with its French audience seamlessly and fluently.

Failing to Do Your Due Diligence

Many sellers jump enthusiastically into expansion - which is the right attitude to have. But don’t let your excitement cloud your judgment. Thorough due diligence is required when expanding your Amazon business internationally. We go into depth in this article.

Which market should you expand to? Who is your new target market? Have you done your homework yet, and are you assured that your new target market is eager to buy your product? Check first before you start shelling out the money!

Assuming Localization is Expensive

Many sellers assume that localization is expensive. Yet, they’re aware that by localizing your product listings, website, and social media channels, you can increase your chances of success and boost your revenue. Perhaps because localization is so beneficial, people assume its value and its price must be commensurate, but the truth is, localizing your listing is often cheaper than product photography! You’d localize once per market, and that’s it. It’s a one-off service that yields incredible results in no time at all.

Not Doing Keyword Research Per Marketplace

One seller expanded from to She was selling baby diapers. So, she copy-pasted her US keywords to her UK account. To her shock and dismay, she ranked for a different product altogether - because “diapers” in the UK refers to adult diapers! “Nappies” would have been the correct keyword for the UK market.

Expanding from Spain to Mexico? It’s the same deal. New keyword research is required. Don’t use machine translations, either. This is why it’s so crucial to employ native speakers to localize content. Translate “tap” into Italian using Google Translate. You’ll get “rubinetto.” That’s not the word that Italians use to describe a faucet; likely, your ideal results will come up past page 3 of results. Fresh keyword research should be done per market, by someone who understands the local dialect.

In conclusion, expanding your Amazon business internationally can be a lucrative venture, but it requires careful planning and preparation. Avoiding these common mistakes can help you increase your chances of success and maximize your revenue. It’s best to get a partner who understands the ins and outs of localization and Amazon expansion; your chances of success are higher, and more immediate, too!

Good luck; expansion and diversification are a brilliant business decision. Just make sure you don’t sully your efforts with inadequate research. Congratulations on your worldwide expansion!

Guest Contributor: Jana Krekic is the founder and CEO of YLT Translations, the largest Amazon-centric localization firm in the space today. An international public speaker, polyglot and a translator herself, she has considerable knowledge and experience in e-Commerce and Amazon, which she has—and continues to—leverage on to help 7- to 9-figure businesses expand on a global scale.

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