How to sell on Amazon US from Hong Kong
Amazon is the largest eCommerce marketplace in the United States, with almost 3x the monthly traffic as the next largest eCommerce marketplace, eBay.
As a Hong Kong business, you might be wondering how to sell on Amazon US from Hong Kong. While that market can feel out of reach, selling on Amazon US from outside is not uncommon. Amazon US actually accepts sellers from over 102 countries around the world, including Hong Kong.
There are a number of steps you can take that allow you to set up an Amazon US store, despite not actually being based there.
The benefit of selling on Amazon US
Amazon’s largest selling region is North America, so the benefit of breaking into the US market is the huge population you can reach. The North American market is almost 20x the size of the Hong Kong market, so selling there gives your business exposure to a much larger customer base, which can help your business grow exponentially.
Here’s how to sell on Amazon US from Hong Kong
There is some basic information that you’ll need to gather first, prior to selling on Amazon US.
Provide a credit or debit card
Any standard credit or debit card that can handle international payments will suffice for this. If you are looking for a card that has no international transaction fees, you may want to check our our Airwallex Borderless Card.
Provide a US phone number
Generating a Skype US phone number can work for this step. However, a quick Google search will deliver a number of services that get you a US phone number, despite being located internationally.
Set up a US bank account
To sell on Amazon US, you will need a US bank account with US bank details (ie not a multi-currency account that you get with the big banks). The good news is that Airwallex also allows businesses to set up local US bank accounts without having to go to the US. Simply sign up to Airwallex, get approved and you can set up a Foreign Currency Account for the country you need—in this case, the US. — You’ll be furnished with your brand new bank account number, ready to be used directly in the US of A. It uses a legitimate US bank account number, so it’s just like you were based there.
Now that you’ve got the necessary information in place, it’s time to set up your Amazon store.
Choose the right Amazon US Seller Plan and fulfilment method for your business
There are two major decisions you will make that will impact the fees involved, and ultimately whether your Amazon US venture will be profitable.
Individual or Professional Selling Plan
Individual plans are charged on a per item sold basis of USD$0.99 per item sold, perfect if you’re selling less than 40 units a month and want to minimise your upfront investment.
Professional plans are charged on a monthly basis of USD$39.99 per month. This also provides advanced features such as advertising, reporting, custom shipping fees and more.
With both plans, there is an additional category referral fee charged on each item sold. This ranges between 8% to 17% for major categories such as clothing, accessories, beauty and electronic accessories.
Fulfilment by Seller or Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA)
Fulfilment by the seller is where you would be responsible for the end-to-end shipping, fulfilment, customer service and returns process for your US-based customers. To ensure you have a complete view of the costs associated with
If you already have a storage, fulfilment and shipping system - owning your own fulfilment could provide a better experience for your customer without sacrificing margins.
Fulfilment by Amazon (FBA) simplifies selling and shipping to the US
Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) is included in both Individual and Professional Amazon US plans, with no additional ongoing charge. Your products will become eligible for Amazon Prime’s free shipping or free Two-Day shipping, which taps into the sizable 112 million Amazon US Prime members.
FBA’s fees work as a scalable ‘pay as you go’ model, where you only pay for the inventory storage space, orders and returns that Amazon fulfils (with no minimum shipment quantities needed). Even the cost of last-mile shipping from Amazon’s fulfilment center to your customer is included.
FBA works by having your products shipped to an Amazon FBA warehouse in the US. Amazon then handles the rest of the storage, fulfillment, shipping, customer service and returns process for you. This makes it simple for a seller of any size to start selling to the Amazon US today.
Amazon US FBA fees
There are three major types of fees with Amazon FBA:
Based on the dimension, weight and category of your product, standard size products can range from USD$2.50 to USD$5.80. Large oversize products like a monitor could cost up to USD$75 per unit in fulfilment fees.
Monthly inventory storage fee
The monthly fee is based on your daily average volume of your inventory and the space it occupies in Amazon’s fulfilment center. This can range from USD$0.48 to USD$3.63 per cubic foot, depending on the time of year (October - December is 3 - 4x more expensive), size of item and whether it is a dangerous good.
Returns processing fee
This fee only applies on customer returns on products categories where Amazon offers free returns shipping. This includes apparel, watches, jewelry, luggage, shoes, handbags and sunglasses.
The fee calculation is simple as it’s exactly the total fulfilment fee for that given product. If you paid USD$3.14 in fulfilment fees, you would pay USD$3.14 in returns processing fees.
Amazon US Fee & Profit Margin Calculator: Understand your profit potential
One of the most overlooked fees is also the international transaction and currency conversion fees charged when you bring your USD profits back home to HKD. With the major Hong Kong banks, this takes off an additional 3 - 5% from what will actually land in your Hong Kong bank account.
Bring home more of your Amazon US profits with Airwallex’s global business account. Get an Amazon-compatible US business account with no ongoing fees or minimum balance. Pay 90% less in FX fees when converting your USD into HKD, and access your HKD funds in an instant to free up cash flow and re-invest it back into growth.
Find out exactly what your take-home profit on Amazon US could be, and weigh up the trade-offs of FBA versus Seller with our Amazon US Fee & Profit Margin Calculator. Click the purple button at the bottom of your screen to download your free copy.
Setting up your Amazon US account
Now that you understand your potential profit from selling on Amazon US, here are the steps to get your product up and running.
Create an Amazon listing
Creating your Amazon listing makes things real. It provides you with a shipping destination and an FBA warehouse where you’ll be sending your product.
Choose a customs broker
A licensed customs broker enables you to import your product to America and will be instrumental in guiding you through the process of getting your product through customs. They take care of all your product’s entry paperwork, taxes, and documentation, to ensure your product actually makes it into the country.
If you prefer, you can choose to ship your product by air, through companies like FedEx, DHL, or UPS. These companies include customs brokerage as part of their service.
Import, QA, and storage
From here it’s a matter of importing and storing your products.
Importing your products
This requires you to find a freight forwarding partner who you can trust and rely on. They handle customs, they organise your freight forwarding, and they even store your inventory. So it pays to do some research, and find one with a strong reputation. Again, a simple Google search will be able to give you an idea of where to start.
If you’re selling on Amazon US from Hong Kong, this makes it a bit trickier to be involved in the day-to-day operations of your business. But there are a few things you can do that ensure you’re getting the best product shipped to the US.
Check your samples
You can’t be there in person to check the samples from your supplier, so it pays to have them ship a selection of samples directly to you. This allows you to check the products in person, which provides a much more reliable source than photos.
Need help working out your break-even point? Check out our break-even analysis tool to download your free copy.
Undertake quality assurance
Again, selling on amazon US from Hong Kong makes this one a bit more difficult, but it can be done. We recommend looking into the services of a Quality Assurance company. Again, a quick google search will supply you with some options of companies whose sole purpose is to provide QA services to sellers like you.
Fulfilment preparation centres ensure that your products are packed and prepared for shipment in accordance with Amazon’s standards. If your products don’t meet their standards, you can face fines, or even have your product rejected. This is a necessary step to giving your product the best opportunity to be delivered within the US.
Amazon offers storage for suppliers, but only up to a certain size limit. If you’re selling large or oversized items, you may want to look into a third party storage supplier.
Sell on Amazon US with an Airwallex account
By now you should have a good idea of how to sell on Amazon US from Hong Kong. Airwallex is the perfect business account for this. You can set up a US bank account with ease (no monthly fees) and open debit cards with no international transaction fees, perfect for paying Amazon US listing fees.
If you’re looking to expand your business into the US, get in touch with Airwallex today.
Related article: The best payment gateways in Hong Kong for international eCommerce
Joe Romeo is responsible for scaling our Airwallex's product adoption in the UK and the world. An all-around growth enthusiast, Joe's speciality lies in SEO, organic acquisition and making lasagna.
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