What is the Amazon North American Remote Fulfillment (NARF) program?

Margaret Nguyen3 minutes
What is the Amazon North American Remote Fulfillment (NARF) program?
In this article

The Amazon North American Remote Fulfillment (NARF) program is an ideal way for Amazon eCommerce sellers based in North America to save money and reach more customers. NARF helps businesses experiment with global expansion without having to go beyond their existing operations. 

Here, we’ll look at what exactly NARF is and why you should use it, skip it, or choose another option for your growing US eCommerce business. 

What is NARF?

NARF is an Amazon program that allows its sellers to display their inventory on Canada’s and Mexico’s Amazon websites — Amazon.ca and Amazon.com.mx. This inventory falls under US Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA), which essentially means anything you sell on the US Amazon marketplace will also display on the Canadian and Mexican sites without any extra work. 

So, if you have 100 units available for sale in the US, those same 100 units are also automatically available for customers shopping on both the .ca and .mx sites. 

Amazon makes this possible by using a single global SKU code for your product. This makes it a lot easier for you as a seller because you’ll have to create only one listing for your product. 

Additionally, you can store your products in Amazon’s fulfillment centers in Canada and Mexico as a US Amazon seller (and vice versa). Once your inventory is sold, Amazon will handle the picking, packing, and shipping of your products. It’ll provide customer service, too. 

To enroll in NARF, you need to have an Amazon Seller Central account. The article below will give you a step-by-step guide on how to set up an account if you haven’t already.

[Related: How to save money when collecting funds from your foreign Amazon account]

Why use NARF?

NARF is great for US-, Canada-, and Mexico-based eCommerce sellers because it allows them to quickly fulfill all their North American orders and scale their business

It’s also a great way to become international without the hurdle of going overseas. Businesses can reach more customers and get products to them quickly because they’re geographically closer.

Here are some other benefits of NARF.

Risk-free market testing

Let’s say your business wants to try out a product in Canada to see whether customers there like it as much as your US customers do. You’d have to set up a new listing and UPC, figure out shipping and customs, deal with sales tax regulations, and take on much more. 

NARF allows you to avoid these hassles and try out products in different countries with little risk. You can simply add whatever product you want to test to each marketplace and wait to see how it does. 

Zero additional costs for storing FBA inventory

You also won’t have to pay additional FBA inventory storage costs. If you’re based in the US and signed up for NARF, every sale you make in either Mexico (.mx) or Canada (.ca) will ship from your US inventory, which you’re already paying storage costs for. 

No need to worry about local tax regulations

Businesses typically have to pay taxes specific to the country that they’re importing into. 

This gets tricky because sales tax laws are often intricate and vary significantly by country. You either need to do immense research to make sure you get it right or hire someone to figure it out for you, which can be pricey. 

For example, Canada has a 5% goods and services tax (GST) added to purchases. However, some Canadian provinces combine their GST with the provincial sales tax, which creates a harmonized sales tax (HST). Each province has varying HSTs.

But you don’t have to worry about any of this if your business is part of the NARF program. It’s meant to make sales among North American countries easier, not harder. 

[Related: Complete guide: The consumer goods expansion accounting checklist]

Why skip NARF?

NARF is a great way to get ahead as a US business looking to go international, but it’s not always necessary. Here are some reasons why.

You already sell on Amazon marketplaces in Mexico and Canada 

If you already sell your inventory on .ca and .mx, you don’t really need NARF. And even if you think signing up might be worth it, that may  not be the case. 

Let’s say one of your products is selling incredibly well in Mexico and you don’t use NARF — leave it alone! 

Signing up for NARF when your products are already doing well abroad can sometimes cause unexpected drops in revenue for unknown reasons. As the saying goes, “Don’t leave a good time looking for a better time.”  In other words, don’t use NARF if you’re already selling a lot in Amazon marketplaces in either Mexico or Canada.

You need to stay on top of exchange rates

Although your US inventory listings appear on .ca and .mx (the descriptions, number of units available, and more), you still need to modify the prices. 

Customers buy in their local currency, so you’ll have to constantly monitor exchange rates to make sure you aren’t eating into your profit. This is often tedious and time-consuming work.

However, signing up for Global Business Accounts with Airwallex will help you maneuver through conversion rates. We offer borderless foreign currency accounts in Canada, which will help you earn and spend in CAD without converting back to USD. It's the easiest way for you to grow your business in Canada without seeing any dents in your profit margins. 

“While NARF is a good way to begin your Canada selling journey, many sellers who successfully sell in Canada find their sales to increase significantly by housing inventory within Canada itself. This, in large part, is usually due to the difference in delivery timelines between NARF products held in the US and products warehoused in Canada. It requires extra red tape, but the results could be more successful for the sellers willing to go that extra mile.”

-Chelsea Cohen, SoStocked

[Related: How to calculate and improve ROI in easy steps]

Making the best decision for your business

You can sell and succeed in the Canadian and Mexican Amazon marketplaces without signing up for NARF. 

However, here are some NARF resources if you choose to use the program:

Also keep in mind that even if you do choose to use NARF, you don’t have to let Amazon handle everything for your business. In fact, it can be wise to diversify:

"Amazon's terms of service are constantly evolving — it's difficult to know what will come next. We saw this with the IPI issues that started springing up a couple of years back. The best way to mitigate the risks when moving to a new marketplace is to diversify your business in as many ways as you can, including your logistics channels. There's no need to put all of your eggs in one basket by signing up for NARF and leaving Amazon to take care of everything for you — it's your business, not theirs. You can still do it if it's right for your business and your products, but you should look for solutions that you can operate in conjunction with Amazon's fulfillment channels."

-John Cavendish, CEO, Seller Candy

[Related: Which eCommerce marketplaces take the least margin from US sellers?]

Contact Airwallex to help manage your international finances

Switching to an online business account will help your eCommerce business thrive without paying too much to be global

If you’re interested in creating a CAD Global Business Account with Airwallex, sign up for free today.

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Margaret Nguyen

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