Can You Sell on Amazon USA from Africa?

Can You Sell on Amazon USA from Africa?

It feels like only yesterday Germany, the US, and the UK were to only countries that had access to Amazon's fast and flexible shipping solutions. Now, the e-commerce and tech giant operates in twenty countries, allowing merchants outside Europe and North America to sell on Amazon, particularly on Amazon USA.   


Does this include Africa? 


YES, Africa-based merchants can now sell on Amazon USA. How? This article will cover that. We'll guide you through creating an Amazon seller account, selecting a shipping method, setting prices for your products, and achieving profitability.


Why focus on Amazon USA? 


The USA has the biggest consumer market in the world. Of 310 million Amazon users, 230 million are in the USA, and 167 million are Prime users. In short, it's where the money is, so that's where you should focus your efforts.


But this isn't to say you can't sell on other marketplaces within Amazon. You are free to do that depending on your products and business goals. That's how flexible Amazon is, and capitalizing on this flexibility could potentially catapult your business to the top 10%.


What does being able to sell from Africa to Amazon USA mean?


You can sell on Amazon USA from any of the 55 countries in Africa. Amazon will give you access to the same opportunities other international sellers enjoy. You can create an Amazon seller account, list products, and ship to your American customers through Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA).


How you will ship your products from Africa to the US and have your payment disbursed to your local bank account is another story. Amazon has yet to forge a more efficient solution for that.


How to Sell on Amazon USA from Africa


Let's get down to business. If you are an entrepreneur in Africa and want to sell products on Amazon USA, here's a simple guide to help you get started.  


Step 1: Create an Amazon Seller account.


To begin, create an Amazon Seller account separate from your business account. You can do it here. Click "Sign Up" and type in your preferred login details. Follow the verification instructions and submit the necessary documents Amazon will request.


If Amazon requires additional information to verify your account, they will contact you to discuss the next steps. After your account is verified, you can begin selling and earning profits.


Step 2: Choose a selling method.


Before starting an Amazon business, consider what products you intend to sell and how to source them. Will you manufacture your goods? Are you planning to white-label someone else's products? Or perhaps you're drop-shipping for another retailer.


There are four ways to sell products on Amazon USA:


  1. Private Label: With this approach, you take charge of manufacturing, listing, and promoting your products on Amazon USA. You also choose how to fulfill each order. And since you're in Africa, your main options are using Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) or a third-party logistics (3PL) provider. You might need to employ both, utilizing 3PL for shipping to an Amazon fulfillment center in the US and FBA for shipping to your customers.


  1. 1P Selling: You sell your products to Amazon at a wholesale price instead of directly to customers. Amazon handles sales, sets prices, and manages order processing and customer support. This approach is popular among sellers as it takes the hard work off selling on Amazon.


  1. Dropshipping: Did you know you can sell on Amazon USA without handling inventory? All you need to do is partner with suppliers who are willing to fulfill orders for you. They benefit from your reach, and you get a cut from every sale. 


  1. Arbitrage: This method, favored by many online sellers, involves buying undervalued items from platforms like eBay, Etsy, or Baidu and reselling them on Amazon for a profit. Utilizing Amazon's multi-channel fulfillment lets you ship purchased products directly to an Amazon warehouse through FBA instead of your address or a private warehouse.


If you're in Africa, private label and 1P selling might not be the best choices unless you aim to bring genuine products to the US market. Your better options would be dropshipping or arbitrage. But if you're committed to selling products you make, you can set a price that covers all costs and ensures a profit. Setting a high price, however, would impact traffic to your inventory.


Step 3: Choose and list your products.


Whether you're manufacturing your products, sourcing them from a supplier, or flipping them from eBay, they have to meet specific criteria, which may include the following:


  • Do they belong in a profitable niche?
  • Are they approved by US Customs and Border Protection? Refer to this guide.
  • Do they have low referral and shipping fees?
  • Are you passionate about these products?
  • How big and heavy are they? Will they be shipped in crates?
  • If manufacturing, how close are your suppliers and factory to the nearest port?
  • Is it easy to put your own spin on these products in a competitive market?
  • Will Americans be interested in these products?


The best way to find the right products to sell on Amazon USA is to conduct extensive product research. Utilize tools such as Helium 10, Jungle Scout, and AMZBase to analyze substantial data from leading e-commerce platforms. 


Step 4: Price your products.


Many Amazon sellers fail due to a lack of financial insight. They often set prices arbitrarily, without clear projections, and without considering differences in inventory, selling methods, and business objectives compared to their competitors.


When setting prices, divide all production, shipping, and associated costs by the number of items produced. Select your desired net profit per item, then add it to the calculated cost per item.


If you're unaware of the deductions Amazon makes from your sales, your calculations won't be precise. Amazon outlines various fees for each sale, including referral and FBA fees, which can vary based on product category, size, and weight.


You'll be surprised by how much Amazon cuts from specific product categories. For example, they charge an 8% referral fee for computers, consumer electronics, and appliances but 17% for clothing and accessories. Depending on shipping conditions, additional fees like inventory, high-volume listing, and refund administration fees may also apply.


Here's a tip: Returns are an Amazon business killer. Not only do they incur shipping and administrative costs, but they also drive negative reviews from dissatisfied customers. Prioritizing quality assurance can help minimize returns.


Step 5: Choose a fulfillment method.


When creating a shipping plan, Amazon will ask you to choose between two fulfillment methods: Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) and Fulfillment by Merchant (FBM). With FBA, Amazon handles picking, packing, and shipping your products, whereas with FBM, you handle the shipping yourself.


Amazon plans to establish two fulfillment centers in South Africa, one in Johannesburg and another in Cape Town. But it's unlikely they'd be in operation anytime soon. And even if they start operating, you will still need a 3PL service to ship your products to those warehouses. 


What you need is a combination of FBA and 3PL services. Utilize 3PL to ship your products from Africa to an Amazon fulfillment center in the US and FBA to ship your products to your customers in the US. This means when you plan your shipping, you will still choose FBA, assuming your products are already stored in an Amazon warehouse.


Step 6: Prepare your products for shipment.


If you use a 3PL service, make sure the provider knows Amazon's packaging policy, especially regarding box labeling. Remember, your package goes to an Amazon Fulfillment Center, not directly to your customer's home.


Before being accepted into the warehouse, the item will undergo a thorough inspection. It will not be accepted if it fails to meet Amazon's standards. To make matters worse, Amazon only returns products to US addresses. They don't return products outside the US. So, if they reject your products, you won’t be able to retrieve them. Therefore, it's crucial to adhere to Amazon's packaging guidelines.


Sell on Amazon USA from Africa Now!


E-commerce has come a long way, from being limited to first-world countries to becoming semi-globalized. Amazon has democratized opportunities for entrepreneurs of all sizes by streamlining trade routes and simplifying fulfillment processes. Now that selling to Amazon US is easier than ever, no matter where you are, why delay? Try it now!

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