How To Ungate Your Amazon Account To Sell in Europe
Since making its entry into the European marketplace over 20 years ago, Amazon has become a dominant e-commerce force, enabling more than 240,000 small and medium-sized enterprises to grow their business across Europe and around the world.
Although the American-based e-retail giant isn’t present in all the EU countries, it has invested heavily in its operational footprint and can access all 28 EU countries, including the United Kingdom.
For startups still hanging in the balance, chances are you are missing out on a great opportunity to expand your business beyond your hometown. Since launching in Europe, Amazon has outlaid Pan-European cumulative investments of more than 200 billion Euros, created more than 200,000 permanent jobs, as well as hundreds of thousands of seasonal roles.
However, much of the company’s outlay has been invested in its 70 commanding logistics centers across Europe that offer world-class inventory handling solutions. While this alone is enough incentive for aspiring Amazon sellers to take the leap, the company boasts massive global appeal and recognition and has mastered its craft when it comes to meeting the demands of the local European market.
That said, navigating the complexities of selling on Amazon Seller Central Europe marketplace can be daunting for new sellers. In this article, we take a closer look at the nuances required to sell successfully on Amazon Europe.
Understanding Amazon Seller Central Europe Marketplaces
Amazon made its way into Europe in 1998, first creating an outlet in Germany. Over the years, the company has sold its business model to its European partners and presently operates across 20 EU countries, including the UK.
The company has surpassed expectations, as what seemed impossible two decades ago has been overachieved. With over 100 billion annual net sales, Europe is Amazon’s most lucrative market outside the United States, and the forecast revenue metrics for the next five figures are extremely impressive.
Amazon may have been founded from humble beginnings in a Jeff Bezos garage. Fast forward, the company operates 16 e-retail sites worldwide and its expansionist model promises to get even bigger. The company’s four regional markets include the Americas, the Middle East, Asia-Pacific, and Europe (europe.amazon.com).
Regarding the European market, Amazon operates five primary marketplaces, including Amazon.de (Germany), Amazon.co.uk (United Kingdom), Amazon.it (Italy), Amazon.fr (France), and Amazon.es (Spain). While the aforementioned five are Europe’s largest Amazon marketplaces, the company currently has other offshoots available, including Amazon.nl (the Netherlands), Amazon.pl (Poland), and Amazon.se (Sweden).
Each of these marketplaces features listings that are optimized to meet the demands of the local markets and have its own language, currency, and unique selling guidelines. To list and sell on europe.amazon.com, it is crucial to familiarize yourself with the compliance criteria for every country’s marketplace.
4 Factors To Consider Before Selling on Amazon Central Seller Europe
1. Product Research and Optimization
Europe is a massive marketplace, and new sellers must analyze market trends and customer preferences to meet regional demands. Most products are typically localized, which is why it is vital to also consider local cultures and linguistic nuances for each marketplace.
Furthermore, consider using Amazon’s language tools to translate your product detail pages into the country’s accurate native language to shore up customer experience. This will enhance product visibility and appeal to local customers.
2. Fulfillment Options
In the European marketplace, the primary fulfillment methods offered by Amazon include Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) and Fulfillment by Merchant (FBM). For the former, Amazon handles inventory storage, packaging, and shipping on a seller’s behalf. FBA typically offers numerous advantages, including world-class customer service and Prime eligibility.
For the FBM option, however, sellers are required to handle fulfillment by themselves. Each option presents its pros and cons. So, analyze those and choose a fulfillment method that works for your business needs.
3. VAT and Tax Obligations
VAT (value-added tax) is to Europe what sales tax is to the USA, and this is a significant factor to consider before selling on Amazon’s European marketplace. Every country in Europe has its tax guidelines that all sellers must comply with.
Typically, the VAT rates are determined by factors such as the type of business, annual sales volumes, and your business location. So, consult a tax professional to ensure you get your tax calculations right and make your onboarding process simpler.
4. Product Compliance and Legalities
To sell on Amazon Europe, you must adhere to regulatory measures such as product safety, labeling requirements, and intellectual property rights, among others. The European Union as an economic bloc has its unified regulations, including the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which all sellers must comply with or risk penalties or account blockage.
When it comes to restricted product categories, sellers on Amazon Europe must meet the safety standards stipulated by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) – which is a decentralized European body based in the Netherlands and is tasked with supervision, scientific evaluation, and safety standards of human and veterinary consumer products within the EU.
Amazon Europe Seller Account Setup
To start selling on Amazon’s European marketplaces, you are required to create a seller account for each country or opt for Amazon’s Pan-European FBA program. This program enables you to store inventory in multiple fulfillment centers across Europe, allowing for faster and more cost-effective shipping.
However, compliance with each country’s VAT regulations is mandatory for your goods to be stored. Amazon is present in several European marketplaces, including France, the UK, Germany, Italy, Sweden, Holland, Poland, and Spain. As a seller, you can choose to list in each one of them or several. However, you will also be required to choose one that will be your home country.
For a long time, the UK was a favorite location because of its national language. However, Brexit jeopardized that advantage. Presently, EU and UK sellers choosing to sell globally are required to have a warehouse and pay tax separately in both countries.
So, whether you are a start-up looking to expand your business in Europe or sell globally, here is a brief overview of Europe’s seller guidelines, including how to create an account and sell on Amazon Europe:
- Navigate to Europe’s version of the Amazon marketplace (europe.amazon.com) to create a seller account in your home country.
- Select a selling plan between Individual and Professional. The former charges €0.99 per sale, while the latter charges a monthly fee of €39.
- To get started, you’ll need important documents such as a telephone number, a business email address, a valid passport or national ID, contact details, a bank account, company registration details including a VAT registration number, and a chargeable credit card.
- For sellers targeting other European marketplaces, beware of VAT regulations in the respective EU country. This is often dictated by factors like the type of business, its location, total annual sales, and the fulfillment method.
- Create a listing and add products.
- Include all the requisite product identifiers such as the name, SKU, EORI, UPC, ISBN, or EAN, as well as price details, quantity, and fulfillment options. Note that every unit must have scannable labels and bar codes.
- Select a fulfillment method – either ship independently via the Fulfillment by Merchant (FBM) option or utilize Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) through freight forwarding solutions such as European Fulfillment Network (EFN), Pan-European FBA, or Multi-Country Inventory (MCI). If you are a new seller, FBA is your best bet.
- Maintain proper standards on your seller account. Amazon expects European sellers to meet certain performance standards, emphasizing metrics such as order defect rate and timely shipments. So be sure to track sales, fulfill orders, and employ ethical standards when interacting with customers.
- Fulfill orders and grow your business.
What is Amazon European Unified Account?
The Amazon European Unified Account allows sellers to create and manage product listings across Amazon’s five European marketplaces: Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.fr, Amazon.de, Amazon.it, and Amazon.es. This unified account structure facilitates selling across different European countries more seamlessly and is part of Amazon’s European Marketplaces account program.
By utilizing the European Unified Account, sellers can streamline their operations and potentially increase their sales by reaching a broader audience across Europe. However, they also need to be mindful of the regulatory, language, and logistical differences inherent in operating across different European countries.
Freight Forwarding Options on Seller Central Amazon Europe
When moving into Amazon Seller Central Europe, you can choose from the following five fulfillment options:
1. Fulfillment by Merchant (FBM)
This option requires you to handle and fulfill orders by yourself. In that case, you may have to enlist the services of a third-party warehouse and distributor to ship your inventory from your location to a said country in Europe.
2. Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA)
This option can go three ways and will depend on your needs and objectives, as well as the scale of your business. Either way, you’ll be eligible for Prime Solutions.
3. European Fulfillment Network (EFN)
With this option, you will only need to ship your products to one of Amazon’s warehouses in Europe, and the rest of the legwork will be done by Amazon, including packaging and distribution.
4. Multi-Country Inventory (MCI)
This option allows you to store inventory in multiple EU member countries. This generally gives you the freedom to choose and have full control over your inventory and shipping options. You can find more information on Amazon’s Official Website.
5. Pan-European FBA
In this option, all you have to do is ship your inventory to one of Amazon’s warehouses and the experts will distribute it from there across Europe depending on demand. Here is an overview of how the Pan-European FBA works:
- List your FBA products in any of the countries, including Italy, Spain, Germany, France, etc.
- Allow order placement in at least 2 of the aforementioned EU countries.
- Ship your inventory to any of Amazon’s fulfillment centers within the EU.
- Sell and manage inventory via the Seller Central dashboard.
What Are Amazon Restricted Or Gated Categories?
Amazon gated or restricted categories are those with strict selling rules that no seller is allowed to sell freely. These categories, brands, and ASINs have specific approval guidelines, and any seller who meets the standards can enjoy a vast market with less competition.
That means Amazon only has the power to draw the rules and open gates for more sellers to access the categories. The good news, however, is that Amazon does not always restrict the entire category, like in the previous gating practices.
Instead, it gates subcategories, leaving some products open, even though they might be under gated categories. This explains why there is a short list of gated categories and a long list of restricted products or subcategories.
Generally, any seller who wants to sell within a gated category must apply for Amazon to let them in.
Also, enlisting the services of third-party ungating companies is another way on how to get ungated in Europe for europe.amazon.com
Why Does Amazon Gate Its Categories?
Most multi-million investments are built on trust, customer satisfaction, and a healthy working environment, and Amazon is no exception. Being a huge marketplace with millions of users globally, Amazon strives to maintain a good relationship with both buyers and sellers by ensuring only high-quality products are in circulation.
It achieves this by gating some categories, brands, and ASINs. Therefore, among others, here are the main reasons why Amazon gates its categories:
To Be Able To Monitor Product Standards
One of the first missions of the company is to ensure buyers are offered both high-quality and safe products. It does this by allowing only sellers whose products have undergone stringent quality assessment steps to access highly-demanded categories.
Since the platform is home to millions of brands and buyers, there are high chances of buyers getting counterfeit products.
Hence, it is Amazon’s responsibility to block such products by setting up strict selling rules. That is why ungating service for Europe requires sellers to show authorization and necessary documentation from agencies that oversee all safety standards concerning ingredients or raw materials, packaging, product labeling, and expiry dates.
For the Protection of Every Brand’s Reputation
Amazon also works jointly with big brands to ensure that only authorized resellers can list products from certain brands.
Therefore, to protect the brand’s reputation, Amazon asks sellers to provide legit documentation from these brands to show they are allowed to list their products.
Resellers who do not provide proof of authorization are locked out of certain categories. Many large and well-known brands require pre-approval with them directly, before even applying to Amazon.
This is true for both seasoned sellers, and individuals new to the platform.
To Enhance Customer Satisfaction
Besides ensuring buyers can get high-quality products, Amazon also restricts some categories to prevent sellers from exploiting buyers. That means only sellers with a positive track record can access the categories and reach buyers.
This enhances customer satisfaction and a positive rating. The company may also limit or dictate maximum pricing to ensure buyers are not being fleeced.
Adherence to the FDA and EMA Regulations
Many items require the approval of the Food and Drugs Administration (FDA), European Medicines Agency (EMA), and each country’s safety boards to sell in the Amazon Europe marketplace. EMA is a decentralized European body based in the Netherlands and is tasked with supervision, scientific evaluation, and safety standards for human and veterinary consumer products within the EU.
No retail platform, website, or other selling venue is permitted to offer any product that is not previously rubber-stamped by these bodies. The obvious reason for this is safety because specific laws exist to ensure that end users are not harmed.
Categories And Products That Require Amazon Approval in Europe
As stated earlier, Amazon has a long list of gated products and a short list of restricted categories. That is because one category can have more subcategories, which can add up to tens of products.
Therefore, when applying for approval, sellers need to consider three ungating levels; category, brand, and product ungating. They should also differentiate between category and product unlocking.
General Guidelines to Get Ungated on Amazon Europe
Whether you are a new reseller or an established FBA seller, utilizing the vast market space offered by Amazon should never be a challenge again. Amazon’s mission is to see its users grow, and thus, increase sales and profitability.
And this does not matter if you are listing your products in a locked or unrestricted category. As a result, if you want to expand your selling portfolio by accessing restricted categories, here are the general guidelines to get ungated on Amazon Europe:
Sign Up for A Professional Amazon Seller Account
Professional Amazon Seller Account is the backbone of any seller as it records all the activities conducted by the seller on the platform. It is through this account that Amazon can tell your business position and determine whether you meet all the quality standards or not. If you don’t have one, you can create a professional Seller Account which goes for around €39.99 per month.
Analyze And Verify Your Account Health
Creating a professional Seller Account is not enough. You still need to maintain its health to maximize your chances of getting approved. Maintaining a healthy account includes meeting your customers’ expectations and adhering to Amazon’s business code. That means you should have a timely shipping record, good customer relations, competitive pricing, and avoid violating Amazon’s policies. To check your account health, go to the Account Health section on the Seller Central Account and click on the Performance menu.
Check Specific Category Ungating Guidelines
Each category has specific ungating instructions, and you need to check them before requesting approval. Some categories are complicated, while others have simple instructions that even new sellers can unlock easily. For example, some categories like CA Grocery & Gourmet ungating service may require sellers to have at least three years of selling experience and running websites.
Choose A Reputable Supplier
Getting a reliable supplier is also a vital step, especially as your demand curve grows. Amazon will also ask you to provide legitimate invoices from trusted suppliers whose products fall under gated categories. After choosing a supplier, you need to place at least three orders, with each order having at least ten pieces of the restricted product. Retailers are not considered suppliers. You cannot go down to your local store and purchase a bunch of items for resale. The products need to come from verified wholesalers and distributors.
Prepare All Documents
Before submitting your approval request, you need to prepare your documents, which include recent purchase invoices from reputable wholesalers. These scanned copies of individual invoices should have all the ASINs written next to the product name. Price and other confidential information should be locked for wholesaler privacy.
With all the documents and other requirements ready, you can proceed to request approval from Amazon.
Guidelines To Ungate Specific Categories on Amazon Europe
Selling specific categories goes a long way in understanding what each category entails and how to ungate it on Amazon. For instance, the Grocery and Gourmet Food category requires sellers to have authorization from regulatory bodies like FDA and EMA. On the other hand, some categories require sellers to have more years of selling experience and a good online presence. Therefore, if you intend to sell in any gated category, you need to consider the following best tips to maximize your chances of getting ungated:
- Getting a Pro-Merchant Status. You can get the status at only €39 per month. It becomes easier if you already have a Professional Seller Account.
- Maintaining your order defect rate below 1%. Since it is challenging to tell how fast some products can go bad, it is crucial to ensure your orders move as fast as possible to minimize cases of selling defective products.
- Maintaining your pre-fulfillment cancel rate below 2.5%. A higher pre-fulfillment cancel rate can impact your account health negatively. Thus, you need to lower your order cancelation to maximize your approval chances.
- Lowering your late shipment rate to below 4%. Timely delivery is one way to get customer trust; hence, you should try as much as possible to avoid late shipment.
- Acquiring child product certificate. A Child Product Certificate is a must-have requirement if you want to sell in children’s categories such as Toys and Games. It also proves that you adhere to both local and federal product safety laws.
Final Thoughts on Seller Central Europe Amazon Marketplace
Amazon presents a wealth of entrepreneurial opportunities, especially when you expand your business to Europe, which is Amazon’s second biggest marketplace in the world. However, since each European country has laws regarding Amazon ungating, you will need to conduct thorough due diligence to navigate compliance and legal complexities involved in selling in this lucrative marketplace.
But, things become considerably easier if you get assistance from the best ungating service, which helps you solve all the puzzles and scale your business on the largest e-retailer.