While this guide is primarily written for Canadians who are looking at selling on Amazon Canada, US sellers who want to list and sell on Amazon Canada would benefit as well. I just want to hit a few important points for you to consider.
How is Selling on Amazon Canada Different from Selling in the US?
The market is a lot smaller. While my fellow US sellers enjoy dozens of sales every day, I think a good day is more than 10 sales! Our market is about 10% of the US market. And it’s not just population numbers, Canadians just have not yet embraced buying everything online the way that American’s have. This will hopefully change as the product catalogue expands.
The margins are bigger. While I may have fewer sales in number, I do make more money on each sale. Here in Canada we just do not have the same selection and availability of product. So we charge more, sometimes a lot more.
The competition is less. This of course will change over time but generally speaking, when I go to list a product there will be no other FBA (Fulfilled by Amazon) sellers, and at most maybe one or two. What’s more, the existing seller on the listing will more than likely be a US MF (Merchant Fulfilled) seller who is charging a crazy amount that I have no trouble competing with.
The shipping is a killer! In the US, Amazon has a deal with UPS and so US sellers get a sweet shipping deal. I am currently using Flagship (please mention this blog if you sign up with Flagship) but also check out Shiptime.ca especially if you are a Costco member. For more info, I wrote this article on shipping. My first shipment cost me $7 per item to ship! But now I am able to keep that below $2 per item.
Huge Update for Shipping to Amazon Canada FBA!
Exciting news (March 2016). Canada now has the same deep discounted shipping via UPS that they have in the US! The price is amazing and now about 75% less. I am saving probably $100 a week or even more. After you approve your shipment in Seller Central, choose the Amazon partnered shipping. You will get a UPS prepaid label as well as the usual Amazon FBA label (on the same sheet) for each box.
Once you have completed the shipment, log in to UPS.ca and create an account and schedule your pickup! You can also drop off to your nearest UPS location if you prefer.
Your dollar and my dollar are not the same! I am adding this paragraph in the summer of 2015. If you are a US seller you need to know that our Canadian dollar is at historic lows. If your payout from Amazon is $100 Canadian, you will only get $70ish. Be sure to factor this in to your price. (Update Winter 2016. Sorry now you only get $60 bucks for that $100 payout)
The ranks are kind of meaningless. This has been an interesting learning experience. When I was a newbie to selling on Amazon Canada, I was watching a lot of US based you tube videos and reading US based articles. So I would make decisions based on their recommendations and the product would sit and sit. At some point I realized that our product base is so much smaller than in the US. So a toy with a rank of 40000 might be a good seller in the US, but here in Canada I need to be looking at toys under 4000 rank.
An item with no rank is not necessarily a bad thing. In the Canadian Amazon marketplace we have so many products without a rank. When I was new I avoided those like the plague. But now I know that rank is only 1 piece of the purchasing decision. Many of these items without a rank have only one or two sellers, usually from the US. For example a Collector Hot Wheels car was listed for over $2000. The item had no rank of course because who would ever buy it at that price! I paid $3 for that car and listed it for $29 and it sold. Then I sold 2 more at that price and now it has a rank. This is an extreme example but I run into this issue several times a day and I no longer hesitate to list an item with no rank, as long as it is a product with a solid brand.
You will need to be comfortable creating a listing from scratch. Again, this is because our Canadian catalogue is so small and we have fewer sellers. I have to create brand new listings almost every day. I actually really like doing it because I have more control. A bad listing might never get seen. New listings absolutely must have good keyword use in the Title, bullet points, Description and the Keyword tab. I rely on my keyword tool jaaxy for this, but even some basic common sense is better than what I see on some listings. For example there was a Valentine Gift Basket that did not have the word valentine anywhere on the listing and did not come up in the search results when I was researching valentine. I came across it when I searched for chocolate. Dumb!
What if I am a Canadian and I want to Sell on Amazon.com?
Shortly after I wrote this article about selling on Amazon Canada, I ventured over to Amazon.com and started selling product there. I was absolutely blown away by the increased sales velocity! It’s worth the smaller margins because you sure make up for it volume. And I have now discovered that if you can source out products are hard to find in the US, the margins are huge along with the sales velocity.
But the biggest hurdle that we as Canadians face is that darn border! Every single day I get questions from fellow Canadians wanting to know how to get their products into the US.
Luckily, fellow Canadian seller Duncan MacPherson has written a guide for us that has all the information that I wish I had 2 years ago! He tells you what all the options are and about the forms, really everything you need to know! All excuses are eliminated!
Other things you can read
I have written other articles that are geared to newbies. These apply to would be Amazon sellers from any country:
- How to get started even if you are broke
- How to source without a scanning app
- How to make sure you will make a profit (Math Alert!)
- Lessons I learned in Q4
- Shipping Lessons and Supplies
I would say that the biggest jump I had in my business is a result of further education. I am one of those people who is willing to pay for more information/education because I know that I will earn that money back in the form of a bigger better business. Any time I am stuck I either buy a book, get extra coaching, join a focused group, pay for a course on that subject.
I am most impressed by this series of books written by Chris Green, Arbitrage, Retail Arbitrage and Online Arbitrage. If you can only get one and money is an issue, then get Arbitrage, it is only about $10. The insight provided? Priceless. Then as soon as you are able, buy the other two books.
I can also recommend Silent Sales Machine by Jim Cockrum, having recently read that one.
Best of luck in your new business!