International sales – newbie or seasoned pro?
Some UK trends you may not have expected. We dip into the 2016 Amazon.co.uk Trends Report, published at the end of December, to highlight the most interesting bits.
The 2016 Amazon.co.uk Trends Report makes for interesting reading. While the domination of healthy eating guides and fitness DVDs at the start of 2016 would raise no eyebrows, who would have anticipated that February would see sales of Korean beauty sheet masks rocket by more than 900% year-on-year; that March’s bestseller would be a humane Spider Catcher – up 232%; that sales of quirky inflatables from rainbow-coloured unicorns to swan-shaped drinks holders would increase 540% to dominate Summer swimming pools; or that October would see sales of pet Halloween costumes surge by 62% year-on-year.
Why do these trends matter?
First and foremost, because they are proof of what is possible on the Amazon Marketplace, which offers a limitless shop window for smaller online sellers. Even given the small selection included you can appreciate the infinite diversity of products that can and have become best sellers.
They also reveal the importance of social media in driving commercial success on the Marketplace: the Spider Catcher promotional video that went viral on YouTube; the inflatables craze fuelled by Instagram snaps; the sheet mask ‘selfies’ posted by celebrities. It’s a reminder that if your products enjoy social media success then healthy sales will follow.
Finally, they remind us how quickly buyers’ preferences change - a winning product one month is likely to be supplanted by something totally different the following month. And they show how predilections vary widely across towns, regions and countries.
Some of these variations won’t come as a surprise: In terms of books, for example, Christmas bestsellers in Glasgow and Edinburgh were ‘Oor Wullie’ and ‘The Broons’ respectively; Johnny Marr’s autobiography ‘Set the Boy Free’ was the read of preference in Manchester; while The Beatles ‘Eight Days a Week’ was number one in Liverpool.
Digging deeper into the Report, revealed less expected regional variations: musical inflatables (such as microphones, saxophones and guitars) were party essentials in the North-East in 2016; Kanye face-masks sold particularly well on Skye following his visit to that island; while in London, premium sleep masks were favourites at the start of British Summer Time.
Sellers take note!
“The days of only being able to sell products to customers in one town, region or country are long gone,” says Simon Johnson, Director, Seller Services Amazon UK.
Customer expectations: faster delivery
The 2016 Trends Report highlights Amazon Prime. This is evident in the focus on media products as well as in the announcement of the ever-faster delivery times available through Prime Now.
2016 saw the roll-out of the Prime Now delivery service, which is now available to more than 30% of the UK population. It offers one-hour delivery on more than 15,000 popular items for £6.99, or delivery at no extra charge within a choice of two-hour, same-day delivery slots, seven days a week.
But, although the Report talks about the availability of Prime Now, no usage statistics are included, leaving one to wonder what the actual take-up is – and to what extent the one or two-hour delivery requirement is actually being driven by consumers. Am I alone in having difficulty imagining I would be so desperate for a banana (a bestseller on Prime Now) that I would resort to an electronic device rather than walk to the corner shop?
That brings us to the Prime Now statistics that were included in the Report – several of which seem quite bizarre. For example, we learn that:
- In Leeds, 8am is the most common time for customers to receive a Fire TV Stick.
- In Manchester, 7pm is crumpet hour.
- In Birmingham, 9pm sees customers most likely to receive a Kinder Bueno Chocolate Bar.
You may not find this information particularly useful - except as a warning that where Amazon goes, customer expectations follow, so this will inevitably have an impact on what is considered possible by your own customers.
Christmas shopping: we’re not waiting for Black Friday
Of more interest perhaps is the finding that the first spike in sales of Christmas-related products in 2016 occurred on Wednesday 19th October – almost a month before Amazon’s extended Black Friday sales event, which ran from 14th to 25th November.
Let this be a reminder for 2017 that your stock needs to be in place and your web-site reflecting the festive spirit by the middle of October.
Amazon Marketplace: making it easier to sell at home - and cross-border
Some may dismiss the 2016 Trends Report as a purely marketing exercise from Amazon.co.uk; but I see it also as a reminder of the huge opportunity offered to smaller online retailers by the Amazon Marketplace.
According to the Report, tens of thousands of UK e-commerce sellers have chosen to operate on Amazon Marketplace: from home-based entrepreneurs through small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs). This gives them access to Amazon’s hundreds of millions of global customers - and don’t forget, around half of all purchases on Amazon’s global sites come from Marketplace Sellers. Amazon.co.uk offers customers a choice of over 150 million different items – thanks largely to the incredible variety of products sold by third party sellers. This variety is certainly evident in the Report.
And over 60% of UK Marketplace sellers are now selling to customers across the world, producing total export sales for the UK that are expected to exceed £1.8 billion in 2016, up 29% year-on-year.
Fulfilment by Amazon (FBA) has helped many online retailers to operate cross-border and Amazon recently launched Pan-European FBA, which they claim enables you to place inventory closer to your European customers, fulfil and deliver orders at lower costs and in less time, and access Prime.
And let’s not forget the Amazon Global Store, designed to make it easier to access China.
At Currencies Direct we too have noted the increase in cross-border trade and for many of our customers who sell internationally, FBA has been a great starting point when getting to grips with the demands of global fulfilment.
We can help here too.
We’re dedicated to simplifying the currency transfer process for online SMEs - helping you to send and receive payments around the globe and support this growth into new markets.
If you’re selling internationally on Amazon and would like to know more about our fast and flexible transfer service for online sellers, contact us on +44 (0) 20 7847 9269 or email [email protected].