In 2017, Canada was America’s largest goods export market. There’s no other country the US sells more stuff to, yet Canada is largely unexplored for many US-based Amazon sellers. Even though we share a common language and culture with our “Neighbors to the North,” Canada still remains a largely untapped market for many US e-commerce sellers. But it’s not as simple as opening up for business in Canada. Breaking into the market and maximizing your profits requires some understanding.
In this guide, we’ll give you the know-how you need to start selling on Amazon.ca from the US, from accessing Amazon Canada Seller Central to whether you need a foreign bank account. So, let’s dig in.
Although the population of Canada is a lot lower than the US, Amazon Canada still has tens of millions of online shoppers who need things. In terms of international expansion for your ecommerce business, it’s also relatively easy to get started selling to Canada for Americans.
You can sell in the Canadian market from your normal Amazon.com account and can access Amazon Canada Seller Central as easily as you access the US seller central. Amazon calls it NAUA (North America Unified Account). According to Amazon:
“In North America, we have simplified managing your business across the United States, Canada, and Mexico marketplaces. The North America Unified Account enables you to create and manage product offers in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico”
The ease of selling across borders from the same account is enticing. Selling on Amazon.ca from the US could open your products to an entirely new pool of international customers, something that may be tempting if you feel like you’ve tapped out the US markets.
Despite jokes about Canada being the 51st state, it is in fact its own country with its own rules and regulations about what can be sold. Be sure you check out Amazon.ca’s list of prohibited content as well as their list of restricted products.
Although much of Canada’s list is similar to the restricted items in the US, make sure you’re aware of all restrictions before you begin selling on Amazon Canada. If you decide to start listing products for sale to Canada, you’re responsible for making sure your items comply with their laws and regulations.
What sells well in the US, may not sell as well in Canada. Check out the best sellers page for the current best-selling products on Amazon.ca. Try to adapt your offerings to what the market wants.
A great place to begin is by looking for gaps in the market. Check your competitors’ strengths and weaknesses, then use them to help tailor your products to the Canadian market. What products do you have that wouldn’t have a lot of competition in Canada? Could you be on the first page on Amazon Canada for your product?
Lastly, don’t feel the need to jump right in by putting your entire catalogue on Amazon.ca right away. List a few of your current best-selling items that look like they’d perform well, and see how they do on Canada.
For shipping to Canada, you have two options. You can either use FBA (Fulfilment by Amazon) or you can ship the items yourself. Both have their pros and cons.
Fulfilment by Amazon benefits include:
FBA still means you have to get the stock to their fulfillment centers. To get the best shipping rates, you’ll want to ship in bulk. Just take care not to ship too much at first before you understand how well your items will sell. You might save money on shipping upfront by going big, but you could get stuck with more fees if you struggle to sell the items. With FBA, the longer products sit on a shelf, the more you may have to pay in storage fees. Remember, you’re in a new market. Give yourself time to experiment and adapt, even if it means paying a little more in shipping.
Merchant Fulfilled Shipping on Amazon Canada has its own set of pros and cons:
– Shipping items yourself means you can dip your toe in the market, and see which products do best when selling on Amazon.ca from the US
– Fulfilling your own orders means a lot more work for you on a day-to-day basis. You’re responsible for all parts of the process, from packaging, to shipping, tracking, and returns.
If you want to sell products to Canadians, you’ll have to register as a ‘Non-Resident Importer’ which is a foreign-based company importing products into Canada. You’ll also need to acquire a business number (BN) before the first importation of goods into Canada.
Don’t forget that you’ll also have to pay Canadian taxes if you collect tax on your sales in Canada, some of which may be subject to a Goods and Service Tax or Harmonized Sales Tax, depending on the province where the sale is made.
You don’t need a Canadian bank account to sell on Amazon Canada, but it’s important to be aware that Amazon charges a fee to convert your earnings from Canadian dollars into US dollars. That fee can be as high as 4.5% each time you make a conversion, so it adds up quickly. It can very easily eat into your profits without you even noticing — in fact, many sellers don’t even realize they’re being charged. They’re paying invisible fees of 3%, 4% and more.
It’s important to understand the ins and outs of receiving cross-border payments from your Amazon account to protect your profits. Just like you would if you were exchanging currency when going on a trip to a foreign country