[Kenshoo] Advertising Abroad: Amazon Ads Beyond the U.S.

July 7, 2020

Meet The Speakers

Kevin Weiss

Kevin Weiss

VP of Client Success for Ecommerce at Kenshoo

Listen to the podcast

Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn: 

  • Kevin Weiss gives his thoughts on Amazon’s different selling methods
  • When should a brand expand to international markets, and what should it consider first?
  • The tools and indicators that Kevin uses to check the demand for a certain product on Amazon
  • How to plan your advertising budget depending on which international market you are entering
  • Kevin’s advice for maximizing the U.S. market before moving international
  • Which Amazon advertising tools can help you sell internationally?
  • How Kenshoo supports international selling while cutting costs and boosting efficiency
  • Where to learn more about Kenshoo and get started today

In this episode…

As e-commerce brands grow their businesses on Amazon and other online marketplaces, it’s only a matter of time until they begin to wonder: Am I ready to expand to international markets? However, for many of these brands, confusions surrounding logistics, tracking, and international advertising hold them back from taking the leap.

Kenshoo is here to change all that. As a company that powers digital advertising for the world’s top brands & agencies, Kenshoo has made it easy for e-commerce sellers to expand to international markets.

In this week’s episode of Buy Box Experts, Kevin Weiss, the VP of Client Success for Ecommerce at Kenshoo, joins host Eric Stopper to shed some light on the best practices for selling internationally on Amazon. Kevin gives his expert advice on when to expand your business to international markets, how to create a budget depending on which market you are entering, and which advertising tools and products will be best for you. Stay tuned.

Sponsor for this episode

Buy Box Experts applies decades of e-commerce experience to successfully manage their clients’ marketplace accounts. The Buy Box account managers specialize in combining an understanding of their clients’ business fundamentals and their in-depth expertise in the Amazon Marketplace. 

The team works with marketplace technicians using a system of processes, proprietary software, and extensive channel experience to ensure your Amazon presence captures the opportunity in the marketplace–not only producing greater revenue and profits but also reducing or eliminating your business’ workload. 

Buy Box prides itself on being one of the few agencies with an SMB (small to medium-sized business) division and an Enterprise division. Buy Box does not commingle clients among divisions as each has unique needs and requirements for proper account management

Learn more about Buy Box Experts at BuyBoxExperts.com

Episode Transcript

Intro 0:09
Welcome to the Buy Box Experts podcast. We bring to light the unique opportunities brands face in today’s e-commerce world.

Eric Stopper 0:18
Hey and welcome to the Buy Box Experts podcast. This is Eric Stopper. Today’s episode is brought to you by Buy Box Experts. Buy Box Experts takes ambitious brands and makes them unbeatable. We’ve got a team of consultants that will help you out to help you understand your position in the market to see where you’re losing money, wasting money, or not spending enough money. Come and talk with us. Click on the free analysis button up in the top right hand corner of buyboxexperts.com and you’ll be connected with me or a member of my team. It’s free, no strings attached. Buyboxexperts.com, click on the free analysis button. This episode is a part of a 10-part series that we’re doing with the geniuses at Kenshoo. We thought to bring our collective knowledge in a way that was fun and educationally indispensable. Today, I’m joined by Kevin Weiss, the VP of client success for e-commerce at Kenshoo. Kevin, welcome to the show. It’s great to be here. So today we’re going to talk through some of the intricacies of advertising abroad, Amazon ads beyond the United States. And so just to kind of give our listeners a flavor of who you are and where you come from, can you give us a little bit of your background?

Kevin Weiss 1:24
Absolutely. Well, I’m a newer member to the Kenshoo team, come with about 10 plus years in digital, both the advertiser and publisher sides. And the last five really focused on Amazon and e-commerce, worked with brands of all sizes from small startup/emerging to SMB, mid-market enterprise. And I’ve had the privilege of helping brands grow sales, managing hundreds of million GMV per year, and really focusing on the Amazon Marketplace as well as Amazon retail for brands, of all sizes. GMV give us a definition there. Gross merchandise volume. Okay. And it’s like the top line. So what the customers pay? And of course, you know, when you sell on Amazon, you could be on the third-party marketplace. The seller central you could be selling first party through Vendor Central. A lot of the industry uses GMV just as a unifying definition for for top line.

Eric Stopper 2:23
You know, that’s the perfect segue into a quick discussion on these different selling methods for Amazon. Included in that mix, right, you’ve got merge, which I would, I would presume is very much a one p looking platform. But walk us through some of the differences and if those are available in international marketplaces.

Kevin Weiss 2:44
Yeah, great question. Well, every marketplace is at a different stage in its maturity lifecycle. But generally, we’ve seen all we all seen the trends, whatever news outlet you subscribe to. Certainly a big fan of all the content here. On marketplace pulse, we see that the marketplace side is growing. So three P is the way that brands are accessing more and more international marketplaces. But Amazon does have a retail offering where they actually Buy Wholesale from the brand, brand manufacturer and then they retail to the consumer. So within international markets, you have a lot of options. You can sell to a third-party marketplaces, which is Seller Central. Or you can initiate a relationship with Amazon retail and sell through Vendor Central. Or of course, you could license that out to either a distributor or an authorized reseller that’s going to help you get your products sold into consumers in that geographic market. So plenty of options, which is pretty common, as most of you know, on Amazon, a lot of ways to slice and dice.

Eric Stopper 3:47
So what’s your personal preference across those different selling methods?

Kevin Weiss 3:54
Yeah, well, it’s a great question. It really does depend on the brand you know, typical marketer answer depends on the brand, but The advice that I would give, and this this kind of gets into a question I will get to about when a brand should expand to international markets, is you need to be able to support the market with more than just throwing your product listings up and hoping they’ll sell. That’s really like the mindset of Amazon back in 2015, when everything was just taking off, and it was a little bit easier, a little softer back then, on the supply side of the equation. Now, you know, it’s really competitive. And you do need to support a product launch a go-to market, so to speak, was more than just listing your product, you need to build reviews, you need to run advertising, you need to do the whole equation. So if you’re not ready to support that local market, and consider how you might expand into brick and mortar or support with some brand building and going up funnel with other channels like Google or Facebook and those other markets, then you should probably consider a distributor or authorized reseller who’s got a presence there and can help you get some of the basics. But of course, this is a great topic for the folks at Buy Box Experts, your Amazon expert that is helping you navigate this, I would strongly recommend that you don’t go it alone, because every brand is going to have a slightly different ideal scenario for them.

Eric Stopper 5:20
Um, the shameless plug. I love it. Thank you, Kevin. Now Vendor Central is a super weird animal that has undergone a lot of changes over the last couple years. And just so the listeners kind of get a flavor for how it looks. vendor central is typically something that you need to be invited to. Usually right, as Kevin said, we’re authorized resellers with really, really clear rules set in the contracts that you have with them. The name of our company derives from the fact that people have historically done this pretty poorly. They just will sell to everybody and then they wonder why they can’t control their amazon.co.uk. And then they have to come to us and they spend probably more money than they need to try to fix problems that they could have proactively avoided. So just keep that in mind. Vendor Central, I think is really great for low lower priced items and huge items because Amazon will eat the cost of any, any loss, right? So if they have to advertise $7 to sell a $5 product, like you don’t really you don’t really eat all that cost as the as the original vendor to to Amazon. So just just some kind of side notes there. Kevin, you said it perfectly. When should a brand move into the international markets?

Kevin Weiss 6:45
Yeah, well, the first is when your product is going to have a chance of achieving some, some actual sell through and some actual sales velocity in that market. So that’s, that’s when you should be expanding and so Sometimes, you’re going to be able to identify this pretty quickly just by going to that local market, like amazon.co.uk, or, you know, Amazon and Germany, France, Japan, whatever the international market that you’re thinking might have a demand for your product. And you’ll be able to run searches for different keywords and see what products show up. That type of research in the market is going to be an indication of when you search for a specific keyword. Are there products that you’re either competing against, or you could fill a gap, or there’s a certain amount of demand for that you could fill that demand by listing your product there. And the second piece is do the economics line up for you. So if you have a product that normally sells for, you know, five or $6, and it’s a really low price point item, it might be cost prohibitive for you to actually sell that little widget, and there’s another markets when you start factoring in the different costs. So the first piece that you should do is do that, that research within the market search for the keywords that people are searching for here in the US. Sometimes you’ll need to translate or localize those keyword searches, and do that research, then do the margin analysis. And if you’re in doubt about how to do that, you can talk to an expert or you can reach out to Amazon global selling, and start to get some resources there about how the economics work around setting up all the compliance so that you can start selling that’s that’s really when you should expand is when the time is right for you to actually be able to capitalize on the demand in that market.

Eric Stopper 8:43
So that begs a really serious question for a lot of folks and I get asked this question all the time. What is the best way in your experience to be able to find what the demand is for a certain product on Amazon?

Kevin Weiss 8:58
Yeah, well, I’ve used the number of different tools. So I’m currently using ANZ Scout Pro as my go to, in the past, use the Unicorn Smasher. And through the Jungle Scout as well on a one off, use Keepa as well. And just checking to see some sales history and review history and stuff. So those are the tools that I’m using, and they are integrated across international markets. So you can get an estimated unit sales just based on the bestseller rank that BSR. So that’s a good place to check for demand, running those different keyword searches and checking to see the competitors on the estimate itself.

Eric Stopper 9:41
Yeah, you mentioned that’s a few criteria, right to be able to evaluate demand. It doesn’t sound like there’s just one cut and dry way to say yes, there’s lots of people searching for this. Is there any really easy indicator right like top line cream at the top where I can just search for a keyword and the first thing that I know is x and that’s probably a pretty good indicator. Yeah.

Kevin Weiss 10:04
Yeah. Great question. So one of the first indicators is you run a search for something on Amazon, you see one product maybe two with a good number of reviews and then this big drop off this gap. And just after that, that’s a telltale sign that there’s demand in the space and there’s a need for more of that competition. And sometimes, you know, we’ll talk about this a little bit about what types of products tend to do well internationally. But you want to fill a gap and if you see the gap right there on the search results page, that’s a good indication that there’s probably a soft spot for your product to be listed there. And so

Eric Stopper 10:45
yeah, and again, that might be a conversation for you to have with that global selling team and call us that Buy Box Experts man I’d love to talk with you about your products and how they’re doing and the efficacy of you selling in another market. I think we can find those things together. So, I mean, there’s a lot of golden here for people who are looking to sell internationally. But I think one of the thoughts that I have, as somebody who has accounts that sell mostly in the United States and just a few international ones, it’s it’s kind of this existential feeling of how do I know if I’m ready, right? I’ve looked at my products, they look like there’s a gap that I can exploit. I’m not super confident, but how do I know that me and my business have, let’s say, 11 or so people come in and a couple million dollars is is ready to make that leap?

Kevin Weiss 11:33
Yeah, great. Question. Well, I certainly you think about where you’re going to get your growth from. And as a business you you’re either growing or you’re dying. So you’re thinking about where to grow. And Amazon international provides a really compelling option for growth. In these additional markets. Amazon Prime household penetration is still growing. So while we’re somewhere around 58% here In the States, internationally, it’s much lower, it could be anywhere from, you know, 10 to 30%. But on the rise, and, and so really, you want to weigh the investment and the cost of expanding internationally, with the other options, you have a table for growth. So if you really feel like you’ve hit the nail on the head from a supply side of things, and you’ve got a great product, you’ve got the ability to, to, to increase production on that. And you just need to sell in more places. International may be the best growth driver for the business because you’re going to tap into those new Prime households in those other markets. And they’re growing at a faster rate than the US but it is possible that you’ve got other line extensions, or other markets or other initiatives like marketing initiatives. Maybe you’ve been looking to build the brand on Google or Facebook or start running some off site of Amazon to traffic to Amazon, you want to test more in stores. So it really you know, you got to decide which is going to be the one or two or maybe more growth initiatives that you’re going to initiate. And when you do it, then you commit to it and you invest and you lean in, and you do well, and you measure that success. So that that’d be the advice that I give, which I think has some good business application beyond just selling internationally.

Eric Stopper 13:22
So am I ready? Right, I have to look at this at a at a growth standpoint, right? Is there more, right is every dollar that I spend on the United States one going to get me more short and long term juice than if I if I go and spend that dollar in the UK platform? And I think that’s that’s something that a lot of people need to look at closely and potentially talk to a consultant about. You mentioned, right that you’ve got to be financially and logistically ready for these kinds of moves. And so, I guess what what kind of resources should be prepared? Should these brands have prepared to Put into Amazon advertising or just Amazon in general outside of the United States.

Kevin Weiss 14:06
Yeah, well, there’s certainly a lot of levels of investment that you can put to support a brand launch. And, you know, this is a topic that I’ve discussed with brands of all sizes and how much do they invest for that initial, you know, getting that momentum going. So I could probably speak a little bit more directly to the advertising side of it. When it comes to Amazon advertising, the API supports all of the international markets. And Kenshoo supports all of the Amazon advertising international markets, so North America, Europe, Japan, Australia, United Arab Emirates, and a growing list every day. What we can do is we can look at how much the spend breaks out by market and we see that usually, the US is going to be about Eight to eight and a half times more traffic, more velocity than any other market on Amazon. So if you’re thinking about a budget for UK, Germany, France, Spain, Italy, you’re probably talking about somewhere around an eighth maybe a 10th of the budget that you would need for the US. And for Japan, probably about the same about an eighth of the budget. So you can do some quick math based on on the norms there based on traffic. You can also look at the, the size of the GMV going back to our initial acronym, the amount of products that are sold in these international markets. And this is something that that we can share out in the in the show notes as well, where you’ll see that US you know, Japan, Germany, UK, Canada, there’s this big drop off there. So in terms of budgeting, you want to think about the cost relative to how much you’re spending in the US. Starting with that to get your advertising up and running

Eric Stopper 16:04
our brands typically spending enough here in the United States.

Kevin Weiss 16:09

Oh, I would say no, on the whole, I look at spend as a percentage of, of that top line sales, whether it’s ordered product sales for sellers or, or whether it’s ordered revenue or even into cogs or some of the other metrics that you measure against. And typically that that percent of spend, it’s low Amazon advertising, it’s the best growth driver that brands have. We’ve seen the lift in sales from advertising go from about 20 or 30% of total sales to 3040 and 50% of total sales, and the ability to just get at the top of search for, you know, the non brand keywords that you want. There’s just no better way to grow the brand and, and get your product in front of new customers. So I tend to see an under indexing on that and recommend That brands, find some more budget and pull from other sources that just don’t have the same kind of ROI.

Unknown Speaker 17:05
If you’re having trouble spending,

Eric Stopper 17:10
there’s typically not a market that is not decently large on Amazon. I know some industrial products are kind of at the beginning part of that innovation curve. Is it time for them to invest in a software? Is it time for them to hire a partner, right? Like, or is there? Is there one piece of advice that you could give these guys to say, let’s get you to the next level so that you really are capped out on us and then can move to international? Would you say?

Kevin Weiss 17:39
Yeah, great question. There’s, there’s three answers to that. The first is a lot of times brands will not spend as much on conquest thing as they should be. So that’s going after their competitor brand terms. That’s something that is typically not totally excavated by the advertisers. So if you’re not doing a lot of conquest thing where you’re actually bidding against your competitors brand terms, that’s an area to lean into, because you can feel the customer right from the bottom of their funnel and scenario that’s worth that investment. The second is if you’re not investing in sponsored display, or the demand side platform, Amazon DSP, this is an area to start testing is able to provide really strong return on ad spend. If you’re doing remarketing as part of that, what you get automatically was sponsored display, but it’s time to start talking about DSP here in the US. And the third, the third side of this in terms of investing is start thinking about your the budget that you’re investing in what we generally call your non working media. So the images or potentially video assets that you would use in a sponsor, brand and video. These are some things that typically brands covered To a lot later, but when you have these richer assets and materials, you can actually get more relevant advertising, better click through, the more that increased in the US. So those are all some things that you can do to really ensure that you’ve checked that box and you really maximize the US market right off the bat.

Eric Stopper 19:22
Now, you’ve mentioned all of the products, the advertising products that Amazon has available, sponsored products sponsored brands, the headline search ads, display advertising, and other things like video and search right are kind of in the in the sponsor, product realm. Yeah. Are those all available internationally and every single one of the marketplaces

Kevin Weiss 19:46
not for the video and search which is sponsored brand video. But in terms of the the other markets and sponsored product is going to be the most widely available, we have seen some instances where the API and international markets doesn’t support certain types of functions or add products, where we can’t actually automate as much, because the API’s are just new in those other markets. But Amazon has done a really good job closing the gap. So some very, very small exception, the products, the products are available in all international markets that you’d be expecting.

Eric Stopper 20:25
Yeah. And, and recently, probably in the last three months, maybe even longer than that. Amazon global became a thing where you can essentially take your listings from the United States and have those copied and pasted right into these other marketplaces. Talk to me a little bit about that. And how is advertising copied over as well? Or do you have to start from scratch on on Amazon Global? Sure.

Kevin Weiss 20:51
Well, yeah, it’s a great one Amazon is doing to provide tools to make it easier to sell internationally and, and they’re trying to build those blocks. wheels, you know, faster and faster in those international markets, because that’s part of Amazon’s growth strategy. In terms of advertising, you know, we in the Amazon universe, right, we do have the luxury of ad campaigns. And so from from that standpoint, it doesn’t take that much effort to start building out some, some ad campaigns in those international markets and at least get the ball rolling. In terms of campaign mirroring, leveraging the reports and the different tools. That’s something that you know, strongly recommend, you know, checking out Kenshoo for and getting some of the tools that help you work at scale, which we work on together through the Buy Box Experts Kenshoo partnership. That’d be my advice in terms of getting started. It’s not terribly imposing, not terribly difficult, but if you really want to do it well and you are looking to operate at scale internationally. definitely got to use the attack

Eric Stopper 21:55
right on now for Amazon automatic Sponsor products to work. You have to have content and your listings, titles, bullet points, that’s where it’s drawing those keywords from. And it’s probably certainly looking at competitor keywords and then having you show up for them and next to them and then determining which ones are the most viable. And so before a brand lists and touches that automatic campaign button, how much I mean, how much they put into their listings, how much effort should they put in? How many keywords should they typically be looking for? And are they are the keywords different international markets? are we pretty ubiquitous in the way that we search across different platforms?

Kevin Weiss 22:42
Great question. Yeah, each of the local markets behaves a little differently. And there’s actually some guides again, through Amazon global selling on, you know, being ready to sell and prepare to sell to this different consumer audience that have different holidays that have different shopping habits. And different preferences and buying tendencies. So very much. So I would say that the search keywords that you’re going to enter are going to have some nuances. And it goes beyond just translating, but really just localizing your listings for that market. And so whenever possible, try to work with native language speaking to, to get that that localization on your listings. Now that said, you know, you don’t have to create the Mona Lisa of product listings for, you know, your 100 you know, top seller on your list of 100. You know, follow those 8020 rules, focus on the products that you can really support. really lean into those well and do them very well. You should not just assume that you can list a product, throw a couple things through Google Translate and listen, it’s just going to work. If you throw some sponsored product money at it. I would certainly encourage you to optimize those lists. Through native language speaking whenever possible, and really support those with both the front end and the back end, so that you’re not just throwing money on ads, but you’re building organic ranking, which is really the holy grail for why you’re going to sell on Amazon first place.

Unknown Speaker 24:15
So I think

Eric Stopper 24:17
a lot of people are convinced, right that Amazon Marketplace, whatever is going to be good, and most of them are focusing on us because there’s, there’s always more here. But a lot of folks that I talked to these business owners are scared to death about logistics. They’re like, great, I can advertise, but who’s gonna track this? How do I make sure that I don’t overspend and push too many products? And then I end up with this, this shortage that causes me a rank decrease. What would you say to some of these folks put their minds at ease, what kind of products are available? And where would you send them to help them curb these issues?

Kevin Weiss 24:59
You Well, you know, fear it sets in for all of us in different ways. And, and for some, you know, selling internationally, it’s something that you’re doing for the first time, you don’t want to get it wrong and find yourself liable or violating some type of compliance regulation. And Amazon does a pretty good job of making sure that anything you need to have covered is covered before you can start competing for the buy box and start selling. So rest assured that there are millions of other folks that are in your position, trying to sell internationally and solving these challenges. There are some great resources through Amazon global selling and again, you know, talk to an expert that has helped brands scale internationally. Look for those lessons, those checklists. You can do it and know that you’ll probably make some mistakes along the way. It won’t be the end of the world you’ll learn from it, and your business will be better for it. If you have that experience.

Eric Stopper 25:52

Amazon’s really going out of their way to help with forecasting to have I’ve seen my account right the replenishment there in my face about it All the time. And so I’d be surprised if you’re if you have somebody who is always looking at Amazon, which is a pretty critical point that we emphasize to folks, you’re not likely to make huge mistakes. It’s sometimes just like, Oh, we had a huge order from somebody. And now we’re a little bit short, let’s, you know, let’s, let’s get it done. So just just have somebody with their finger on it listeners, which is why it’s good to hire someone outside of your cmo to be running to be running Amazon. Now, let’s, let’s move to Kenshoo specifically. So you guys are an international company. You serve as brands all over you’ve got $7 billion of of Amazon ad monies running through your tool. Lots of clients that are that are working on this with you. How does it work internationally? Tell it tell us about Kenshoo and how it can can rock it for these brands.

Kevin Weiss 26:57
Yeah, well, one quick clarification just to make Sure, 7 billion in ad spend a chrome search, local social apps and e-commerce. So while we’ve got some big goals, 7 billion, just the Amazon, we’re not there. But we’ll let you know we’ll throw a party when we do. But in terms of, you know, Kenshoo and how it works, right, we’re, we support over 2000 brands, we’ve got huge reach and scale on the partnerships that we’ve got all the way through Amazon, and the x Amazon that’s, that’s guiding a lot of our product decisions as well. We support the advertiser. And to do that, that means you need tools that operate at scale. When it comes to international markets, you need one platform instead of logging into each of those geographic market you eyes right so the user interface for Amazon advertising one market to the next and bouncing around with currency conversion, it can actually be a tremendous amount of Just simple administrative work to stay on top of and our platform really streamlines that. And so for the clients that work with us that are leveraging the platform, they’re actually getting a tremendous amount of cost savings and efficiency by being able to standardize and do things at scale through the platform. We also have all kinds of amazing optimization tools, other management tools to be running, rule based bidding, machine learning based bidding, to drive performance. We’ve got a budget navigator tools to do accurate pacing and tracking all kinds of dimensions and categories, so you can slice and dice. I mean, it’s just it’s just the best way to manage your Amazon advertising in general. But to be able to do it efficiently across all those international markets is a huge time saving, which for those who are selling internationally, you know, it’s a lot of work when you add one more market, one more market, one more market. You really need tools to help you stream on them.

Eric Stopper 29:07

And for Kenshoo somebody who wants to get started, trying it out just giving the first month of work into it, what’s the best way for them to use Kenshoo try it out and just start scaling?

Kevin Weiss 29:17
Yeah, well there’s a few ways and certainly you can reach out to us, we’ve got some different contact forms and you can also reach out to me as well make sure that we routed to the right place or we can pick up on a conversation from here. You can also work with Buy Box Experts and and take advantage of the ability to manage this at scale with with Kenshoo, you know, I should caveat you know, not for everybody. If you’re a really small spender, you’re only in one market and you’re not doing things at scale yet. You know, you might not be ready for the platform. But if you are operating at scale, you’ve got multiple marketplaces. You’ve got multiple brands larger catalog. You know, that’s that’s a really good use case for using us because it’s a really powerful tool. But you can work with us directly or you can work with us through Buy Box Experts. But a great place to start is checking out our website kenshoo.com or reaching out to me directly.

Eric Stopper 30:16
Go to kenshoo.com go and find them. We’ll put Kevin’s information in the show notes for this so that you can go and track them down and talk with him or a member of his team. Kevin, thank you so much for coming on the show.

Kevin Weiss 30:27
It’s great to be here. Thanks again, Eric. They’re going

Eric Stopper 30:30
To finish today’s podcast I want to share some final thoughts. For large brands who are seeking to wholesale product to a trusted Amazon reseller we Buy Box Experts are big fans of the team over at pattern. They’ve helped hundreds of large brands to capitalize on the Amazon channel while also helping implement channel governance best practices that allow the brands to have consistency across all their sales channels. For more information, go to patreon.com and reach out to their team there and they’ll be able to help you. We hope to see you soon on the Buy Box Experts podcast

Unknown Speaker 31:01
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