Catalyst EU 2015: Cross Border Trade
There was a really interesting session at ChannelAdvisor Catalyst – the Cross Border Trade Panel. Marc Vicente of Rakuten Europe, Hamish Macdonald of TradeMe and Sophia Tsao of Newegg Marketplace were grilled by Jordan Weinstein, Managing Director, EMEA at ChannelAdvisor.
The aim was to showcase just three of the 40 odd marketplaces that ChannelAdvisor work with. I hadn’t realised quite how many viable marketplaces around the world that ChannelAdvisor now support – they’re working hard to ensure their retailers can market to just about every corner of the planet.
Jumping right to the end of the presentation, the difference between the three companies was stark when they were asked how retailers could get started on their marketplaces. Hamish instantly told people to simply email him at email@example.com, although he also suggested speaking to him during the event or talking to your ChannelAdvisor contact.
Sophia told delegates to get in touch by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org but Rakuten simply suggested visiting their stand at Catalyst, which is great if you were there and had time to have a meaningful conversation on the day, but if you missed them it’s not that helpful.
The three different responses to this final question seemed to reflect their attitudes throughout the panel session and here’s my thoughts on what they had to say:
TradeMe appear to really want your business. They started off as a 2nd hand goods marketplace and are working hard to become a general marketplace for new goods.
TradeMe have some 3.6 million accounts and over 760,000 people visit TradeMe on a daily basis. That’s a pretty incredible market penetration, New Zealand only has a population of 4.4 million so just about everyone uses TradeMe.
Whilst naturally products under 2kg which can be shipped via Royal Mail are the easiest to sell on TradeMe for UK merchants, if your products don’t fit that profile still consider the marketplace, especially bearing in mind they’re in the southern hemisphere and so your end of season products in the UK will be in season in New Zealand.
TradeMe say that they’re trading terms are designed to appeal to UK eBay and Amazon sellers, importantly prices are relatively high which helps margins as there’s limited competition and you don’t need to set up a legal nexus or have any tax status in New Zealand. TradeMe are very specific and tell their buyers that they’re responsible for all import duties, although even there New Zealand has a relatively generous import limit of $400 before taxes are due.
Newegg was once a pure play retailer, but they added a third party marketplace and haven’t looked back since. With over 25 million registered customers and a turn over well in excess of $2.8 billion, Newegg have sites in the US, UK, Ireland, The Netherlands, Australia, New Zealand Poland and Singapore, as well as an established Global Seller program.
The good news is that apart from completing a W8 Form (companies are required to fill in this form before they can receive money in the USA), you shouldn’t find it too difficult to get started sell on Newegg.
Newegg also have a business to business site in addition to their consumer orientated offering. Plus as many of their sites are run in the English language it should be a fairly simple opportunity to take advantage of.
I got the impression that Rakuten is still operating a fairly fragmented set of marketplaces and have a lot of work to get done before they’re a unified global offering. Rakuten in Spain and the UK are now on their new Global platform, but Germany and France are yet to follow suit.
Germany is definitely a market sellers considering Rakuten should be interested in, but unfortunately you need to establish a business presence in Germany before you can trade on the site, which makes the barrier to entry quite high.
Whilst plans are in place to migrate France’s Priceminister to the new Rakuten platform, I got the impression that this is some way off in the future and probably won’t be for a year or so.
I was hoping there’d be some enthusiasm for the new Rakuten.co.uk site which has replaced Play.com, and whilst it’s obvious the investment in the site has been huge and is ongoing, there was no shout out to retailers that they’re open and ready to welcome merchants with open arms to Rakuten in the UK. Maybe I got the wrong impression, if you spoke to Rakuten at Catalyst we love to hear from you.
Whilst the panel consisted of just three marketplaces from around the world, it was a great sample showing just how easy it can be to target different countries. Yes there are always problems, even on a marketplace as open to UK sellers as TradeMe there are shipping difficulties to consider. For closer countries such as the EU and of course US sites there may be legal and/or language barriers. However the attraction of less competition, higher selling prices and an incremental uplift in your turnover it’s hard to not take a serious look at these overseas marketplaces. Plus of course the guys at ChannelAdvisor are there to assist you to get started if you’re one of their clients.
Yes, Rakuten is still not top of my next to do list, but still I’ll keep it in my sights. It is a potentially massive market for all sellers so worth commenting on what needs to be done rather than the positives of the other two, TradeMe (let’s go – no barriers) and NewEgg (let’s investigate and go).
As Chris Millar of Weblegs said to me at the event, ‘it’s all about the tech’, and in this case my opinion is the tech is not yet there for Rakuten, ie one uniform Euro seller platform. Also, if I can sell on Amazon in Germany (big market) without a DE entity and VAT reg then pls Rakuten, remove these obstacles. BTW, there was nobody at their stand when I went to there after the John King talk.