amazon-germany

Why Amazon Germany is a desirable market and how your customer support becomes an idea machine

Why Amazon Germany is a desirable market and how your customer support becomes an idea machine

Why Amazon Germany is a desirable market and how your customer support becomes an idea machine

By Manuel Becvar
By Manuel Becvar

Table of Contents

Introduction

Hey folks,

This blog post is from a friend of mine who I met twice in Germany already. Her name is Nadine and last year she set out to create the only Amazon customer support based in Germany for your expanding eCommerce business. The site is called ENIDA – check it out!

Whether you are selling in the UK, IT, ES, FR, the US or in Germany, Enida takes care of your customers and has your best interest at heart. Their focus is on delivering stellar service so your customers will recommend your brand to other potential customers (friends & family).

And the best thing: Due to their internal “replacement” system you no longer have to worry about filling in for your staff on the weekend or during holidays. Enida has got you covered.

Onto today’s blog post: 

Disclaimer: Some of the products may contain an affiliate link and we may make a commission if you click on it at no additional costs to you.

An ode to customer support

First off, let’s talk about customer support and its perceived image around the world. I admit it is not the sexiest job in the world but it can be very, very beneficial for your eCommerce business.

For most business owners customer support is the last thing they think about. It is solely something they have to do once customers notice the company. Funnily enough, most business owners hire customer support last. It’s a huge  pain. It only wastes money. Sadly though, the majority ignore the potential benefits you get when you focus on what your customers have to say.

Here’s a big welcome to the business owners who run eCommerce businesses and want to explore how customer support can open doors for new possibilities. 

In the following paragraphs, we are going to look at a general perspective on customer support and then move deeper into European and German customer support along the way. Let’s get started in finding out out what your customers want and what they would potentially buy.

Start to listen and build a customer FAQ

There has been no function more important for the growth of a company than its support. I know, you think that is a myth. But I can assure you it’s not. Working closely with customers pays off, especially when you empower your support staff allowing them to make decisions, set up an FAQ and thereby cut their customer interaction in half. When your support staff pays attention, you know what will sell and what won’t. And if you treat your customers right, you can send out a newsletter and even ask them, whether they would rather buy the new product in blue or orange – or purple?

If your product often requires an additional explanation, let your staff make a list with frequent problems and questions. You can then design a product inlay that will enable the customers to help themselves. After all, the best support is no support.

Therefore: use your support team to better understand your customers problems, which features of the product could be improved upon and how the process could run more smoothly. Based on this information you can raise the customer experience to the next level.

So: the more customers have a great experience and don’t require a contacting support, the happier they will be. Now let’s move on to the next question.

Is European customer support any different from the rest of the world?

The simple answer is yes. We are quite spoiled here in Europe – especially in Germany and the UK. And since I am running a German customer support agency, that also covers English speaking customers, I am going to focus on the German market now. 

Germans, as you may have already heard, are always on time. Therefore, we like things to be done quickly and precisely. Also we can find it rather rude if you don’t speak our language and try to get by with Google Translate. 

So, in a nutshell: we are picky. We want to be treated like VIPs. But Germans also love consuming: out of around 80.5 million Germans, 44 million own an Amazon account and use it on a regular basis! Over 50%! Therefore, the European (German) market is not something you should just ignore. Like one seller said during a recent podcast I was in: “If you are not selling in Germany yet, you’re an idiot.”

Exactly. 

Herewith I want to help you get a better understanding of the German customers – after all this is my area of expertise. So in the following section, I will answer some common questions that sellers ask me on a regular basis.

Can’t I just use google translate?

No and if you do: stop it immediately. I know you might think that it’s not a big deal, but if you don’t speak a second language, you have no idea how bad the translation actually is. If you are serious about selling in Germany, if you want to build up your brand and make a lasting impression: get a German native speaker and add it to your support team. Especially Germans are very picky about this. As I have pointed out, over 50% of the German population is using Amazon and they expect you to speak their language. This also includes your listings.

Can I just use any German freelancer?

In theory, you could. But I advise you to at least know one German person who can look over their work. Why? Because Germans also make silly mistakes and typos can happen as well. If you pay for it, you better get flawless German. Get what I am saying? At Enida we have regular quality checks to make sure everyone is doing their job properly.

Can my listings just be in English?

Don’t do that. Seriously, don’t. Grab some money and get a good German copywriter or a translator to take care of your listing. After all, 44 million Germans browse and they compare. If you look at a product on Amazon in Spanish (because the Mexican seller didn’t bother to translate it) or a listing in broken English, would you think the product is a high quality product? Go figure.

Obviously, there are several translation services out there. Go get one that will help you optimize the listing even AFTER you have paid money for your PPC campaigns. For this reason, Enida runs their own translation service to help you get the best out of your listing: Enida Translations

Reach out to us and we will help you asap!

In the meanwhile, these are the main questions I get asked by foreign sellers. If you have any more, just send us a message at hello@enida.de and we will answer them swiftly.

Now: are you ready to tackle the German market?

Germany, as the second largest Amazon marketplace after the US, is the heart of the European Amazon battlefield. It might all sound complicated to you now, but once you have set up your system, it will run as smoothly as your current Amazon business. Therefore, we suggest starting with Germany and the UK and then expanding to all other European marketplaces.

If you are unsure whether you are ready for the German market, head over to Enida, click on the “English” button and sign up for our “6 Must Knows before you get into the German market!” Or, just click here to sign up and download the PDF.

After all, half of Germany’s population is waiting for you and with good product listings and hands on native customer support, there is far less to worry about. Obviously, there are also European taxes to consider but I won’t get into that for now. Because we know the right people to help you out there too. 

In case you are interested in Enida or Enida Translations, please make sure to mention “importdojo” – this will get you a discount.

Bis bald! Cheers!

Nadine

Founder Enida

www.enida.de

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Acounting VAT

Selling Online and Expanding into Europe – Here’s What You Need To Know About VAT

Selling Online and Expanding into Europe – Here’s What You Need To Know About VAT

Selling Online and Expanding into Europe – Here’s What You Need To Know About VAT

By Manuel Becvar
By Manuel Becvar

Table of Contents

Introduction

This is a guest post by Claire Taylor from SimplyVAT.com. I met her last month in Hong Kong & Shenzhen at conferences around selling online and AmazonFBA. When she told me that she works for SimplyVAT I knew I had to have her on as a guest on my blog with a piece about VAT in Europe and how to handle the VAT as an international (or local) seller.

So without further ado, here is Claire’s blog post:

With 71% of shoppers believing they will get a better deal online than in stores, it is no surprise that the global ecommerce industry has developed at a breakneck pace – worldwide B2C ecommerce sales amounted to more than £18 trillion in 2016.

Cross border sales are expected to account for 20% of these sales in 2017, giving online retailers a huge opportunity to increase profits by tapping into overseas markets. You no longer need to conquer your local market before you contemplate world domination; you can operate a successful global business straight away. This new global reach means many issues can catch out the unwary retailer – both new and the more established.

Your international VAT obligations

Online retailers need to understand which international VAT laws will be relevant to your business. Just because your business is online, normal societal rules of taxation still govern it. In this blog, we provide you with:

  • What do you need to think about?

  • What exactly are the different VAT rules and regulations?

  • What do you need to do to ensure you are VAT compliant?

  • And what happens if you don’t comply?

Disclaimer: Some of the products may contain an affiliate link and we may make a commission if you click on it at no additional costs to you.

What is Value Added Tax (VAT)

Value Added Tax (VAT) is the preferred transactional tax model in the EU and is equivalent of the USA sales tax. It differs from sales tax though as it is applied every time value is added– from the raw material supplier, to the manufacturer to the wholesaler and retailer and finally to the end consumer.

Caffeine Molecular Formula

Governments get revenue every step of the supply chain. It is not supposed to be a burden on businesses, who, once VAT registered, can offset any VAT collected on sales against any VAT incurred on expenditure – including import VAT. The burden rests with the final consumer, and it is for this reason, the EU tax authorities are focusing on catching non-compliant online retailers – the VAT charged on sales to private consumers is revenue the tax authority gets to keep.

What Are the EU VAT Rules That Affect Online Retailers?

How you choose to distribute your goods to your customers will have VAT implications for you as the seller. Here we explain which issues affect you:

  1. Import VAT is applied at the first port of entry into the EU – local import VAT will be charged on the cost value of the goods you are importing, for example, in the UK the import VAT is at 20%.

If you are not VAT registered, your customer is usually left to pay the import charges before they can receive delivery of the goods. This is not really the best customer experience.

If you have an EU EORI (Economic Operator Registration Identification) number (issued by the EU customs authorities) and are VAT registered, you will account for the import VAT:

  • You charge the customer the VAT when they buy the goods from your online store so there are no unpleasant surprises for them on delivery. This is paid over to the tax authority on the VAT return.

  • The import VAT charged is refunded to you via the local VAT return.

  1. Using Fulfilment Centres in the European Union

  • Wherever your stock is held, whether it be an Amazon fulfilment centre or another third party warehouse – as a non-resident of that country – you now have an obligation to VAT register there. There are no thresholds to exceed.

  • If your stock is in fulfilment centres in several EU countries, you will require VAT registrations in each of the countries where your stock is held.

  1. The EU VAT Distance Selling Rules

Once you are VAT registered in one EU country, sales delivered from that country to local private customers or customers in other EU countries are governed by the EU VAT distance selling rules. These rules state that local VAT is charged on any sales to any consumers within Europe until the set distance selling thresholds are exceeded in any one country.

The Distance Selling rules do give you a chance to test the European markets without the heavy cost of compliance.

  1. Monitoring Your Sales

  • When calculating whether you have exceeded the threshold, make sure you add sales from EACH channel you sell on – all sales go towards the distance selling thresholds.

  1. Also include the shipping amount in the calculation.

If you are selling medium to high value goods, it won’t take much for you to breach the threshold in many of the EU countries.

  1. Other Reporting Obligations

  • EC Sales Lists

When stock is sold, or transferred between EU countries, there is additional reporting obligation to file an EC Sales List. For example, if stock is moved from the UK warehouse to a German warehouse, this will need to be reported on an EC Sales List as well as the UK VAT return. This is particularly relevant when using Amazon’s Pan-EU service as stock is moved, by Amazon, on your behalf between 7 different EU countries. (Also note using Amazon’s Pan-EU service triggers VAT registrations in those 7 countries – Germany, France, Italy, Spain, UK, Czech Republic and Poland).

  • Intrastat Declarations

Intrastat Declarations are statistical reports that are obligatory once set intrastate thresholds are exceeded in each EU country. There are thresholds for both ‘dispatches’ and ‘arrivals’. See below table:

Intrastat Reporting Thresholds

Country

Currency

Arrivals

Dispatches

Austria

EUR

750,000

750,000

Belgium

EUR

1,500,000

1,000,000

Bulgaria

BGN

410,000

240,000

Croatia

HRK

1,800,000

900,000

Cyprus

EUR

100,000

55,000

Czech Republic

CZK

8,000,000

8,000,000

Denmark

DKK

6,000,000

4,700,000

Estonia

EUR

200,000

130,000

Finland

EUR

550,000

500,000

France

EUR

460,000

More than 460,000: detailed Intrastat; Less than 460,000: simplified Intrastat

Germany

EUR

800,000

500,000

Greece

EUR

150,000

90,000

Hungary

HUF

100,000,000

100,000,000

Ireland

EUR

500,000

635,000

Italy

EUR

More than 50,000: monthly Intrastat (EC Purchase listing); Less than 50,000: quarterly Intrastat (EC Purchase listing)

More than 50,000: monthly Intrastat (EC Sales listing); Less than 50,000: quarterly Intrastat (EC Sales listing)

Latvia

EUR

180,000

130,000

Lithuania

EUR

280,000

200,000

Luxembourg

EUR

200,000

150,000

Malta

EUR

700

700

Netherlands

EUR

1,000,000

1,200,000

Poland

PLN

3,000,000

1,500,000

Portugal

EUR

350,000

250,000

Romania

RON

500,000

900,000

Slovak Republic

EUR

200,000

400,000

Slovenia

EUR

120,000

200,000

Spain

EUR

400,000

400,000

Sweden

SEK

9,000,000

4,500,000

UK

GBP

1,500,000

250,000

The information produced is for general guidelines only. More specific information, please contact info@simplyvat.com

The information is correct at the 1st January 2017

You will need to monitor sales (dispatches), for example, from the UK to any EU countries, once these ‘dispatches’ reach £250,000, intrastat declarations will need to be filed.

  1. Fiscal Representation – as non-EU company, some EU countries require a non-EU business to have Fiscal Representation. A Fiscal Representative is jointly and severely liable for the VAT owed, and because of this risk, there are additional fees associated which can include a bank guarantee. An option for non-EU companies, to avoid these costs, is to set up an EU company. If an EU company is established there will, however, be other reporting requirements such as a Confirmation Statement and Annual Accounts, however, it is a matter of doing the sums and calculating whether these costs will outweigh the cost of fiscal representation in the countries you will have VAT compliance exposure.

Countries such as France, Italy and Poland, amongst many others, require non-EU companies to have a Fiscal Representative in place.

  1. Penalties and Fines for Non-VAT Compliance

Ignorance of the VAT rules is no defence. Not accounting for VAT properly or not reporting it at all can cost you your business.

The tax authorities are becoming much more proactive in hunting down non-compliant online sellers as, I mentioned previously, the tax authorities get to keep the VAT revenue collected from online sales.

Recently, the marketplace – Amazon.de – was approached by the German tax authority to provide seller data, and they had to hand it over. At Amazon.fr, Amazon are now obliged to issue each seller with sales through Amazon.fr, with an Annual Summary detailing their sales and potential VAT exposure there; and in the UK, from committed lobbying by UK sellers to close the competition gap from non-compliant, non-EU sellers, the UK tax authority has issued new rules to make the marketplaces and fulfilment centres responsible for their client’s compliance. HMRC now has the power to make Amazon close your store down within 30 days if you are not VAT compliant.

Once caught, the tax authorities will issue penalties and interest charges for late or non-compliance. Is it worth the worry, not to comply?

Don’t let VAT be a barrier to your European expansion plans

Our advice is to plan ahead. Add the cost of VAT compliance to your cashflow along with other staples such as web-hosting or accountancy fees. Understanding the cost of entering a foreign market will ensure your international business will thrive!

It can sound daunting, we understand you don’t have the luxury of a tax department to make sure you are staying ahead of the game, but please don’t be put off by the VAT rules, we are here to help and at www.simplyvat.com we understand the struggles of an entrepreneur.

  • We provide an expert, friendly and customer focused service

  • We can ensure you are VAT compliant across Europe and elsewhere where local laws are applicable such as Canada.

  • We can give you the right country-specific VAT compliance information to make sure your invoices are correct.

  • We can make your VAT compliance experience as painless as possible through our new online VAT compliance platform.

  • We can get you VAT registered, obtain an EORI number for you; prepare and submit your VAT return, and, if necessary, file your EC Sales Lists and intrastat declarations on time.

  • We monitor your distance sales from your multi-channel locations to ensure you stay compliant.

At http://www.SimplyVAT.com We Are Here To Help…. You Sleep At Night..

If you want to know more, please email heretohelp@simplyvat.com or laura.vanstone@simplyvat.com to discuss how we can help you with your international expansion plans.

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Read More »

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Sign up for ImporDojo and get our free eBook “The Import Bible” – the complete starter guide to importing from China. As well as updates on blog posts and news around the eCommerce world. We’ll never spam and you can unsubscribe any time – its FREE to subscribe! 

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