People all over the world are learning about the amazing opportunity to start a business selling on Amazon. And with Amazon’s FBA program, it’s easier than ever to start and grow a business that can offer financial freedom.
But sometimes it seems like US sellers are having all the fun. I’ve talked to many Canadians who lament that Amazon.ca just doesn’t measure up compared to Amazon.com in the US.
Let’s face it, online shopping is basically a way of life in the US. But up in Canada? Things just haven’t really taken off.
But there’s some good news for aspiring Amazon resellers in Canada. It’s now incredibly easy to sell on the large Amazon.com marketplace while living in Canada.
Whether you’re a brand new seller or you’re just tired of sluggish sales figures on Amazon.ca, I want to show you why it’s worth your time to start selling on Amazon.com from Canada. I’ll give you some tips for sourcing inventory without any border crossings and even share my favorite resource for Canadian sellers.
It’s time to share the love with Canada, so let’s get started! 🇨🇦
Amazon.com vs Amazon.ca for Canadian Sellers
Thanks to Amazon’s North America Unified Account, it’s now really simple for Canadians to sell in the US (Amazon.com) marketplace. With just one monthly Professional selling plan subscription, you can create listings for Amazon’s US, Canada, and Mexico marketplaces.
But even though it's really easy to set up, many Canadian sellers still limit themselves to selling on Amazon.ca. In my opinion, they're really missing out! Here are just some of the reasons why Canadians can make much more money by selling on Amazon.com.
Let’s start with the biggest benefit of selling on Amazon.com: the extremely large number of Amazon buyers in the US. Without even having to dig into the shopping numbers, population figures alone give us a pretty good sense of the marketplace sizes. In 2017, the population of the United States was 325 million. That’s over nine times more than Canada’s 35 million residents.
Some Canadian sellers may argue that Amazon.ca has less competition than Amazon.com and that you can charge higher prices. But if you're trying to grow your business long-term, the slight price difference isn’t enough to make up for the much smaller number of Canadian buyers. Even as online retail sales pick up in Canada, they’re still no match for the volume of online shoppers in the US.
Amazon does not break down its Prime members by country, but it recently reported having 100 million Prime members worldwide. Independent research groups estimate that roughly 80 million of those members are in the United States. That doesn’t leave that many Prime buyers to split between Amazon’s other North American and European marketplaces.
This is important because, as an FBA seller, Prime buyers are your best buyers. They’re the ones willing to pay extra for that free same-day or two-day shipping. And Prime members spend nearly twice as much money per year on Amazon than non-members.
So while it is of course possible to have sales in the Canadian marketplace, it’s much easier to build a full-time business by selling on the massive Amazon.com platform.
Seller Tools and Data
One of the benefits of having a Professional selling account over an Individual account is gaining access to third-party tools that use Amazon’s MWS. But many of these tools aren’t available on the Amazon.ca marketplace.
Inventory Lab and Scoutify do not currently support the Canadian marketplace. Some accounting tools like GoDaddy Bookkeeping also don’t work in non-US marketplaces. If you want access to the best tools, it’s best to have an Amazon.com Professional account.
Most Amazon data that’s relevant to FBA sellers is also US-specific. If you choose to sell on Amazon.ca, you’ll be starting from scratch with sales ranks. If you’ve ever seen US sellers sharing rank guidelines or Keepa charts from Amazon.com, those numbers will be meaningless for Amazon.ca.
Get Paid in US Dollars
For as long as the US dollar remains stronger than the Canadian dollar, it’s always good to be paid in US currency. Also, consider that many of your expenses will be in USD, so your payments may as well be in USD too.
Amazon offers an optional currency converter that will automatically convert your USD earnings into CAD for deposit into a Canadian bank account. This option is convenient but comes with pretty high exchange rate fees that can add up over time.
Some Canadian sellers opt to set up a US bank account instead so that they can receive deposits in USD. Once you have your sales earnings in your US account, you can then transfer funds to your Canadian accounts (likely at a much better rate than the one offered by Amazon).
Where to Find Inventory in Canada
Hopefully you’re sold on the benefits of selling on Amazon.com from Canada. But now there’s the issue of finding inventory to buy in Canada that you can sell in the US. Luckily, you can source inventory in Canada without having to grab your passport.
Most Canadian sellers use Online Arbitrage (OA) for their sourcing. With OA, you look for products online that can then be resold on Amazon.
There are many benefits to online arbitrage for Canadian sellers (and US sellers, too!)
- It’s a little cliche, but you can do this in your PJs! OA is great for busy sellers who don’t have time to hit the stores for Retail Arbitrage and prefer to work from home. Want to do some sourcing at midnight? With OA, that’s no problem!
- The world is your oyster! Without the limitations of driving to physical stores, you can shop from hundreds of websites worldwide.
- You can buy larger quantities of items at once. Even though it’s always good to start with a small test buy, OA allows you to quickly load up on fast-selling replenishables.
Now, if you’re new to OA, it’s not quite as simple as going to Walmart.com, clicking on random items, and loading up your cart. In fact, doing so would be very time-consuming! (And probably not very profitable!)
But because Online Arbitrage is such a popular business model, there are now incredible tools that make online sourcing so much easier and faster.
My favorite OA tool is Source Mogul, a website that compares products from popular websites to Amazon and finds profitable items that are perfect for reselling. You give Source Mogul your buying criteria (like profit, ROI, and sales rank) and it returns a list of matching products.
I have a video that shows exactly how it works (plus a link to a free 10-day trial!) if you’re interested in learning more about Source Mogul for Online Arbitrage. You can check out the video here.
Buying direct from wholesalers and suppliers is another great way for Canadians to find inventory to sell on Amazon.
Wholesale is best if you have more money to spend upfront on buying inventory, but it’s not as expensive as you’d think. Many suppliers now have very reasonable minimum purchase requirements.
Wholesale requires additional work upfront as you research profitable suppliers and products, but it can really pay off down the line. Once you’ve found a couple of products that sell quickly, you can go back and reorder them 20, 50, or 100 at a time.
We have some former Amazon Boot Camp students who have gone on to turn wholesale sourcing into a multi-million dollar Amazon business. If you want to learn more about wholesale, you can read Dan and Eric’s story here.
I’m a big fan of Retail Arbitrage for new Amazon sellers. You don’t need much money to start, it’s easy to understand, and you can find products locally with amazing ROI.
With the weakened Canadian dollar, you can probably find some deals in Canadian retail stores that can be flipped for a solid profit on Amazon.com. Or, if you’re close to the border, you could even shop in retail stores in the US.
But even though I love Retail Arbitrage, it’s not my top pick for international Amazon FBA sellers. That’s because you’d have to find a way to ship your inventory from Canada to a US Amazon fulfillment center. This is possible (more on that later), but can get expensive.
How to Ship Inventory from Canada to Amazon.com Warehouses
Whatever sourcing methods you choose, you do need to find a way to get your inventory to Amazon’s FBA fulfillment centers.
It’s important to note that even if you have a North America Unified Account with both .ca and .com listings, the FBA programs are completely separate. If you are listing on Amazon.com, you have to send your items to Amazon warehouses in the United States.
If you’re sourcing online, it can get pretty expensive for you to pack up all your products and ship them across the border to US fulfillment centers. Doing so won’t give you access to Amazon’s discounted partnered shipping rates with UPS and FedEx.
To work around this limitation, most Canadian resellers partner with one or more prep and ship companies (often referred to as prep centers). Prep centers are companies that specialize in receiving, prepping, packaging, and shipping inventory to Amazon fulfillment centers.
Each company will have slight differences, but in general, the workflow looks something like this:
- You order items via OA or wholesale from your home
- You have the products shipped to your US-based prep center
- The prep center received and inspects your products (you may communicate here through a shared Google Sheet or Dropbox)
- Once you have enough items for a shipment, you and your prep center will work together to create listings, product labels, and shipping labels
- When all the prepping and listing is done, the prep center boxes up your items, applies the shipping labels (purchased at the discounted Amazon partnered shipping rate), and ships your items to the assigned Amazon warehouses
Even US sellers doing OA and wholesale love prep centers because it allows them to scale their businesses more quickly. Besides, who doesn’t want to eliminate the tedious steps of unpacking, prepping, and repacking your items!
Most prep centers charge a reasonable per-item fee to do this service. A standard rate seems to be between $1.50 and $2.00USD per item. Some may charge one-time setup fees or charge extra for boxes and poly bags. Most charge extra fees for packaging bundles and multi-packs.
If you’re interested in using a prep center, start reaching out to some right away! Some are so popular that they may have to temporarily close to new clients. Certain prep centers may have certain restrictions like they only accept single-item quantities greater than 20. Others won’t process used items like books or liquidation items that are more likely to be damaged.
Contact a few different companies and make sure you know their full fees and any limitations they may have. You may also choose a prep center that is located in a tax-free state. In these states (Delaware, Montana, New Hampshire, and Oregon), you won’t ever have to pay sales tax on your online purchases. This could save you as much as 10%!
If you do retail arbitrage or choose not to work with a prep and ship company, there are other ways to import items into the US from Canada:
- Shipping items yourself via a major courier
- Self-importing by vehicle at a Commercial Border Crossing
- Using a broker service
All of these options require an extensive knowledge of the proper fees, tariffs, and forms. If you are looking for a hassle-free way to sell on Amazon.com from Canada, I definitely recommend using a prep center.
Get Ready to Grow Your Business
As a US-based seller, I have a pretty limited knowledge of the ins and outs of selling on Amazon.com as a Canadian. There’s a lot I couldn’t cover here about bank accounts, import restrictions, and legal issues.
If you’re serious about starting your FBA business, I highly recommend learning all the details from an experienced Canada-based Amazon seller.
My friend Duncan Macpherson has published a very detailed ebook called “How to Sell on Amazon.com from Canada.” He wrote this book based on his own experiences selling on Amazon to help other Canadians learn how to profit off of the US marketplace.
Duncan started out by selling on the Canadian marketplace but he quickly realized that it would be very difficult to create a full-time income there. In his ebook, he covers everything you need to know to start selling on Amazon.com from Canada.
Even if you’ve never sold a thing on Amazon, Duncan will show you how to get started. He has tips on how to save money on your Professional selling plan fee, suggestions for maximizing the exchange rate, and detailed information about border crossings and retail arbitrage.
When you purchase a copy of his ebook from this link, you also get these bonuses:
- Pro Tips to save you time and money
- A list of OA websites and tools for Canadians
- A list of prep centers to contact
- Access to a private Facebook Group of over 4,500 other Canadian sellers
- Video training about creating your first Private Label product
- Samples of completed forms for importing items into the US
Grab your ebook today and you’ll be successfully sourcing in no time!
I’d love to hear from Canadians who are ready to start out on Amazon or expand from the .ca marketplace into .com. Share your experiences and questions in the comments below!
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