The guest for this episode is Jonny Steel, the VP of marketing for Payoneer. Payoneer is the leading B2B cross-border payment platform that helps business pay or get paid. They’re also Amazon’s trusted payment platform. He is here today to help us sell on Amazon US.
Jonny is a Londoner born and bred. He started out studying Law and ended up with a Masters in War Studies. In some ways that was good training for the world of eCommerce. He’s been at Payoneer for the last 3 years.
Jonny’s first experience in eCommerce was 15 years ago. He was fresh out of university when he worked for a company called MySupermarket.com. It was a comparison website of grocery products and prices. He has experience in FinTech or financial technology, which is one of the fastest growing areas in the startup world as a new generation of technologies are coming online helping people to run their businesses.
Payoneer is one of these. Despite being 12 years old, it still feels like a startup. In fact, one of Payoneer’s goals is to make sure that however big they get, they don’t get corporate. They have a drive to always understand their customers and maintain agility and responsiveness to deliver what people want and need.
Payoneer is there to help connect Amazon sellers with more opportunities in other countries. For example, they’re keen to help British Amazon sellers bridge the gap and sell on Amazon US, or to Germany, French and Italian consumers. However, they’re not purely Amazon focused. They also connect the same sellers with platforms and opportunities in other markets, such as Lazada in South East Asia, Linio in Latin America or CDiscount in France.
Brand Britain is the uniqueness that UK sellers have. British sellers are quite blasé about it but in actual fact when you step out of the country, there’s a lot of respect given towards British brands and British manufacturing. Because of that, there’s an opportunity for sellers to play up their Brand Britain credentials.
One example is Orchard Toys, a brand that makes games and toys for children. This brand sells extremely well in the US on Amazon.com and the packaging has a large Union Jack. It has an association for US consumers with being a little more intelligent or more advanced or well made because it’s a British brand. There is a perception of value for consumers in other countries, even if British consumers don’t see it.
There are so many people who are doing well on Amazon UK who haven’t branched out to sell on Amazon US yet. Your product doesn’t actually have to be manufactured in Britain to get this perceived value. Even saying ‘designed in the UK’ gives it an edge and more of a brand identity. It’s not just the US where this has an impact.
Jonny says to keep an eye on China because it’s a huge opportunity and it will continue to grow. There are Chinese consumers out there very interested in Brand Britain or Made in the US products. In fact, there are opportunities all over the world for this.
If you’re a UK seller and looking for your next challenge, you have two directions. One is to head over the ocean to the US and the other side is to go closer to home to Europe. Making the jump to sell on Amazon US is an easier jump to make. You don’t have any language barrier. However, it does seem that there is a tendency to go to Europe because it’s so close. If you’ve got the right products and package them up in the right way and brand them in the right way, you can be successful in either direction.
The pound is weak now, which has scared a lot of people. But if you’re exporting it’s actually a fantastic time and a huge opportunity that many people are overlooking.
Payoneer does believe that it is a long-term trend that the world is becoming more borderless. It’s counterintuitive. If you tune into the TV news, you will hear Presidents and Prime Ministers talking about building walls and focusing on buying local. There is a lot of rhetoric, and there are certainly trends there. However, the reality is that as a consumer you can feel equally as comfortable buying from virtually anywhere in the world now. There is a huge opportunity for sellers.
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Business owners are selling on Amazon India. Now they’re ready to start selling cross-border and branching out into other Amazon stores. For us in the UK, eCommerce is now an absolute given. However, there are still many countries in the world that are 5-20 years behind in terms of eCommerce penetration. But those markets are catching up very quickly. This is both in consumer population and exporter population. There is no stopping this trend. There will be more and more buyers and sellers all over the world interested in doing business with each other.
Many Americans have never traveled outside of the US. Their perception of the UK is formulated by what they consume in the media. They definitely have an extremely strong inclination towards British culture. They love the history and they’re very into our royals. Will and Kate, Monty Python, the Beatles, Coldplay, Elton John, The Rolling Stones, Adele, James Bond, Simon Cowell, James Corden, Downton Abbey. They’re all very popular in the US.
That ‘special relationship’ that Prime Ministers and Presidents have spoken a lot about in the past actually exists on a cultural level. There is just as much obsession in the UK for US-made products and entertainment too. There is a lot to play with here to proudly present a brand as British. Even if there isn’t anything that is uniquely British about it other than the fact that the owners of the business and the designers who have conceptually come up with the brand are based in Britain. That identity can give you the edge when selling on Amazon US.
If you need help with this concept or are looking to take your business to the next level, check out my Zero to Hero London Mastermind program where you can learn from experts, all the ins and outs of selling on Amazon. Don’t hesitate as space is limited.