Episode 8 – How to Break into the Amazon US Marketplace as a Non-US Citizen with Richard Greenup
Learn how Australian native Richard Greenup became a 7-figure seller in the American Amazon marketplace and his advice for international sellers wanting to expand into the US market!
Helium 10’s Success Manager Bradley Sutton and Richard have been friends for a few years now, having met in the ZonSquad (now called Brand Owners by SixLeaf) Facebook group. Not only does Richard have an interesting success story, but it’s also an inspirational one that may feel familiar to many sellers out there.
Richard did NOT come from a vast amount of wealth or invent the latest great tech company; Richard comes from the corporate world and was looking for a chance to enhance his life and gain more control over his future, much like many other sellers on Amazon.
The difference with Richard is that he is an Australian living in Brazil who sells predominantly in the Amazon US marketplace. For many sellers who are not American citizens, selling in the American marketplace as a foreigner seems like a daunting thought. However, Richard says that in today’s technological world, it’s not as hard as one may think.
In episode 8 of the Serious Sellers Podcast, Bradley and Richard discuss his beginnings as an Amazon seller and the mistakes made along the way to find success, including:
- What Prompted Richard to Start Selling on the Amazon US Marketplace
- Richard’s Rough Start in the American Amazon Marketplace
- Transitioning from Corporate Management to Selling on Amazon
- What’s the Process of Starting a Business on Amazon US For Non-Americans?
- What Hardships Did you Face as a Foreigner Trying to Sell in the Amazon US Marketplace?
- Richard’s Process for Shipping Products to Amazon US
- The Worst Mistake Richard Made Selling on Amazon
- Lessons Learned About Review Manipulation on Amazon
- Richard’s Nightmare with Hong Kong Customs
- Surprise $200,000 Success on Prime Day
- Tips for Starting an Amazon Business on Amazon US From Outside the USA
- Contacting Richard for Amazon Help
Enjoy this episode? Be sure to check out our previous episodes for even more content to propel you to Amazon FBA Seller success! And don’t forget to “Like” our Facebook page and subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, Google Play or wherever you listen to our podcast.
Want to absolutely start crushing it on Amazon? Here are few carefully curated resources to get you started:
- Freedom Ticket: Taught by Amazon thought leader Kevin King, get A-Z Amazon strategies and techniques for establishing and solidifying your business.
- Ultimate Resource Guide: Discover the best tools and services to help you dominate on Amazon.
- Helium 10: 20+ software tools to boost your entire sales pipeline from product research to customer communication and Amazon refund automation. Make running a successful Amazon business easier with better data and insights. See what our customers have to say.
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Bradley Sutton: Today, learn from a seller from Australia who became a seven figure seller in the United States. And the advice he has for foreigners who want to break into the American market. Learn about this as well as a lot of his mistakes. And even he’ll tell us about a pub in Australia where all you need is underwear to get in.
Bradley Sutton: How’s it going guys? Welcome to another episode of the Serious Sellers Podcast by Helium 10. This is Bradley Sutton, your host. And today I’ve got a friend of mine here, Richard, joining me. Him and I have been together on a certain mastermind group on Facebook for the last couple of years that used to be called ZonSquad. What’s the name of it now?
Richard Greenup: BrandOwners by SixLeaf.
Bradley Sutton: That’s right. So if you guys want to be on that mastermind group, you can apply, you know, to be there. BrandOwners by SixLeaf. But that’s how we originally met. Now Richard, how’s it going today?
Richard Greenup: Well thanks Brad. How are you mate?
Bradley Sutton:I’m doing good. So from your accent, I’m assuming you’re from Texas, right?
Richard Greenup: Yeah, down under.
Bradley Sutton: Down under. Alright, so from Australia. So that’s kinda like why I wanted to bring you on, because I remember, you know, reading about your story in our little mastermind group, and you’re actually, you know, from Australia. But while you were living there, you started a profitable business in Amazon USA. Is that correct?
Richard Greenup: Yup, that’s correct.
Bradley Sutton: Okay. So there’s a lot of people out there, maybe in other countries, whether it’s Australia, whether it’s in Germany, you know, whether it’s in Japan. And of course Amazon USA is the number one market. So a lot of people are interested in selling on that market. So I’d like to talk to you a little bit about your journey on how as a foreigner you were able to sell on Amazon USA and maybe some advice for other sellers. So first of all, what got you interested in the first place for Amazon USA?
Richard Greenup: Kind of like, why not? So that was the question where you really asked. It’s like you said, it’s the biggest market. And we thought, well, let’s try and be a small fish in a big market to start with. That was our logic.
Bradley Sutton: Okay, so were you already–did you already have physical products like were you already selling in Australia or were you completely starting from scratch?
Richard Greenup: So yeah, now we produce the products in China and shipped them to America and it was completely–that was it completely off the bat and everything landed in America and that’s where it started.
Bradley Sutton: So you didn’t have an existing business in Australia were you had like a shop or something that your selling products and you’re like, “Hey, I want to sell this stuff in Amazon USA.” You just started from scratch and was like your first venture into selling these products was Amazon.
Richard Greenup: Correct, yeah completely from scratch man.
Bradley Sutton: Ah, okay. That’s interesting. So, did you hit a home run on your first product or did it take a couple of times?
Richard Greenup: First product was a dud. Second product was pretty good. Just a bit smaller in terms of volume and price point. And then the third product was misdesigned. So we redesigned it and that fourth product was a beast and it took off.
Bradley Sutton: Awesome, awesome. So like what was your top selling year like? Have you reached six figures or?
Richard Greenup: I’m a seven figure seller.
Bradley Sutton: Seven figure seller. So, seven figures seller from Australia. Actually, now you’re living where?
Richard Greenup: I’m currently in Brazil.
Bradley Sutton: See that’s the life right there. You make all this money in Amazon. Hey, I’m going to go live in paradise for a little bit. That’s really cool. So your story’s kind of inspiring. Now did you have like some kind of special ability, like you were a marketing genius, you were an independent millionaire who had unlimited funds to invest in order to start your business or what would you say?
Richard Greenup: Business partner and I really just came from corporate management. So yeah. We just knew systems so to speak and research. So for example like you want to go, you know–shameless plug, but we read the Helium 10 blog and the SixLeaf blog. So, now, we knew from our background where to go to find good information. We filtered the right people to get the information both in person and online. So for us it’s really like resource assimilation and then critiquing certain situations and analyzing. So I’m a big numbers guy really.
Bradley Sutton: So, in other words, it’s nothing really special that you were–I mean that you had that other people might not have access to that help you get your success. The way that you got success kind of anybody could duplicate that with the right determination.
Richard Greenup: Yeah, I totally agree.
Bradley Sutton: That’s awesome. That’s awesome. Now here’s where I really wanted to get into because the people who are in other countries–this is what I get asked a lot. How do you start a business in Amazon USA if you’re not a US citizen? Like, what is the process of signing up? How is it different than, like you know, me as an American? I’m assuming there are differences. So what are some of those?
Richard Greenup: So I kind of signed up with both businesses as we have ended up getting an LLC and differences that.
Bradley Sutton: So you got an LLC in the US or you’re talking about a corporation that was based in Australia? Okay, in the US.
Richard Greenup: We started with an Australian business and then we moved on to an LLC. No, you don’t have to at all. Like don’t–anyone in the audience get confused at all. You don’t–I don’t even sure you need a business in Australia to register. So I was trying to distinguish is that I’ve done both. I’ve registered with both and the difference I can tell is just about nothing. Like it just, it’s not a barrier to entry at all.
Bradley Sutton: Wow. Okay. So now what are some of the maybe hardships that you had, you know, not being here in the United States that maybe a US seller might not have had that, you know, other foreign sellers interested in selling in the USA should be maybe aware of and prepared for?
Richard Greenup:Yeah, definitely. So, I mean, it’s always nice to have friends. So you can substitute friends for making a Facebook group to get you early reviews. So, you know, get a bit of a following behind you. That would be one thing. And kind of the second thing you either probably want–like longer term when you, you know, you’re scaling and you’re trying to do product control for example, and having product issues. It’d be nice to–I mean you can still ship it internationally too actually, but it’s always nice to kind of have someone on the ground in America to do something. So, you know, like you could always try and form a friendship on a group. Like we met Bradley. And you know, it’s just having someone stateside, in case if physically needed there, is nice. But there’s ways around it too. Like you can get services like redirectmypost.com or something and they’ll redirect your post to Germany so he can send stuff to yourself and then have it. So to be honest, there’s not a lot.
Bradley Sutton: I’ve never heard of that. That’s pretty cool.
Richard Greenup: Yeah, You guys have everything, so why would you need to send something to yourself? The rest of the world needs American stuff.
Bradley Sutton: Yeah. Right. Okay. So when you would send your inventory, have you always just sent it directly from, you know, China or wherever to Amazon or do you send it–do you use 3PLs or what’s your process like as far as that goes?
Richard Greenup: Yeah, a bit of both. But mainly just FBA for now. This year we’ll probably be digging deeper into 3PL.
Bradley Sutton: So, are you able to turn your inventory over kind of fast? Because like let’s say you have a big MOQ, and you don’t know if you’re going to sell all of it right away, you know? So I would think that maybe a danger would be, you have a brand new product and maybe your MOQ is 2000, you sent all 2000 to Amazon, and it doesn’t sell well. Like has that happened to you? Or how do you avoid that?
Richard Greenup: Yeah, i mean. Yeah, exactly. But no different to any of my American friends with too much inventory. So definitely something we faced and learned hard lessons from.
Bradley Sutton: Okay. Well, speaking of hard lessons, what is like maybe the worst thing that’s happened to you, you know, so far, would you say?
Richard Greenup: Um I say quality. So if I can just say generally products. So we kind of ignored products at one stage. So we didn’t do product control, we didn’t have product development and we didn’t do inventory management correctly. So we had poor quality, and that really–
Bradley Sutton: Were you running out of stock or being overstocked sometimes?
Richard Greenup: Yeah. So we’re overstocked and we’re overstocked with like “bad products” that didn’t fit the market well enough. You know, we had a really good run and then I got a little bit too excited on the trigger, and ordered too many of products that weren’t already proven. So I guess my advice there would be prove the product and make sure you latch on to quality like a bulldog. Don’t let go of quality. Don’t drop the ball on quality, because nothing will slow you down quicker than bad quality.
Bradley Sutton: Yeah. Yeah. What, other than that like do you have any horror stories of something really bad that’s happened? Like maybe, you know, somebody died using your product or I don’t know. Something really crazy that happened to your Amazon business that could happen to somebody else that you want to give a heads up to?
Richard Greenup: I mean, someone broke their tailbone, but, I laugh because it’s like…
Bradley Sutton: Yeah, somebody broke there tailbone. Haha wasn’t that funny?
Richard Greenup: Well actually rang him..
Bradley Sutton: Alright. That does it for today’s episode of Serious Sellers Podcast. We got a real morbid person here. I don’t like talking to people like–No, but seriously though, so like did you get sued, or what happened?
Richard Greenup: Nothing. Just want to talk about it, but it comes with the territory, right? Like, you know, you don’t sue a car company for crashing into a tree when you’re drunk. So…well maybe you do, but um.
Bradley Sutton: But yeah, I’m thinking about that. I don’t know.
Richard Greenup:I’m just showing it, you know, like it kinda just comes with the territory.
Bradley Sutton: Alright. What about just things with Amazon? Has Amazon ever suspended you or anything like that?
Richard Greenup: Yeah, we got Amazon–Amazon suspended us for review manipulation. So that was–I cross the line so I deserved it.
Bradley Sutton: Shame on you. See, I told you guys I knew something about this, Richard. He laughs at people who break their tailbones, he manipulates reviews. But you learn from that mistake, you know, I’m sure. You know, a lot of people are doing that or that kind of stuff. And guys, it’s just not worth it. How much would you estimate you lost because you were suspended during that time?
Richard Greenup: Tens of thousands, if not you know, more because of the flow-in effect.
Bradley Sutton: Yeah. So guys, it’s not worth it, you know, to try and do gray area things because you know, eventually, especially when it comes to reviews, because Amazon is so, how should I say, sensitive because of all the bad press that they get about reviews. So that’s a good example. I like this. This a serious, you know, Richard is somebody who is not out there trying to sell a $10,000 course, but he’s just got an interesting story and he’s just like any of you guys. And so, it’s nice that it’s kind of refreshing to hear about your mistakes, as well as your successes. I remember before you had a big issue though, like with customs or something like that. You might have mentioned it in the–in our Facebook group. What happened there?
Richard Greenup: Yeah. We forgot the Made in China label, and yeah just wiped five figures of us in customs duties. That was when we were starting to sell. You know, like you’re reaching around from your desk, 35 levels up and your corporate job, and you’re like, you’re talking to Hong Kong and you’re like, “Where’s my stuff? Where’s my stuff?” And they’re like, “Oh no, it’s still waiting with the customs.” And you’re like, “Oh, when’s it going to be cleared?” And then, yeah, $10,000 later, it’s cleared.
Bradley Sutton: So what happened with that? Like did you have to trash it or did you have to like at the port make somebody put the labels on or how did you get out of that jam?
Richard Greenup: Yeah, correct. I think it was the people at the port put it on, and you know, at one stage the customs were talking about getting–like pen and writing it on. Like it turned into a bit of a circus. Like the Mariachi band walked in. We were just playing this live.
Bradley Sutton: So Richard, I think the Caipirinha is the number one drink in Brazil. How many of those have you had before you came on with us? Be honest.
Richard Greenup: I’m completely sober today, but on the weekend it is Australia Day, so it’s our 4th of July equivalent, and we are known to have a couple.
Bradley Sutton: Ah, okay. Alright. Yeah, I think this might be the only time on our Serious Sellers Podcast we’re gonna have somebody admit that they were doing review manipulation and they were laughing at people with tailbone injuries and talking about Mariachi bands. This is definitely an interesting interview here. I like it. Alright, so what else–now okay, so that was kind of–we talked about a couple of horror stories there about, you know, the customs issue with your Made in China and you know other things that have happened to you. But now tell me something really positive, like what’s something really cool that has happened? Like maybe you did an amazing lightning deal, or you sold $1 million in Christmas or something. Something like that. Give me a good story for listeners.
Richard Greenup: Well, oh yeah, yes. So, Prime Day. Our first Prime Day, so we didn’t really know about it going in pretty wet behind the ears and my operations manager is like, “Oh yeah, we should put this up for a deal.” And I’m like, “No. Like why? Like why would you bother?” And then long story short, that one product that he said he put up, it was like–I was in London. So the time difference was about, I think 10 hours from Cali and it started at 4:00 AM. And like, I’d check sales at like 11:00 AM or something. And I was like, “Hey, what’s going on?” And I’m like message operations. I’m like, “Hey what’s this?” And then just that, and then closer to $200,000 later, a Prime Day was over and–
Bradley Sutton: $200,000 in one day? On how many products or how many different SKUs?
Richard Greenup: Of like six, but the majority was made up from two.
Bradley Sutton: That’s crazy. So, what did your partner do? Did he do a special Prime Day deal and that’s how you got that or what happened there?
Richard Greenup: Yeah, that’s right. Yeah, we had two LDs, we had two lightning deals on the day.
Bradley Sutton: Alright, well there you have it guys. It’s not all bad news, but, interesting. So anyways, any tips for like, you know, let’s say we have somebody from Australia, somebody from Germany who’s interested to sell in Amazon USA. Any tips or words of wisdom and please don’t say manipulate reviews or laugh at your customers who hurt themselves.
Richard Greenup: Just one email, my list that was misinterpreted by Amazon. That’s my legal team talking. So I was using my own list. I wasn’t using bloody Facebook group, e-group or something. So, to a German or an Aussie or anyone who stays in US. Oh well just flat out–don’t let geography stop you. It’s 2019 like, just, if you want to get into the biggest market in the world, just do it. Don’t let it stop you.
Bradley Sutton: Okay. That’s great to know. It sounds like it’s–there’s not a lot of obstacles. I think a lot of people get really paranoid about, oh, I don’t have–like for example, do you need a US bank account to be able to operate as a foreigner?
Richard Greenup: No.
Bradley Sutton: Oh wow. You don’t even need to do that. That’s pretty amazing. Alright. Now, this is something that you have no idea what’s coming, but you being from Australia, how much do you know about American sports?
Richard Greenup: I like a bit like I know the football’s coming to the pointy end of the season right now.
Bradley Sutton: Okay. All right. So if I were to tell you, let’s see the team name Cowboys, what sport am I talking about?
Richard Greenup: Denver Cowboys. No that’s Denver Broncos.
Bradley Sutton: Okay. Think about it.
Richard Greenup: And I..
Bradley Sutton: Don’t Google it. I could hear if you’re going to click on it. I tell people if I tell this so I can hear if you’re clicking.
Richard Greenup: Okay, okay.
Bradley Sutton: What’s sports? What are the sport?
Richard Greenup: It’s going to be a southern team. I know in my job.
Bradley Sutton:Good, good. I hear you clicking. Are you cheating?
Richard Greenup: I swear. I’ll turn on video. I swear to goodness.
Bradley Sutton: I don’t trust somebody who manipulates reviews. My goodness. You’re never going to hear the end of that one now.
Richard Greenup: Against terms of service. Not. I don’t know.
Bradley Sutton: Dallas, so close, Dallas Cowboys. Football. Yes.
Richard Greenup: I knew it was in the south. It had to be in the south.
Bradley Sutton: I can’t gave you a hint by saying you had a Texas accent at the beginning of the episode.
Richard Greenup: That’s so annoying. I’ve been to Dallas.
Bradley Sutton: Alright. Now the second thing I want to ask you, first of all where in Australia, and where in Brazil are you from and are you at?
Richard Greenup: Oh, okay. So currently I’m in Belo Horizonte, which translates to beautiful horizontal. It’s how it reads in English.
Bradley Sutton: Alright. And in Australia, where’s your hometown?
Richard Greenup: Yeah, Brisbane.
Bradley Sutton: Alright. So if I’m going to Brisbane or if I’m going to Belo Horizonte, mate. Give us, you know, me or our listeners a go-to pub or amazing local restaurant that like not many people know about. So what–usually I’ve only asked this to a couple of our users–gonna start asking it. So like this is–you’re in two places at once. Give me one in each location that is a must go-to place.
Richard Greenup: Okay, Brisbane, the Royal Exchange Hotel. The only thing you need to enter is underwear.
Bradley Sutton: Okay, good to know. Good to know.
Richard Greenup: Oh here.
Bradley Sutton: Have you gone there in only underwear?
Richard Greenup: Not at all. You would have gone in there in an instant. It was like a frat equivalent sort of bar kind of thing.
Bradley Sutton: And how about in where you’re at in Brazil, Belo Horizonte.
Richard Greenup: Yeah, it’s a mouthful.
Bradley Sutton: Churrascaria. That’s what they call the steakhouse, right?
Richard Greenup: Oh, Churrascaria. If you want, this is really authentic. Like this is–it’s called pillite, which is P-I-L-L-I-T-E, and you serve your own food, which is very common in Brazil and you pay by the weight.
Bradley Sutton: What the heck is pay by the weight mean?
Bradley Sutton: Oh, The weight. I thought you meant wait as in like, I’m going to wait for you for five minutes. I was like, so like if I have to wait an hour for the food, it’s free or you know. So weight, W E I G H T.
Richard Greenup:Go by the key light here. So just letting all your audience in America know, the rest of the world goes on this system called metric because it makes a lot more–I mean, just because, yeah, just–
Bradley Sutton: Richard, we’re not stupid. I know you think Americans don’t–we understand that. My god, honestly mate. Alright, so, okay. Yes, I know. Yeah, UK. Oh no, Australia is a metric too. It’s only UK I believe in US, if I’m not mistaken, are on the, whatever you call it, that we’re on a period. Okay, so then you weigh your food and then so if you’re a dainty eater, or you don’t eat much then I’m assuming you don’t pay much, but if you’re somebody like me who eats two kilos of food per sitting, then I’m going to have to pay a little bit extra.
Richard Greenup: Correct. Yeah, exactly right.
Bradley Sutton: All right, well if I go to Brisbane or over there, I expect you to take me to these spots. And I don’t know if you know this, but I am a sumo wrestler, so I’m assuming if I wear my sumo belt only in Brisbane. That will be allowed.
Richard Greenup:Just pack it, mate.
Bradley Sutton: There you go, hey, no shame. Alright. All right guys. Well, this has been definitely an interesting interview, but as you guys can see, the reason why I brought Richard on is as you guys can see, this is a real guy. This guy is like you or me, you know, he is not some amazing guy who was a marketing genius who had an amazing plan and venture capital and that’s why he was successful. I really wanted to show you guys, and you guys can probably see how genuine he is that this is a regular guy. So if he can do it–you know any of you can do it. And that’s kind of like the way I–for those of you who don’t know, I used to be a pretty popular Zumba instructor. I travel the world doing Zumba classes. And the reason why my classes were so popular was not because I’m an amazing dancer, which I am not, but is because I was a sumo wrestler and I became a Zumba instructor. So then people looked at me and they’re like, wow, if this guy, this fat sumo guy could become a Zumba dance instructor, then I could do it. So that’s the kind of thing I want you guys to take from this. Not to become a Zumba instructor, to become a sumo wrestler, but that anybody with the right determination, I mean even this Richard guy who thinks Americans are stupid and if he thinks that–who thinks that the Cowboys are from Denver. I mean, if he can become a seven-figure seller, guys, you guys can too. So I know this is called the Serious Sellers Podcasts. We’ve got kind of silly on this set, but this is the silly sellers podcast today. But I hope at least you guys could see how genuine it is. Now, if somebody is interested, maybe Richard in getting some help, personal help from you about their Amazon business or some advice on selling in the US if they’re a foreigner, you have an email address or website or anything that people can use to contact you?
Richard Greenup: Yeah, sure so they can– I do a little bit of Boutique Consulting. So my email is Richard@VictorandHerbert.com. That’s Victor, V-I-C-T-O-R A-N-D-H-E-R-B-E-R-T VictorandHerbert.com.
Bradley Sutton: Alright. Where that name came from. That’d be for another episode cause that’s kind of interesting domain name. Anyways, Richard, thank you for being with us today and I’ll see you in our little mastermind group and hopefully some people might join, you know, there that make sure to give us a shout out that you heard about Richard from there. So anyways guys, thank you so much for listening and thank you Richard for being on and we’ll talk to you later.
How more questions about how to get started selling on the Amazon US marketplace as a non-citizen? Be sure to let us know in the comments!