As our world becomes increasingly connected, more and more people across the globe are turning to online retailers for their everyday purchases. Clothes, books, electronics, you name it – if it exists, you can probably buy it online. Unfortunately, with 195 countries, it’s nearly impossible for retailers to provide a local storefront for every country, which means the purchasing experience for consumers can vary wildly depending on your region. This disparity between purchasing countries and available storefronts is what we call “geo-fragmentation”.
Geniuslink (formerly Georiot) was founded in 2009 to help solve this problem. We saw that retailers like Amazon only maintained a handful of regional storefronts to provide service to hundreds of countries, forcing consumers to navigate international websites and pay for expensive shipping and taxes just to take advantage of Amazon’s large catalog. We wanted to find a solution for this, and made it our goal to provide a quality purchasing experience no matter where you click from, which means making sure that when you click on a product link, you’re taken to the most convenient place to buy.
So how do we solve the issue of geo-fragmentation if there’s not enough storefronts to go around?
Mapping is the process of selecting which countries get forwarded to each main Amazon storefront. As an example, New Zealand is way too small to have it’s own Amazon storefront, but with its close proximity to Australia, it makes the most sense to direct Kiwi traffic to Amazon.com.au, as it’s going to take less time to ship, and cost less to import a product from Australia than having that same product sent from the States. This kind of association helps improve the user experience for shoppers, and maximizes commission earning potential for affiliates at the same time!
Unfortunately, it’s not always so clear cut which countries should be mapped to which storefront, and this can get especially tricky as the “best” connection is often subjective, and heavily influenced by factors such as currency, language, shipping fees, and import taxes that can differ wildly between countries.
Over the years we’ve done a ton of research and listened to feedback from our clients to create connections within Geniuslink that we think provide the best shopping experience. Let’s take a look at how we currently map the 14 Amazon Associates storefronts, then discuss how the changing international landscape can affect these mappings.
Our Current Amazon Country Mappings
From a glance, here’s a quick overview of what our current country mappings look like:
28 countries (Including UK)
Right now the UK is the largest storefront in Europe, which makes it the best “catch-all” storefront for English speaking countries outside the US. We currently map 28 countries to Amazon.co.uk, so clicks from these countries will be sent to the UK storefront whenever possible.
Here are the 28 countries we currently map to Amazon.co.uk:
- Czech Republic
- Isle of Man
- United Kingdom
6 Countries (Including Germany)
Germany is the second largest Amazon storefront in Europe, but we only map 5 countries to this storefront currently. It’s worth noting that while the Netherlands does have it’s own storefront (Amazon.nl) they only carry eBooks, so Amazon.de is still a better choice for purchasing physical products.
Countries mapped to Amazon.de:
- Belgium – There’s some contention with regards to how we handle translation for Belgium, as they (much like Switzerland) speak both French and German depending on the region of the country.
4 Countries (Including France)
Countries mapped to Amazon.fr:
3 Countries (Including Spain)
Countries mapped to Amazon.es:
9 Countries (Including Italy)
Countries mapped to Amazon.it:
- Vatican City
- San Marino
13 Countries (Including India)
Countries mapped to Amazon.in:
7 Countries (Including China)
Countries mapped to Amazon.cn:
- Hong Kong
4 Countries (including Japan)
Countries mapped to Amazon.co.jp:
- Republic of Korea
2 Countries (including Australia)
Countries mapped to Amazon.com.au:
- New Zealand
Amazon.com Mappings – Everything Else!
Amazon.com remains the largest storefront with the most selection and the best international shipping out of all the other international programs, so we use the US storefront as our primary “catch-all” for a large part of the world. While not as convenient as a local storefront, Amazon.com is still the best option for getting physical products to countries in Africa and South America.
Keep in mind that all of the mapped routes we’ve shown above are simply the default routes our automatic localization takes when a product match is found. In cases where we can’t find a good match, we’ll sometimes be forced to return to the original product page. If this is happening to you, or if you just plain disagree with how our automatic mapping is setup, be sure to check out our Advanced Links feature to manually set your localization rules for your links!
A Changing European Landscape
Now, while we can control how our country mappings are setup, we still can’t control geopolitics. With the deadline for a Brexit decision rapidly approaching, and the increasing likelihood that the British government will not come to an agreement before April 12th, we may need to update our country mappings for Europe to ensure we’re still providing shoppers with the best possible experience in the event of a no-deal Brexit.
Well, irrespective of what Amazon sellers and affiliates do, shopping online with UK based retailers in general is likely to become more problematic after a no-deal Brexit. With the UK out of the EU, Irish and other EU shoppers could be faced with hefty import duties and VAT, and shoppers may also expect to see increased shipping fees similar to those applied if they had purchased from the US or Canada.
Fortunately, it sounds like there will still be some options for EU shoppers, and Amazon has done a good job providing an English language version of it’s German-based Amazon.de storefront, with some prices even proving to be cheaper than on the UK site. (Especially when you factor in increased VAT and shipping fees!)
We haven’t come to a decision yet about how we plan to move forward with this (much like many of the MP’s in Parliament) but we want to ensure that in a post-Brexit ecommerce market, we provide the best routing for EU shoppers – and it sounds like Amazon.de might be the replacement we’re looking for.
So how do you feel about our current country mappings? Are there any changes or adjustments you would like to see us make? Do you think making a change to send EU shoppers to Amazon.de instead of Amazon.co.uk will be the right choice? Let us know in the comments – we want to hear your feedback – no referendum required.