By Nimra Noor, International Business Writer
As the holiday season is in full swing, Australians anxiously awaited the announced arrival of Amazon Australia, hopefully to be up and running before Christmas.
Taking its first orders on Tuesday, December 5, the US ecommerce goliath ended the suspense surrounding its opening date. It has switched over from simply having a Kindle Store presence to its fully-fledged Amazon.com.au, with millions of products now ready for eager Christmas shoppers across more than 20 categories.
The e-commerce giant’s Australian inauguration is a huge moment for Australia’s retail sector. It became one of the most anticipated launches of the year after Amazon confirmed in April it would expand its operations in the world’s No. 12 economy.
According to Reuters, thousands of Australian brands have already signed up with Amazon to sell their goods locally and internationally. Small and medium-sized Australian businesses are selling on Amazon Marketplace.
Although Australia has long been home to Amazon-registered sellers, they have been limited to sending goods offshore because Seattle-based Amazon did not have a warehouse in the country of 24 million people. This also meant Australians had to wait longer, and pay higher shipping fees.
Now, however, Amazon’s Australian marketplace covers 23 categories including books, computers, music, clothing, accessories, home improvement, consumer electronics, kitchen goods and baby products. Reuters reported that the estimated delivery time under the free delivery offer is as short as three business days in the cities of Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide, and Canberra – home to half the country’s population – while shipping to remote areas could take 10 days.
The global retailer further said it would offer free shipping nationwide for purchases over AU$49 (about 37.00 USD), along with providing Australian customers access to Prime Video and Twitch Prime, launching Prime shipping benefits in Australia in mid-2018.
“By concentrating on providing a great shopping experience and by constantly innovating on behalf of customers, we hope to earn the trust and the custom of Australian shoppers in the years to come,” Amazon Australia’s country manager, Rocco Braeuniger said in a statement on Tuesday. He further claimed that the company would create “thousands on new jobs” overtime in Australia.
The arrival of Amazon has left some traditional Australian retailers, David Jones, Myer, Harvey Norman, and JB HiFi bracing for a shake-up of the industry. Accordingly, it came as no surprise when brick-and-mortar stores have bolstered their online offerings ahead of the launch.
However, Reuters reported that after launch, there was a tepid reception towards the $550 billion newcomer. This came as Aussie shoppers were disappointment to find the prices of the much-hyped bargains to be more or less the same as offered by local retailers. This eased the Australian market’s worst fears about its potential to devastate brick-and-mortar incumbents. “Amazon’s not materially cheaper on a wide basket of items than the retailers,” Vertium Asset Management portfolio manager, Daniel Mueller said.
As it turned out, it is not going to be an easy transition for Amazon to operate in Australia, where geography, poor infrastructure, and reluctant adaption to e-commerce by firms have held back the online retail sector. “It may take some time for them to be up and running on their full logistics network,” said Citigroup analyst Bryan Raymond, who predicts that Amazon will not be hugely disruptive to Australian commerce, at least not this holiday season.
A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, December 12th print edition.
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