Amazon Australia has finally launched. November was all abuzz with rumors of a launch that just didn’t happen. Weeks went by and still no amazon.com.au. But on December 5, it finally happened. After two soft launch disappointments on the 23rd and 24th of November, the hope of Amazon Australia became more than an insider tip as it was announced on the Brisbane news the night of December 5th.
No one can blame anyone who doubted the new highly publicized launch date. But Amazon Australia is, in fact, live. Jeff Bezos has put a lot into this new baby of his, and the new site is ready to take on online retail. Maybe not by storm, as the home page’s meowing duck indicates – yes, it’s still there – but maybe it’s just the developer’s testament to how Amazon has and is going to continue to fundamentally change the face and character of retail.
Amazon Australia Today
On the 5th, the Amazon Australia home page was a bit rough, but today it’s packed with electronics, mobile accessories and household products. The gigantic fulfillment center in Melbourne – 24,000 square feet of it – will not be complete until 2018, and so it’s not going to be on full force until that time. However, Amazon Australia is officially open for business and ready to serve millions of consumers down under. The Bezos behemoth has also bought up a nice piece of property in Sidney, which could be a second strategic fulfillment center.
Amazon Australia is hailed as a boon by many of our friends south of the equator. Online shopping has been dominating the world, but Australia has suffered high taxes and harsh shipping fees that have made online shopping a burden. If that wasn’t enough to discourage online retail, delivery times have been intolerable. It is hoped that Amazon Australia will solve these woes and give shoppers there a fair chance.
What to Expect
Amazon has always promised great prices and delivery speeds, and they have become as popular as they are because they have held true to this. If Amazon Australia can deliver in this respect, there is little doubt that they will be able to dominate there as they have everywhere else that they have established a presence. They failed to make a full launch by Black Friday this year, which would have been an awesome entrance into the Australian market. But it shouldn’t make a huge difference in the long run for the retail giant. Amazon Australia is going to make waves, no doubt about it.
The early news of Amazon Australia was met with conflicting viewpoints. It could be a wonderful solution to the lack of online opportunities in the region, and could also spell disaster for local businesses. Both are still true, and the impact on small local retailers has always been a harsh reality for any area that opens up to eCommerce. Despite the adjustments that brick and mortars must make, eCommerce is a global reality that we can all either choose to tolerate, or embrace. Online shopping is the future – even if big eCommerce is returning to build physical shops – and the chance to reach a global audience is going to be good for locals who decide to make the most of it.
The Amazon Australia directory now shows 17 departments with 141 categories between them. There are books, of course – what would an Amazon be without them? – and there’s a lot more, from Android apps to music and games, home improvement to baby and toys, and clothing to sports and outdoors. Kindle, Fire TV, Prime Video and Photos are also available on the site, and Amazon Basics is there as well, offering Amazon’s native line of products. Amazon Fresh is not in the mix, and there’s no indication that it will be added anytime soon.
The promise of hundreds of thousands of products available on Amazon Australia is no understatement. There are currently over 250,000 products already available on the marketplace, and many more are sure to be added as more international sellers look to branch out into the southern hemisphere. Amazon Australia is, after all, just starting out. Hundreds of thousands more products being listed in the next months is not at all an unrealistic expectation.
Third party sellers are also going to be getting on Amazon Australia as Amazon Marketplace is also in place. They will be able to set up shop and control pricing for their listed products. If history is any indication, this should increase the marketplace’s offering by about 50%.
With that said, we can now make a few predictions about how Amazon Australia is going to live up to their promise. We can tell that shipping is not going to be much of a problem, what with Amazon’s huge distribution network and two enormous fulfillment centers in the works. Pricing, however, is not looking too great.
Browsing through the products currently listed on the Amazon Australia domain, the prices aren’t likely to put that big of a smile on Aussie faces. Comparatively, they look the same as they are on other previously available marketplaces, and they behave in a similar fashion as well. Consumers are just going to have to get savvy with their searches if they want to find good deals. And they had better get clicking fast if they want to check off their Christmas lists without having to brave the usual holiday crowds.
Perhaps the hope of better online shopping was just too good. Maybe Australian shoppers have just suffered so long that they built up a dream that just couldn’t be realized. But just maybe, Amazon Australia only needs a little more time.
One concern that we will be watching closely is how Amazon Australia is going to affect the country’s access to the US and UK websites. When there was no Amazon Australia, shoppers would routinely visit amazon.com and amazon.co.uk to get better value than what was available with Aussie product versions. Will they now be limited to shopping on amazon.com.au? If past Australian product pricing and item contents are any indication, Amazon Australia is definitely going to be much less popular than all the hype suggested. So far, at least, Amazon US and UK customers can now use Amazon Australia by signing in with their existing accounts. Users can also sign up for new accounts, but will not be able to merge or link them.