Retail, Startup News & Analysis

Amazon launches in Australia, showing why industry predictions are futile

Emma Koehn /

Amazon Australia country manager Rocco Braeuniger

Amazon Australia country manager Rocco Braeuniger. Source: Supplied

Christmas shoppers might have thought the global retail giant had forgotten them, but that is not the case: from watches to office supplies, Amazon Australia hit the “live” button today.

After years of speculation and several libraries’ worth of analysis from local retailers about the impact of the launch, the Australian arm of the billion-dollar platform will be open for business with three weeks of festive spending still left in the year.

Amazon will lift the lid on both its Marketplace and own inventory offerings today, revealing 23 product categories including books, beauty, music, clothing and accessories, consumer electronics, toys, home products, shoes, baby products and sports and outdoors. 

The launch is ahead of a longer-term product rollout that, while gradual, beats many analysts’ expectations for the speed with which its most recognisable offerings will be on local soil.

For example, retail experts and analysts have told SmartCompany for months that it will likely be slow going for Amazon to establish a speedy delivery service.

That does not appear to be the case, with Amazon Australia promising next-day options immediately off the bat and those in the major cities set to benefit from speedy delivery times from today.

Orders placed directly with Amazon, (rather than through third party Marketplace sellers), will receive free shipping and arrive within three-to-seven days to major Australian towns and cities if the order is $49 or more.

An “expedited” delivery option will allow customers to get their packages sent to major cities in a two-to-three day window for a fee of between $5.99 and $7.99.

Meanwhile, Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Brisbane and Canberra customers can pay $9.95 for next-day delivery from today. 

On the product and execution front, most predictions have been that while Amazon will eventually disrupt the retail game Down Under, the scope of product offering and speed of rollouts for some of the brands most iconic products are years off from being realised.

Amazon is looking to speed past analysts’ prediction timelines: SmartCompany understands Amazon Echo and Alexa will be set for the Australian and New Zealand markets by early 2018, while Prime will also be ready for the local market by mid-2018.

Those championing the future of shopping as mobile-first will not be proven wrong: the Amazon app will also be ready from tomorrow, with customers able to place orders and track delivery through one window in their smartphone.

Marketplace courts SMEs

Amazon Australia country manager Rocco Braeuniger said in a statement today the retailer’s goal is to “earn the trust and the custom of Australian shoppers in the years to come” and it plans to do this by prioritising the shopping experience it offers customers and by “constantly innovating on behalf of customers”.

His comments come after several months of rallying support for the retail giant’s local Marketplace offering — a platform championed portal through which SMEs can sell their products to the world.

SmartCompany understands hundreds of local sellers are now set up on the platform, and while there has been speculation that there were teething issues for some companies during the launch process, Amazon has maintained the local rollout has been smooth sailing.

The retail giant also maintains that its contracts with smaller operators will fall in line with Australia’s unfair contract laws legislation, after figures such as the country’s small business ombudsman Kate Carnell questioned what the terms of the supplier relationship would be through the platform.

At a summit for sellers held earlier this year, it was confirmed sellers on the Marketplace platform will pay $49.95 a month to use the platform, plus a commission of between six and 15%.

And while the likes of Alibaba and JD.com have spent time connecting local “Australian made” businesses to new markets, SmartCompany understands Amazon is also looking to bring premium Australian brands to global audiences.

The company continues to make its pitch to small operators to join the platform as a seller, with local brands like KoalaSafe endorsing the platform in a statement today, saying local retailers should be “excited” by the option.

Amazon might have moved faster than many expected, but after months of speculation Braeuniger does have one promise for the local market: a long game.

Having promised to bring thousands of jobs to Australia, he has “focusing on customers and the long term” are key priorities for the business.

The callout for businesses to help contribute to its Marketplace takings, which account for 50% of the retailer’s global sales, continues.

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Emma Koehn

Emma Koehn is SmartCompany's senior journalist.

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