Amazon results remind us that Australia’s a low priority

Posted: 28 April 2017 10:02 am


In big retail, down under is a small pond.

Earlier this month, Amazon finally confirmed the worst-kept secret in online shopping: it was planning a big expansion of its operation in Australia. "The next step is to bring a retail offering to Australia, and we are making those plans now," the company announced. "We are excited to bring thousands of new jobs to Australia, millions of dollars in additional investment, and to empower small Australian businesses through Amazon Marketplace."

That sounds like a big deal, and it was enough to get plenty of people excited, myself included. But Amazon's financial results, released this week, underscore a point I've also made before: Australia is never going to be a particularly important market for the retailer.

Amazon's results announcement spends much of its time discussing the company's Indian expansion, and then goes on to list 32 "highlights" for the quarter. Plans to expand into Australia don't count as a highlight; the closest we get is a mention of Aussie Cate Blanchett appearing in a production available through the Amazon Video Direct service.

No doubt when there's actually something concrete, Australia might manage to sneak a mention into a results announcement. However, the focus for Amazon is going to be the US for a long time to come. North American revenue for the quarter was just shy of US$21 billion; total international sales were just over half of that, at US$11 billion. 59% of Amazon sales are in North America. Australia is never going to challenge that.

Angus Kidman's Findings column looks at new developments and research that help you save money, make wise decisions and enjoy your life more. It appears Monday through Friday on

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