Why Amazon Australia will never stop launching

Angus Kidman 24 November 2017 NEWS


We've been looking at the shopping giant's arrival down under in entirely the wrong way.

So the big game yesterday was seeing what happened when Amazon Australia began tests to allow other sellers to offer goods through its Marketplace program. If you were hoping for a shopping frenzy, disappointment would have loomed large. The test appeared to be extremely limited in scope, meaning that most of us were seeing the same stuff on Amazon's Australian site we've been seeing all year: Kindle, ebooks, Audible and the odd app.

As I write this, there's no sign of Amazon expanding its local offering in time for Black Friday either. That's not to say that won't happen at some point during the day or over the weekend, but it feels somewhat unlikely: why launch yourself into a hailstorm of competition?

More to the point, it doesn't really make sense to think of Amazon's launch in Australia as a one-time event. It's not a binary situation: one day nothing, the next day everything. There's plenty of evidence that Amazon is expanding its range down under, but that doesn't mean we'll get all the goodies associated with the brand at launch. We're not suddenly going to see Echo and Amazon Prime and Amazon Fresh all springing to life at once.

Case in point: it looks like Amazon will be launching locally in 18 categories. In the US, it operates across 46. That's a lot of room for growth.

Slow-burn expansion has long been the Amazon pattern down under. It began selling Kindles to Australians back in 2009, launched the Amazon App Store for Android phones in 2013 and then rolled out Prime Video last year.

It's also worth remembering that Amazon doesn't need a local presence to attract Australian customers. Recent Nielsen figures suggest 4.6 million Australians accessed the main Amazon site last month. The only Australian retailer with more visitors was Woolworths. Those 4.6 million Australians will be prime targets as Amazon expands, but they also mean the company can take its sweet time.

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 regularly on finder.com.au.

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