Why Amazon’s Australian launch is such brilliant news

Angus Kidman 21 April 2017 NEWS

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Businesses that are panicking have only themselves to blame.

With Amazon having finally confirmed its Australian plans, the scam emails can stop and everyone can start getting excited. Australia will never be more than a minor market for Amazon, but it's good news that we're finally going to be able to use Amazon without always paying heavy overseas postage fees.

Well, it's good news for everyone except other retailers. Given that we still don't have a firm launch date, much of the current speculation and discussion around Amazon's Australian plans is centred on how it's bad news for other retailers, who are going to be "smashed", "destroyed" and "annihilated". Two thoughts there.

Firstly: so what? Business is always about competition. If Amazon can provide a better online shopping experience - and that's certainly how it feels as a consumer - then it's up to its rivals to lift their game. Change is a constant in retail.

Secondly, it's not a simple Amazon versus everyone else equation. As I've noted before, Amazon actually makes a healthy sum using its warehouses to ship products for other retailers. The first public step it has taken after confirming its Australian plans is to invite existing retailers to sign up for Amazon Marketplace, where they can have their products sold through Amazon. That's an opportunity, as well as a threat.

Lest you mistake me for a gushing fanboy, I don't imagine the Amazon offering will be flawless. We can be sure that the initial range will still be a lot smaller than what's available on the main site, while it may become fiddlier to order through the US (or other countries). It's likely to be a long time before we see Amazon Fresh, which offers grocery delivery, operating down under.

We've already seen plenty of evidence for a more restricted range. One particularly odd example is the fact that even some of Amazon Prime Video's own original productions, for which it entirely owns the rights, have been released in Australia later than other countries. Amazon will need to do better on that front.

But there are areas where I'm sure Amazon will force others to up their ante, like not using gigantic boxes to send tiny products. That can't happen soon enough.

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 finder.com.au.

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