After months of speculation, Amazon has opened in Australia, promising to “create thousands of new jobs and invest hundreds of millions of dollars” in the country.
The e-commerce site is offering “millions of products by well-known Australian brands” for “low prices” with “fast delivery options”. The company will serve orders from a fulfilment centre in Dandenong South and the retailer already has corporate offices in Sydney, Melbourne, Perth, Brisbane and Canberra which employ more than 1,000 people.
Among the discounted goods in its launch offer are Kindle e-readers from $109, 30% off r.r.p. on select toys, including Barbie and Batman and new release DVDs, such as "The Dark Tower". The Kindle Store already opened in Australia in 2013 but the retailer is offering Audible editions of books alongside the paperback and hardback editions on its website today (5th December). The retailer is charging $5.99 for three-seven day shipping on orders under $49, but shipping costs are free for order over this amount. Next day delivery is offered in cities such as Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Canberra for $9.99, but Amazon's Prime service offering subscribers free delivery won't be launched until 2018.
Rocco Braeuniger, country manager of Amazon Australia, said the company “hoped to earn the trust” of Australians. “Focusing on customers and the long-term are key principles in Amazon’s approach to retailing,” he said. “By concentrating on providing a great shopping experience and by constantly innovating on behalf of customers, we hope to earn the trust and the custom of Australian shoppers in the years to come.”
He added: “Over time, we will create thousands of new jobs and invest hundreds of millions of dollars in Australia. The result will be an ever-improving customer experience driven by the regular introduction of new products and services that we hope customers will love.”
However, bricks and mortar booksellers in the country are likely to be bracing themselves for change following the e-commerce giant's arrival.
Last month, Mark Rubbo, managing director of Readings in Melbourne, said Amazon’s arrival in the country “threatens the survival” of the “close-knit way of life” taken for granted by the local businesses based there, which include fruiterers, delis, cafes,pubs, cinemas, butchers, bars and bookshops.
He said: “Retail is Australia’s second-largest employer. There’s a real risk that Amazon Australia could decimate local businesses – and with them, part-time and casual jobs for students and parents of young children.”
He discussed how in America, Amazon had “dramatically changed communities” in the past 15 years, with the number of local, independent retail businesses dropping by 40% (measured relative to population). "And according to some estimates it’s eliminated approximately 149,000 more retail jobs than it’s created in its warehouses," he said.
“Bookshops – and all the shops that come together to make up our communities, to entice us away from our screens and into communal spaces – can’t exist without our customers," he added. "Where you shop is of course entirely your choice, but it’s important to really make that choice a conscious one."
However, the Guardian has cited retail analysts Citi as saying that large local electronics retailers like JB Hi-Fi and Harvey Norman are likely to he among the hardest hit by the arrival of Amazon in the country. Meanwhile,
Morgan Stanley analysts have warned that Kmart and Target’s parent company Wesfarmers could lose $400m in annual earnings to Amazon by the 2026 financial year.