Confusion reigns over Amazon launch
INTERNATIONAL retail giant Amazon today inched closer to its Australian launch, after advising local sellers to finalise their listings before the big day.
It's still not clear when that day will come, however, after the widely anticipated launch last Friday delivered little but disappointment and the repeated mashing of the refresh button by keen customers.
In a leaked email to its Amazon Marketplace sellers today, the company said it was pleased with the progress of its Australian website test so far, and advised retailers to finalise their return policies in anticipation of a public launch.
The missive followed Amazon's "soft launch" last Thursday, in which a select group were reportedly invited to see the full contents of the new web store, while others snuck in by a leaked link and witnessed a seemingly random assortment of discount goods uploaded, from glittery phone cases to home gym equipment.
In addition to finalising its website, Amazon reportedly paid $7 million for 2.11 hectares of vacant land in Sydney's southwest, adding to its warehouse in Melbourne's Dandenong South.There's still no clear date for Amazon's Australian arrival, however, leading Kantar Retail ANZ market research managing director Jason Mahony to warn that it could be delayed until next year due to back end glitches, as reported by Lifehacker.
Gartner research analyst Thomas O'Connor said many Australian retailers had been keenly anticipating Amazon's local launch and expected it to affect spending this holiday season.
"There's been a number of organisations expecting Amazon to launch between Black Friday and Christmas to make sure they're able to capture that general merchandise spend," he said.
"The fortunate thing for Australian retailers is they've had a lot of time to prepare."
While Amazon has yet to confirm a launch date for its Australian store, it did confirm today that its Echo smart speakers would arrive in Australia "early next year".
The internet-connected speakers, which can be used to order goods from Amazon or control other smart devices, will compete with Google Home and, when launched, Apple's HomePod.
"The customer response to Alexa and Echo has been incredibly positive, and we're excited to make them available for our Australian and New Zealand customers early next year," Amazon Alexa vice-president Toni Reid said.
"We also look forward to helping new and existing developers create innovative Alexa experiences for customers by expanding the Alexa Skills Kit and Alexa Voice Service to Australia and New Zealand."