Time for the weekly recap of Amazon news! It's always good to keep up with events related to the fast-moving world of the Amazon ecosystem. I select the most important news updates to share with subscribers each week, which you can sign up to receive right here.
Amazon Australia launcheD YESTERday!
Now that the site is live, we can finally see under the hood and take some guesses as to what features Amazon will roll out next.
There’s no Prime program (yet)
No products on Amazon.com.au are part of the famed Prime membership program, but the website announces that it is “coming in the future”. Other Prime benefits like Prime Video and Twitch are available for a small monthly fee of $2.99 but this doesn’t include any shipping discounts.
Even items ‘shipped from and sold by Amazon’ (products that Amazon holds as their own inventory) are not included in a Prime program. Despite having an active fulfillment center in the eastern city of Melbourne, there’s no sign of the legendary membership program on the Australian site (yet).
However, Amazon has their trademark free shipping over a $49 AUD threshold ($37.22 USD).
“All orders of $49 or more of eligible items across any product category qualify for free delivery within Australia.” delivery times range from 3-7 days (major cities) to 7-10+ days for other areas.
Marketplace items (those sold and shipped by third-party sellers) are not eligible for the free shipping.
This will potentially cause some confusion for consumers.
There are no ad placements
Sellers have not yet been given the chance to set up ads, and it appears that Vendors have not either. Thus, there are no product or brand advertisements on the site at all! There are some advertisements and rich content created by Amazon to promote their electronics products, and to lead users to browse certain categories. But it makes for a surreal browsing experience to see literally NO ads on the Amazon Australia site.
As you can see from this screenshot of an Australian Seller Central account, it lacks many of the features available on the full US Seller Central interface, including Advertising, B2B (business to business) product offers, and Storefront pages.
There are no product reviews
On other non-US marketplaces, Amazon pulls in customer reviews from other sites if there are no or few reviews on the local site.
For example, this candle had no reviews on the UK site, so a review written on the Germany site was pulled in to display natively. Most consumers like to read reviews, but few take the time to write them. Amazon understands this, so the feature that pulls in product reviews helps give credibility to new or slow-moving products. Amazon Australia has no such feature yet, which will cause more of a drag on adoption and sales.
Seller Central is linked to the North America interface
Amazon’s Seller Central platform has been linked in the past by geography - with the US, Canada and Mexico marketplaces on the ‘North America’ platform, and the UK and EU nations on the EU platform.
Australia has been linked to the North America platform, as opposed to an Asia Pacific platform which could include the India, Japan, and China markets.
I'm not yet sure there's any real significance to this move, you could surmise that Amazon seems to be making Australia a priority by putting it in front of its core US seller audience, but at this stage that might be a stretch given the lack of other features available so far.
So, what does this mean for brands?
Our Ecommerce Braintrust podcast this week is all about the Australia launch. I interview Australian retail expert Scott Kilmartin to talk about the significance of Amazon launching in Australia now, and how the market is a little different to any that Amazon's launched in so far. The show comes out on Wednesday - Subscribe to the podcast on iTunes so you don't miss it.
In that episode, we talk about how Australia punches above its weight from a consumer spending standpoint. Though we are talking about a small country population-wise, Australians are big trend followers of international trends and the country has a high disposable income. My perspective is that brands who've delayed entering Australia because of the cost or complexity now have a great reason to do so. Amazon will provide the leverage and proven processes to make it a worthy investment.
This is all the news I have to share with you this week. Stay tuned for my next update!