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Amazon’s Australian Launch Brings Excitement, Dread and Defiance (nytimes.com)
63 points by grahamel 5 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 39 comments

Sounds like they didn't open Amazon in Australian -- they opened Amazon Canada in Australia.

That would be how Amazon (retail) expands in the EU. They open German Amazon for new neighboring markets and then there are acrobatics with UI language, VAT, availability, payment and shipping options, etc.

They missed their first launch date by a week and a half. The lack of retailers is probably in part due to lack of APIs available til very close to launch day (within a week for orders) and a non existent sandbox for testing implementations.

They aren’t yet offering their own products with a few exceptions for cables.

Disclaimer: worked on our implementation as a launch retailer.

Yeah, a bunch of the API error messages are still in Japanese. Not that MWS in any region has ever been a pleasant developer experience.

You can fix this:

Update feed processing language to English (AU) : Seller Central > Settings > Account Info > Business Information > Language for feed processing report



I guess when the account was first created a bunch of the defaults were either wrong or not set yet.

I would so love screenshots of that...

Amazon doesn't provide a sandbox for any of its sites, making it quite challenging to integrate with Seller Central in any region.

they do have https://mt.amazon.com/

they have a bit more than cables, eg snes classic mini


What really is the "dread" factor for Amazon in Australia? My understanding from a linked article:


is that there is a culture of loyalty in Australia. So, this should be a walk in the part for other companies.

Though as far as I know, and all of this is secondhand knowledge, normal retail in Australia is costly. So, there is a market for cheap discount based retailing in Australia. But I could be wrong.

Aussie here. The Australia Tax [1] is absolutely a thing here: for example, it's difficult to buy decent kids' shoes for under $100 (!), whereas you can walk into any Payless in the US and walk out with a decent pair for $25 or so. Check this out if you don't believe me, and note that this is not a high-end retailer or anything, it's a chain with an outlet in every suburban shopping mall in Australia: https://www.shoesandsox.com.au/school.html

There's a huge slew of reasons for this, but it's a sum of very high rents and wages, a small market and a general lack of competition. Ebay, Aliexpress and Amazon US are consequently very popular, but most retailers are international so shipping is slow and, for anything bulkier, quite expensive. (Also, the deals aren't quite as good as they used to be since the Aussie dollar has depreciated against the USD.)

So, if Amazon can build a local operation here that -- for the first time in Australia -- has the trifecta of low prices, wide selection and fast shipping, they will crush the competition, online and offline. Which is why local retailers are scared shitless.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Australia_Tax

The other thing which has made importing shoes and other clothing items difficult is now that US brands sites won't ship overseas, and they've started blocking shipments to known reshipping services too.

I can still buy three pairs of name brand shoes from a US purchasing service (who purchase from the brand's own site) and have them shipped to Australia for less than the price of one pair on that brand's site here in Australia.

ebay from AUS sellers has served me well this year on their site-wide 10-15% off deals. e.g. Merrell, Colorado, Columbia and Timberland, $50 cheaper than at a physical shop. KEEN doesn't seem discounted much though.

> it's a sum of very high rents and wages, a small market and a general lack of competition

Australia is like Canada in a lot of ways yet retail in Canada is nowhere near as bad as Australia. Why is that? Is it all about proximity to the US?

I think so. Also, we are smaller, yet relatively wealthy. Companies tend to like to overcharge us, and then rather ironically, so do our own companies.

Retailers have been trying to cut rates for weekend work. Now they are worried about cheaper alternatives. There is less and less sympathy for them in Australia. They have been lazy for a long time, and it shows. They have been ripe for disruption for so long, and now Amazon has a chance to walk in and take it all from them.

So far, Amazon have sort of stuffed it. If they were more like Costco, they would almost certainly immediately take away a huge chunk of market share. They have decided not to compete on price, that's a huge mistake.

> So far, Amazon have sort of stuffed it

I would guess Amazon knows exactly what they are doing. The worst thing in the world for them to do would be to go in hyper-aggressively. A slow, bumbling start with very long term (but fluid) plans is the best strategy and Amazon is lucky that they can afford a long, slow start.

Yeah, like H&M, there's no reason for them to enter the AU market with US pricing. They might as well come in with pricing similar to other AU retailers and hope that the other benefits (convenience, fast shipping, better shopping experience) are compelling for consumers.

>payless shoes

as someone who grew up with payless shoes on be careful what you wish for

Australians are definitely loyal shoppers, but Amazon are certainly moving into markets that have screwed Australian shoppers for a long time.

I wouldn't be sweating it much at the moment if I was for example a local bookshop. OTOH an electronics retailer...

I'm not sure I'd agree.

Take for instance what Bunnings has done to the Mitre 10 brand.

The moment there's a lower price that's at least as convenient and serviced, we're gone.

Another point of anecdata is what Amazon and other overseas stores have done to local stores.

Loyalty by older generations perhaps, but younger generations can see how much we've been screwed by local retailers for years.

E: the reason Starbucks failed was because they sold American style coffee, which not enough people like. Cafe culture is incredibly picky about exactly how to make good coffee, so all the chains that hire uninterested inexperienced kids off the street all have problems in places where there's a lot of quality coffee.

Loyalty to Gerry Harvey? I doubt it.

Aussies know a good deal when they see it: we adopted mobile phones and DVD pretty quickly. Whe alao know a bad deal too: see how Masters failed miserably.

Yeah honestly I, and a lot of other people, are welcoming pretty much anything that'll result in Gerry Harvey getting a flogging after his hypocritical and self serving b.s for years.

His campaigning for eliminating/lowering the tax-free threshold on items bought overseas online was based on so much spinnning of the truth it's a wonder he didn't catch fire.

Yep. Harvey appeals to an older audience, but the truth is - he's not well loved by anyone else other than television networks because of his advertising spend.

I wonder if loyalty to Bunnings played a part at all in the failure of Masters.

Of course a large part of it was price and selection. But it seemed though that it was mostly a me too type offering and unless there was a drastic reduction in prices ( drastically better range would have been very hard) people were already pretty happy with Bunnings.

Bunnings (Wesfarmers) had a well-established lead. There was no compelling reason for Masters to enter the market except that Woolworths thought they needed a piece of the action.

Such is our supermarket duopoly.

Bookshops that are still around have already survived Amazon. Remember Borders Australia? They died spectacularly and it was only the niche players that survived.

The dread factor is the extreme scale and persistence that Amazon is likely to bring to the market. They will keep coming and coming and coming at it until they claw away meaningful market share. They'll lower prices as far as necessary, subsidized by Amazon global; as far as they can without getting in trouble with the government.

In most developed nations, including Australia, consumer spending typically grows at low single digits over time. There is no room for Amazon to build a significant business in Australia without taking share away from other domestic retailers.

I'm ok with this. If more retailers switch to a longer tail model the only downside I can think of is what to do with all the malls we have rocking about.

Knock them down, build more apartments and sell them to the Chinese.

Sigh. Heh, I completely forgot Amazon sold everything. I thought this was about AWS.

If only something AWS- and Australia- related could bring "excitement, dread and defiance." That would be absolutely absolutely wonderful; getting any sort of hosting or VPS-type service here is nothing short of insane.

For example the only $20/mo offers I'm aware of only offer like 256MB RAM for example. And there is a VERY low bandwidth cap, with extra bandwidth starting at "eye-watering" and skyrocketing to "...wat." pretty quickly.

Is Amazon Lightsail in Sydney what you're looking for?

I'm not sure where you are looking but there are Australian VPS providers with comparable pricing to overseas vendors. A$20 will get you 2GB memory easily enough.

Are you limited by ping times? I'm from Europe, but before switching to Hetzner bare metal machines, I always used VPS from the US...

Latency is a problem -- typically 180ms to US-west and a little more to EU. Singapore is 100ms-ish and a good option if AU is too expensive.

Laws and/or customer requirement often require that data be kept onshore, of course.

> Laws and/or customer requirement often require that data be kept onshore, of course.

Ah, I see. That's of course an important point.

I'm struggling to find anything I want to buy on the Australian website. I can't even get enough into the basket to get free shipping.

And their goods categorisation is abysmal - whatever department you're in you seem to get heaps of unrelated dross.

It's a terrible place right now.

When they pick their game up I don't think there will be much loyalty to existing retailers. Australians are well aware and sick of the Australia tax, and desperate to join the rest of the western world.

The only thing I worry about is, if Amazon does decimate the retail industry, then where will young people find employment?

Youth unemployment in Australia is already quite high at 12.7%. If there is further erosion of the strength of industries that typically employ youths, then we will have a large component of a generation where unemployment is the norm.

Incredibly disappointing. They stuffed it.

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