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Sweden offers glimpse of a world without Amazon (politico.eu)
153 points by kome 6 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 138 comments

I'm Swedish and I don't quite recognise parts of the narrative, here. It's true that we seem to have more diversity in our online retail market and many of the big players are Swedish sites (cdon and Webhallen, for instance). There's no single big player which dominates the way Amazon seems to do. So, I'm definitely following that part of the narrative. I also agree that Prisjakt (and, to a lesser extent, Pricerunner) are an integral part of the way we interact with online retailers.

But when they talk about lack of same-day delivery and make it sound like the lack of Amazon means we're missing out on a superior selection of wares, then I'm not following.

I mean, I wouldn't mind same-day delivery (is this, or next-day, available for every single product, or just a selection of products?), but having to wait a day or two on average is nothing I've personally felt any existential dread about.

Also, it's been years since I noticed that there were products available via Amazon which I couldn't get at a reasonable price from a local online retailer. This used to be the case, but it definitely seems things have improved.


  > there’s one basic ingredient to living online that Sweden still lacks.
  > They don’t have access to Amazon.
Uh. Presumptive much?

  > while locals clamor
I'm admittedly one mountain range over, but I feel inclined to say '[citation needed]', here.

This whole thing reads like a paid-placement Amazon advertisement.

Same in the Netherlands, we have Amazon, sorta-kinda, but there's barely anything on it without expensive multi-week international shipping... literally never heard of anyone using it. And there's absolutely nobody who talks about wanting it, either.

That's not because we don't find it useful, we just have local alternatives.

I'm curious for Netherlands- what are the common places to acquire computer parts and living room furniture. When I visited Amsterdam and traveled to the surround areas, I personally never found many physical stores that there an equivalent to Best Buy for a furniture warehouse.

for the Netherlands, check out tweakers.net[1] for your computer parts (they have an extensive price guide that will show you which webshop has the best prices and delivery speed). If you need them in a pinch, MediaMarkt/Saturn usually has what you need at a premium.

for living room furniture... Most of it is from IKEA

[1]: https://tweakers.net/pricewatch/#highlightCat:14

Thank you. I've been building a startup in California and have been dreaming of moving it to Amsterdam. Been learning Dutch over the last year and been trying to find the best information on the most effective way to migrate over. :)

Google the Dutch-American Friendship Treaty. It makes it trivial for American entrepreneurs to move to NL

I just moved here to the Netherlands, message me on keybase if you have any questions.

Check out DAFT....

I use the German Amazon for pretty much all my online shopping. Everything's on there, free shipping included.

Not everything is on the German Amazon. Some things are only on the US/Spain/Italy one. Or it is sometimes on that one, sometimes not.

Amazon often does NOT tell you the shipping costs until just before you make the order. This while any other price comparison site allows you to compare prices including shipping (e.g. Tweakers.net pricewatch). I don't understand why people use Amazon. From my colleagues only foreigners use Amazon. Dutch colleagues often use sites which might be foreign, but at least appear more Dutch.

German Amazon uses machine translation for appearing to be Dutch. Original language is German. Another bit which makes the experience annoying.

Lastly, most Dutch sites offer really easy returns. Amazon is more of a hassle.

Amazon does not have an Irish store either. Amazon.ie redirects to the UK store where all prices are in GBP, though they happily deliver to Ireland.

They happily deliver maybe a third of their inventory. It's really frustrating to get to checkout to find out I have to use addresspal or parcel motel.

if your default address is in ireland, then you don't need to get to checkout to know that the product can't be delivered to you

I always see in the product page an info saying "THIS SELLER DOES NOT DELIVER TO IRELAND"

You don't know what you are missing. Your life could be very different, but since it isn't an option you can't really imagine how.

That isn't to say you would want it over the alternatives if you had it. I personally almost never use amazon. I know people who get something delivered every few days. Different people are different.

The point is that there are plenty of people that stuff get delivered every few days. There are local alternatives. Just because Amazon doesn't exist, doesn't mean that you can't order things online. At least in the Netherlands almost all shops offer next day delivery. We have some vendors that offer same delivery. None of them are Amazon.

If Amazon _did_ turn up, would it have an effect? Probably. Would it be game and/or life changing? Unlikely, since these capabilities are already available in here.

You are correct that we are not used to getting everything from the same vendor. But it is absolutely common for people to order stuff online. Our "high streets" are just as empty as those in the rest of the world.

Well, I live in a country with only crappy Amazon (Ireland) but I moved here from a country with great Amazon (US). I find myself wishing we had Amazon even though I have a lot of problems with them - 8 years ago they inexplicably barred me from selling on marketplace before I'd ever sold a single thing; with no recourse. I _think_ it's because the person who had my apartment before me was shady, but apparently I'm banned for life.

And yet I have not found a convenient online store that has even close to as much as Amazon and is competitively priced. If I want to buy a monitor what is there? All the domestic dealers are beyond awful, and I can use overclockers (a UK site) but the shipping is high and soon I may have to pay tariffs too. I go to German, Spanish sites too now and then but even if they have what I want it's generally overpriced and shipping is quite expensive. I also need to go to 6 different places if I want 6 different things, so I can't combine shipping. If the EU wants greater union it might be worth making it as cheap to ship something from Dublin to Tallinn as from Boston to San Diego.

Though tbf I have been moving towards using more ebay, or dealextreme when I can (and am ok with waiting 6 weeks).

To be fair, the EU can't change geography. We're a sparsely populated island off another island off the main bulk of the continent.

They already paid big chunks of the bills for Ireland's roads, ports and airports. Asking them to subsidise everyone's postal costs too is a bit much.

If I order from Webhallen and similar I usually get next day deliveries (I live in Stockholm), but not even Amazon will be able to next-day-deliver to all corners of Sweden. I can't imagine Amazon does that in the US either?

I also don't miss any products, or envy the prices when comparing smaller stores to Amazon.de or uk.

The us amazon seems like a place where you can get anything, quickly and cheaply. The uk/de stores seems like they have limited selection not as good prices (even accounting for tax and currency differences). I get the feeling that Amazon US is this vast logistical network that makes super cheap and super fast shopping available. And at the same time amazon.uk/de seem like regular online warehouses offering no real price or delivery time benefit over the next store. Does that sound right?

> next day deliveries

Swedish mail service is generally next day delivery for pretty much everything within Sweden. That's not so with the US postal service (expect 2-3 days for most things) so that right there is already a key difference.

I wish Norwegian post was like Swedish one. We are lucky if the stuff we order gets delivered same week! Also delivery to door is more expensive and they have stopped delivering post every day that’s part of the problem. All due to privatization ans cost cutting strategy.

Japanese delivery services are generally next day too, and Amazon doesn't even seem to know about it. There are so many times when it told me something would be delivered in more than 2 days (in a particularly ridiculous case, it was telling me 7 days) that were actually delivered on the next day.

So yeah, in some countries, the delivery speed is not a factor making Amazon more attractive.

Almost. In the US amazon has invested so much in logistics to pull that off that they are no longer the low price supplier all the time. However because of selection I know I can go to Amazon and find what I'm looking for, and the price is close enough to the best possible price that it isn't worth price shopping.

When I know of someplace else to get something I'll go there instead and normally get a better price. Amazon might get it a day sooner, which is rarely worth it (if I want it sooner I'll pay extra for next day delivery which most places will offer.

> The us amazon seems like a place where you can get anything, quickly and cheaply.

And its a very rude awakening whenever you actually try ordering something from a non-Amazon place that isn't trying to compete with them.

Suddenly you're waiting 2-3 days for "processing", then another week for something to arrive, after having paid $20+ for shipping.

I didn't want to say anything because I've learned that I'm rarely the norm but I agree with you about same day delivery.

I've ordered stuff from Amazon to Sweden sometimes because their selection is so much bigger and I don't mind waiting several weeks for it to arrive.

Well you should know that we often order from China these days and with zero shipping cost it might take a month to arrive.

Doesn't matter, I'll wait.

But something tells me this attitude is far from the norm among people.

Also living in Sweden here - article misses two huge points.

Same day delivery? Not a big deal. The fact that PostNord won’t deliver packages to my doorstep is though. Having to go to ICA to pick stuff up is a complete pain in the ass sometimes, especially if the package is bigger and I can’t carry it with me on my bike.

Article doesn’t really mention the new tax on stuff imported from China either - that basically killed the crap Chinese knockoff market for things like 10kr cords and the like. If Amazon didn’t find Sweden appealing before they find it even less appealing now.

> The fact that PostNord won’t deliver packages to my doorstep is though. Having to go to ICA to pick stuff up is a complete pain in the ass sometimes

For me that was actually a plus, since FedEx etc would always leave a "sorry you weren't home" notice even when I was home and waiting all day even afraid to go to the bathroom because they were too lazy to figure out the intercom. But I lived in a city where the Posten (at that time) pickup point was basically just right downstairs.

The China tax bothers me as well. For some electronics parts I cannot find a Swedish online shop selling the product in question. Maybe I find one shop selling it, at an unreasonable price. Instead, I resorted to shipping stuff to my parents in Germany and either fetching it on my next visit or having them send it to me. Yes, shipping cost from Germany to Sweden plus the Aliexpress-price is still cheaper than anything else.

I somehow resent China-shopping getting popular or even mainstream amongst average Joe and Jane (using Wish and the likes). I can see how that prompted this initiative.

There are quite a few online retailers that offer same-day deliver if you pay for it, through Best or other couriers other than PostNord (or traditional post couriers).

From the top of my head I've bought in Elgiganten, Webhallen, Caliroots and SNS with those.

Also, it's quite easy if you live in Stockholm to pay online and pick it up in person, I do that quite often with Webhallen as I have a store close to my office and also to my apartment.

Never felt the need for same-day on anything though, it's just a small convenience to quench my delivery anxiety for stuff I'd really like to have right now but waiting a day or two (I don't even recall any delivery taking longer than that) is completely ok.

>But when they talk about lack of same-day delivery

Which is fairly possible these days with Best and whatnot, pretty sure Inet and Webhallen offers same-day delivery with them!

Thank you. I had a healthy skepticism about this, it feels almost like a piece designed to manufacture desire in its readers for next day delivery which is a "expected thing in the US (it isn't, it varies based on which seller on Amazon it is). One could imagine an Amazon rep calling the author up and suggesting this might be an interesting story...for reasons.

Having just moved back to Denmark after a few years in the states, I'll admit I miss Amazon... The small webshops feels sketchy, and I never know when something is going to arrive..

I did a lot more online shopping in the US, because delivery was better, the experience was better, sorry to say it but from a consumer point of view Amazon does an amazing job.

Today, I feel like there's many products I can't get hold off... Or it takes too long to order online, so I find a store :(

> Is this, or next-day, available for every single product, or just a selection of products?

Same-day is available for a subset of products if you order early enough in the day. Next-day is available for almost everything (for a premium). Two day is the default and also available for almost everything.

My house in the US has an amazon store less than 5 miles away and I still can't get same day delivery!

It was impossible to get most of what I was used to at a competitive price when living in Sweden. I paid, for example, about $70 USD in tariffs in order to retrieve the light bulbs I ordered online from post office. Your package is basically government property until you pay the taxes on it which are rarely specified at the time of purchase.

I missed Amazon when I lived in Sweden. The issue is not the value Amazon brought us from their excessive competition. It is the relationship with government that should be illegal. Americans pay taxes and those tax dollars go to support Amazon's workers with food stamps, welfare, etc - this is not capitalism, but the socialistic policies that have been growing for nearly a century now. Also, if the government cannot defend the people against The Washington Post's propaganda, then it is not doing its job. It is treason to support other governments and foreign entities above one's own government - which the Post and others very often do. If the US was a free market for the people, then the government would have raided Bezos' home & business a long time ago... But I don't blame him - this is the type of behavior we are promoting without enforcing separation between government & private entities.


"shadow banning" generally means a ban the person banned isn't told about, which doesn't apply here.

EDIT: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=17491521

Yes, I've been emailing them about it and they won't reply. They first emailed me saying that people can (have to) support you in comments - and I did receive support via comments - but they still decided to censor my view... And I didn't realize it until I had written many more comments.

By the way, I highly support your previously downvoted comment, "The only science you're allowed to be skeptical of (on HN) is science other people are also skeptical of..."

> but having to wait a day or two on average is nothing I've personally felt any existential dread about.

I used to think the same thing but ever since I got used to amazon's overnight delivery its a completely different ballgame. Eg: Diswashing liquid almost over -> order it on amazon.

Dishwashing liquid almost empty -> take another off the shelf, consider reordering, never worry about paying higher shipping, a subscription, or it being "late" if it takes gasp three days.

> take another off the shelf

yea you can obviously save money by being organised, going to stores, cutting coupons ect.

Different people have priorties in life though.

Right, because sorting by cheapest price per count and buying in bulk can be equated with the time involved in clipping coupons.

I live in a tiny studio. I don't buy in bulk.

There have been rumors that Amazon will start free next day deliveries in Sweden, Finland and Denmark [1], but it hasn't happened, yet.

That was actually a wake-up call for local web shops and the post office in Finland. The post office is now starting same-day deliveries so that local web stores would have an advantage over Amazon and other foreign web stores. Simply having a threat of Amazon is improving the situation here.

[1] https://metropolitan.fi/entry/amazon-finland-denmark-sweden-...

Wouldn't amazon just use the Swedish post office like they use the USPS in the US?

At least where I live in the US, Amazon same and next day deliveries are usually through their in-house logistics service

Amazon Germany delivers with DPD (for 1-2 day delivery) or Hermes (for 1-∞ days delivery)

Sure, where available, but if the Swedish postal service already offers 1 day delivery, it's not a competitive advantage to Swedish companies, assuming Amazon isn't barred from using it too.

The swedish postal service is not known to be reliable, and is often joked about here in Sweden.

As an American who has come here, I gained an all new appreciation for USPS after dealing with PostNord. They really are infuriatingly bad sometimes.

Stunning to see what a little outside motivation can do, isn't it?

Would be nice if it motivated Amazon in the states. I have Prime, and I get 2-day delivery times at best. Sometimes longer. I will not be renewing when it expires at the end of the year.

Peak US consumerism. Can't wait 2-3 days for a product that would've taken a week not 10-15 years ago, or maybe you had to drive/walk to the store.

I cancelled because I started to realize Amazon is hardly ever the cheapest price anymore, and most other companies now offer 2-3 day shipping for free. I order direct and support the actual company making the product instead of giving money to a monopoly with terrible ethics.

Peak US consumerism.

It's not consumerism when when I pay US$119/year for the privilege. Then it becomes, "meet your SLA that I'm paying money for, assholes."

They are meeting what you'll get for $119.

I'll probably cancel as well. I don't use amazon for its music, tv shows, groceries, rentals, or any of the other stuff I never asked for when I signed up for prime. Two day delivery used to be a thing without prime, all you had to do was spend over a minimum on certain items. Then prime came and was always 2-day. Then it got more expensive and more lax about deliver windows, and then it did that a few more times. Meanwhile I have pretty much no faith in buying staples from amazon anymore because of fake reviews, fake listings, and counterfeit products. Even when buying more expensive or niche gear, you have to keep a careful eye on what you receive, as some suppliers will send an outdated model of the thing you're buying at the new model's price.

I think the logistics get a bit more difficult when dealing with 4m sq miles of the US vs the 200k sq miles of sweden.

Wow, it's like capitalism actually works.

Yeah, all these people acting like Amazon is just some giant company that didn't earn its size due to customer service and convenience are just ridiculous.

Amazon entering a market is a huge deal and a net good for the consumer. I live in a city and between Amazon Prime, Amazon Fresh (I never have to go grocery shopping anymore), and Amazon Restaurants, Amazon is quickly becoming the only place I need to do all my shopping. All of this for a low price. They even have Wal-Mart looking at offering same to 2-day shipping.

It's ridiculous to say Amazon isn't some net good for a market.

...or Amazon will operate without a profit until it captures the entire market and then things won't be so rose tinted.

I'm in Mexico, Amazon entered the market a couple of years ago here.

It was night and day, the existing competition (Mainly Mercadolibre) started getting way better, but still Amazon is a superior shopping experience.

Prime shipping is way faster than anything else, piracy is not a problem, which is a huge issue with Mercadolibre (Although I've heard people in the US complain a lot about that)

To clear up how piracy was an issue, and how Mercadolibre is complicit in it I once ordered a LAN adapter for my Wii U. The pictures in the post were the official Nintendo ones, the adapter cost around what the official ones did. So I bought it, anyway I instead get a Chinese knockoff I saw on Aliexpress for somewhere around 1 dollar. I contacted Mercadolibre customer support, and they mentioned that even though the image was the Nintendo one I would not get a refund, because I didn't ask the seller if the product was original before I bought.

Anyway, I'm a happy Amazon user. As for the underdog narrative in the article: Screw that, underdogs mostly suck. When a tech company is hegemonic it usually isn't a matter of pure supply, or location: It's because for the most part they do things right, or at least better than their competition.

In Poland the dominant online marketplace is our domestic Allegro.pl. Started off in 1999 as eBay equivalent - mostly individuals selling new and used goods - but in recent years it developed more into direct competition with Amazon, by catering to shops and brands, purchasing and offering its own parcel delivery service (both courier service and pickup machines), and online payment processor. Just recently it even introduced equivalent of Amazon Prime.

Unfortunately I have no insights how Allegro managed to stay ahead of the global heavyweights. Probably combination of polish language UI and catering to specific needs of local market.

Currently while both eBay and Amazon have sizeable presence in Poland, the Allegro.pl is still the go-to place, and seems to be able to hold its own pretty well, up to and including expansion to neighboring CEC countries. Even the Amazon fulfillment center that opened in my city recently is mostly geared to handle the German market rather than polish.

> I have no insights how Allegro managed to stay ahead of the global heavyweights.

Two sided market places have substantial first mover advantage, to the point where a global competitor has no way to break into the market. The same happened in NL with 'Marktplaats', which was eventually bought by Ebay after an unsuccessful attempt at dislodging the incumbent.

It's true that Amazon's warehouses in Poland are only used for the German market. In theory that would mean that a drive to Polish market would be easy for Amazon. But since the warehouses are really busy already the local physical presence doesn't help Amazon that much.

This is one possible reason why a local player can hold himself, That and a local UI of course.

One big manufacturer of parcel lockers is polish. So i wonder - how popular is using parcel lockers for e-commerce is in Poland?

Also, using parcel lockers can make a lot of the logistics much easier, and this might explain how allegro.pl could offer a Prime like service.

Personally prefer it over any other method - the most comfortable pickup in a mid-sized city, given somewhat irregular office hours. I've noticed some friends were having serious misgivings about trusting this method of delivery, but having tried it once, loved it. Apparently for 2017 it was apparently 22% of buyers, over 11% in 2015. [1] Worth noting is that the same service provider (Inpost) also handles courier delivery and pickups at gas stations and other such.

As for sellers, surprisingly not every one is providing this option yet.

edit: Notably some models of the parcel lockers welcome users with rather heartfelt messages - and count and show the short time it took to pick up the goods. Those trivial functionalities makes it so much more joyous to use.

[1] http://www.dlahandlu.pl/detal-hurt/wiadomosci/po-firmach-kur... "

So tue, the last mile really sucks with a lot of carriers. Here in Germany DHL used to be the Gold Standard for some time. But with ever increasing volumes it also became a pain, at least for Amazon deliveries. For others they are now offering things like selecting preferred delivery Dates while the package is still in transit.

Lockers are a great solution, the only thing better is having an employer that allows private packages to be shipped there.

I'm still not convinced that the Amazon logistics solution, leaving parcels at the door step of customers regardless, is such a good idea so.

Volvo is rolling out a service where you can get stuff delivered into the trunk of your car.

Tesco offers similar service - shop online, drive up to the mall, get groceries deposited directly to your car's trunk. Haven't tried it yet.

That's not at all similar. What Volvo offer is: regardless of where your car is parked, before the day is over, your postal package can be found in the trunk of your car.

It's almost like magic. :-P

I just read the article about trunk delivery. It blew my mind, I was honestly amazed that this exists. https://www.theverge.com/2018/4/24/17261744/amazon-package-d...

> So i wonder - how popular is using parcel lockers for e-commerce is in Poland?

From my own experience: extremely. It's the default option, everything else is considered only if the parcel doesn't fit the locker.

I live in Switzerland, which is also without local Amazon, and previously lived in the UK, where I was an enthusiastic Prime early-adopter.

Honestly, it's bloody frustrating, and I'd love it if Amazon opened a significant local presence with prime delivery options. What I miss is the combination quick cheap delivery, and easy access to a wide enough range of items such that rarer things --often those related to hobbies, or rarer cooking products, for example-- are easily available.

The alternatives are frustrating, often-fruitless hunts through local shops; independent Swiss e-tailers with high prices and usually very high delivery costs; or international mail order with the attendant delays and customs issues this route brings.

Don't get me wrong: I'm not totally pro-Amazon, and I wish that they would improve their labour practises... but losing the sheer convenience it brings? In some ways, it's like going back in time.

Do you live close enough to any border? Might as well just get it delivered there and import it yourself.

But I agree with your point. It is really frustrating to find certain things in Swiss shops. And even if you do it is just crazy expensive.

You're right - I do, and I often do :)

But even then, you've got the added hassle of making the trip. And interestingly, amazon.de isn't always great value - it seems to vary more (with weirdly high prices for some things) than I remember from amazon.co.uk. (My impression is that maybe amazon has a smaller presence in Germany, leading them to rely more on 3rd-party, not-fulfilled-by-amazon sellers?)

One positive aspect is that losing my reliance on amazon has led me to discover a couple of quite good Chinese websites - for many small items, I now use either banggood.com or gearbest.com

They don't sell everywhere in the common market?

Switzerland isn't in the EU or EEA, if that's what you meant by "commmon market."

It is in an EEA-like trade regime, though.

Yes, but packages from EU countries are often inspected and duties are levied when applicable. Given the added friction, it's no surprise that the majority of Amazon.de items/sellers in my experience don't ship to Switzerland.

There's many parallels to the Netherlands: people sometimes use Amazon.de, we have our own digital payments system (iDeal), and our own local competitors (Bol.com the traditional big one, and a more recent new entry Coolblue.nl which has also gained a significant foothold).

That said, when I recently wanted to order something online to be sent to Sweden, I was surprised to find that Adlibris indeed only sold books, whereas Bol.com is really more similar to Amazon: it historically started with just books, now has a far wider selection, and does next-day and sometimes same-day delivery.

I guess the lesson is that this "glimpse" of a world without Amazon is really just a glimpse of one of many possible worlds without Amazon.

Many online retailers started out very specialised like that, but the big ones have diversified. I think Adlibris is the odd one out, here.

cdon used to be strictly a website for buying cds online. Now they sell movies, books, computers and even household appliances such as dishwashers and refrigerators.

Webhallen used to sell only games and PC components. While they still maintain a primary focus of that, they now also have categories such as "household appliances", "baby products", "tools and gardening", ...

One thing that made this less of a "pain" was that Sweden also has a really great price comparison site - prisjakt.nu, which actually has a far better UI for finding and comparing products than Amazon does. The only pain is signing up for accounts on new vendor sites. When I lived in Sweden shipping was fast, even from vendors up north. Typically the post was next-day, but vendors would take a day to pack and send so 2-day was the norm (at the default shipping cost).

I've found the same thing here in Japan. I do have Amazon Prime, but kakaku.com is actually a better way to find products, and more often than not Amazon is not the cheapest vendor.

Should we be hoping for the success and spread of a corporation who's successfully lobbied to keep their workers from being paid for hours they spend waiting in security checkpoints at exit? [1] Where bathroom breaks and conversations are counted against you, to the point that workers pee in bottles to avoid being chastised by managers? [2]

I hope the Swedes manage to keep them out.

1. https://www.nytimes.com/2014/12/10/business/supreme-court-ru...

2. https://www.businessinsider.com/amazon-warehouse-workers-hav...

Amazon was extremely late in Europe. Most European countries didn't have established players but mine did so they were never able to growth hack. Next day delivery isn't hard when the country is one big urban area that you can drive from one end to the other in 3 hours, at night at least.

Honestly I expect more competition from ali express than Amazon at this point.

As a norwegian(who has even less access to Amazon than swedes) I don't care about Amazon at all.

Komplett is becoming more like Amazon and recently started listing products from other companies. But as in Sweden it's quite common to use Prisjakt to figure out what web store has the best price on a given product.

Also, I think UX on the Amazon site is terrible compared to Komplett.

Not much books on Komplett :) Amazon to me is still a bookstore.

That's one thing I never really understood about Amazon in Europe. Why not simply rolling out a generic, English Website to countries without localized content?

Sure, things like Prime Music and Prime Video won't work due to licensing issues. But the traditional retail business? Now with Amazon Logistics taking over an increasing share of the last mile deliveries in established markets the legacy carriers like DHL could be leveraged for These markets. Maybe that will come one day.

Until then this absence of a considerable part of Europe presents a huge window of opportunity for Amazon-competitors. And even the same-day deliveries can be provided at least for metropolitan areas using third-party partners like DHL which have a tremendous amount experience in that field by now.

I assume that this window of opportunity will be closing in the near future, Amazon is pretty good in still being faster in closing opportunities than the competition is in exploiting them.

Regarding the geographical issues of Sweden in particular, some remoter parts of Germany, read islands, have the same issue. But right of the bat, next-day for the southern part of Sweden including Denmark should be doable. Same-day for cities like Stockholm largely depends on whether some one is Setting up a dedicated warehouse for that. And for the remainder of Sweden 2-day delivery shouldn't be too difficult to achieve.

Actually, Prime Video and Amazon Music Unlimited are widely available in Europe:

https://www.primevideo.com/ (worldwide)

https://music.video.com/ (several dozen countries, including Finland, Sweden, Poland, Portugal, Bulgaria)

As for retail, Amazon Germany (https://www.amazon.de/) offers English language and free shipping to ~10 European countries, including Sweden and Finland. Belgium, Netherlands and Luxembourg get Prime shipping benefits.

The implementation still leaves a lot to be desired, though - e.g. there is a lot of untranslated content (German reviews, for example).

Yeah, saying Amazon does not have a .se (or .pt in my case) website is disingenuous. I can buy stuff from amazon.es easily, and have free shipping on orders over €20. It will automatically apply the Portuguese VAT as well, so I usually pay a bit more for stuff sold by Amazon than the initially marked price obv.

You're both right. The big difference so is wether there is a dedicated logistics network for a given market in place or not, kind of physical backbone if you like.

The second link should have been https://music.amazon.com/ .

I tried Prime video for a few hours in Sweden but couldn’t find any movies that wasn’t country blocked. Cancelled Prime after that.

"That's one thing I never really understood about Amazon in Europe. Why not simply rolling out a generic, English Website to countries without localized content?"

People don't speak English

Not sure what the definition of "next-day" shipping is. Most electronic stores will send you something so it is in your hand next day if you order before something like 16:00. If you live in the nearby the warehouse ordering in the morning (before noon?) and you will likely receive it the same day.

I've always been flabbergasted every time I've been forced to use amazon. It feels like a site from the 90s, and not in the fast and to the point good way. But in the messy, why on earth do anyone use this site kind of way. How on earth do you find stuff on that site anyway.

Amazon has been talking about opening shop here for at least a decade, I think they've realized that they just won't be able to compete.

I agree, I personally think Amazon's site layout is hideous. I never spend time on the front page, I go straight to the search bar and then straight to the pics and reviews section of the product page. The product pages are often cluttered and ugly as well.

I think the reason the design persists is because Amazon is basically the granddaddy of ecommerce and like Ebay, their old-school look is part of their brand identity. Sure, they'll introduce more and more ads as time goes on, but probably nothing truly dramatic as FB's news feed.

this is not specific to Sweden but big part if not most if the Europe, even when amazon came their website still looks like from 90s and almost everything i checked there cost more than in local shops, so not sure why would anytime support more expensive american company

it's same with Reddit and other american websites, Americans think sites popular in US must be popular everywhere, but for instance Reddit it's pretty much unknown website in Europe and it hardly make it into top 50 or even top 100 sites in most if European countries

google maps are also many times if not almost always worse than OSM by my experience in Asia and Europe

I think a lot of US based techies don’t really know how much better their local services really are compared to the rest of the world. Finland didn’t get Netflix until 2012 and the selection is much less than in the US. The local online auction sites are not that great and nobody here uses Craigslist. Mailing packages is expensive and Fedex etc are for businesses only. To buy from Amazon, I have to go on the German site, Google Translate the page and try to figure out if they will ship here in the first place. Regular order takes almost 2 weeks to arrive. Amazon won’t ship a Kindle here.

I think you are underestimating your services, overestimating the US services or we have a very different experience in sweden vs finland.

I can get next day shipping on most things pretty cheap, and I can buy most stuff I want to buy that way (including a legally mandated return and warranty policy). The difference I think is that most European cities do not need same-day delivery, since they are not built to have the car-heavy suburban sprawl that US cities have. I'd be surprised if you live in any urban area and don't have a walking distance to a store with the sort of things that same-day amazon delivery usually delivers in the US.

And that's before even talking about that same-day is pretty limited in the US.

Amazon won't ship Kindle to Sweden either, but they can still be bought using other online stores.

Personally I use AliExpress more and those times I need a thing tomorrow I use prisjakt to check what local stores have the items and I'll go there by my own. The only times I shop from Amazon is when I look for less common books. If Amazon opened in Sweden it wouldn't really change my online shopping behaviour.

Hey, Australian here, we are doing just fine thanks.

I guess you'd be lucky to get a 'next week' delivery from amazon, right? I'm a swede and I regularly order from amazon.de, and shipping from germany is usually pretty quick.

In Australia the word for Amazon is "eBay", and you can sometimes even get next day delivery!

Right - strange that the article didn't mention Australia.

Price Runner is really nice, and I use it every time I'm shopping online, but recently they started adding foreign sites, as well as prices from pages they don't link to, making the price comparison pretty useless.

So what if someone, somewhere sells the same thing cheaper? Is it cheaper after delivery? What about warranty? What about import taxes (the main reason I'm not buying from the US)?

Their historic price graph is comprised of only the lowest price, which is often a price that is not accessible, because they gather price from foreign sites and sites and non-partner sites (which is almost synonymous with incorrectly price gathering on price runner)

Any good alternatives?

USA offers glimpse of a world without Cdon.

Remember the good old time when cdon only sold cds? And there also was a webshop called dvdon? I never buy things from cdon anymore, there is something about "we have all the things" stores that feels kind of off putting. I don't know, but maybe the illusion(?) of stores selling only one category of products make it seem like they know more about the products than someone that sell everything from socks to lawnmowers and cds.

In Switzerland we don't have Amazon. We have local shops instead, but I miss Amazon customer service (especially the no questions asked return policy).

So often I order from Amazon and import the product myself.

Interesting tidbit: they mention GAFA (Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon), a term I had never heard.

I knew FAANG (+Netflix) but maybe the scope is different, or Netflix is the odd one out for whatever reasons...

The french wiki on GAFAM is really interesting because it gives an outsiders perspective on American tech companies and it is pretty biased [0]. (If you are on chrome, it should offer to auto translate for you and google translate is ridiculously good these days)

Here is one of my favorite qoutes: "In terms of competition, GAFAM has the power to buy up all up-and-coming innovative companies and thus prevent competition from being dethroned (as competition becomes a subsidiary). This situation is often denounced by the European Union , notably by its Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager."

It even coined the term NATU for Netflix, Airbnb, Tesla, and Uber.

[0]: https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/GAFAM

Thanks for the pointer to the French Wikipedia article. I followed the rabbit hole and found this interesting article on the Google Maven fiasco, Microsoft ICE fiasco, and the Amazon Rekognition fiasco: http://www.lefigaro.fr/secteur/high-tech/2018/06/20/32001-20...

I can understand the French/European's perspective because American companies, especially the GAFAM titans, do have a lot of power and influence. I'd say these companies are among the most powerful in the entire history of our civilization.

That being said, it's up to Europe to compete and offer meaningful alternatives to these companies.

My understanding is that GAFA (sometimes GAFAM, including Microsoft) is a european term, while FAANG is an american one.

GAFA is also a fairly well-known acronym for the big empty bit in the middle of Australia, so FAANG or FANAG is less conflicting

I didn't know that. Is it well-known & used outside of Australia?

So can anyone offer an explanation why that's the case? As a German Amazon customer since 2003 I've took it always for granted that every european country has its local Amazon.

For smaller markets it may just not be worth it for them. Next day delivery? Everyone does that. Return policy? Everyone does that.

So whats left for Amazon besides the big brand name? Slash prices.

I guess there's .co.uk, .de and .fr, but are there others?

.es and .it are the other two full retail sites in Europe.

I'm in Denmark. Recently there had been a crack down on VAT dodging on purchases from outside the eu (read China).

If your package gets picked, there is a ~$20 administrative fee charged ontop of the 25% VAT. Most people are pretty ok paying VAT, but the implementation in this case is ridiculous.

Only $20? That actually seems quite reasonable for being caught avoiding taxes. In theory, it should be possible to declare and pay VAT in advance, but I have never figured out how.

Anyway, the penalty used to be much more. I've payed over 300dkk on a 100dkk item years ago.

Amazon.com offers to take care of import taxes for you, and many of the dodgy Chinese sites offers tax-insurance.

If it's the same as here in Switzerland, then it is not about "being caught." It's not a fine. It's a fee. Even if you declare your goods and pay taxes, it costs you a fee every time they check your package.

That might be quite likely.

PostNord operates Denmark as well I think? They’ve brought in the same thing here in Sweden, a 75kr “admin fee” effectively for just handling the VAT processing

Yes - they had some issues delivering packages on time before, then they were basically flooded by a tidal wave of cheap direct import trinkets from China. China somehow has free postage to the rest of the world and eventually people caught on.

For some value of "just".

They have to hold the package in storage, check the invoice and declare the goods, wait for the approval and then take it out of storage for final shipping. The storage bit requires a paper trail (soon to be electronic in Sweden).

If you do the declaration yourself, they still have to hold it in storage and write it off with the customs ID you provide, which is likely more work in the end.

So in any case, a non-trivial amount of labor is involved. And since it's not covered by the Universal Postal Union, they're not obliged to do it at a loss.

Postnord was created when the Danish postal service bought the Swedish one.

Unfortunately, the Danish postal service sucks and hence we now have crappy service.

Other way around. The Swedish state owns 60% of the merger whereas the Danish state owns 40%. Also, the Swedish postal service already sucked even before the merger, but the Danish postal service was a really dumb deal and a money hole, so the merger definitely didn't improve things for anyone.

amazon.se was until recently owned by a Stockholmer who’d been holding out for a deal. What it went for I don’t know, but in the last 6 months it’s been transferred over to Amazon EU. Currently it redirects to a ‘Buying from Sweden?’ page on amazon.de.

I'm in Spain, and when some Amazon Prime orders with two-day shipping get fulfilled from Germany or Italy, I have to wonder whether not having a local Amazon branch makes that much of a difference.

Im in Barcelona and have same day delivery for a lot of stuff, next day delivery for a big selections, and 2 days almost anything on amazon. I get next day deliveries from both the local Amazon warehouse, and sometimes from the South of France. Amazon have their own delivery people here that deliver about 60% of products i order with other delivery companies used for orders coming from out of country.

I wonder if Amazon will offer local sites elsewhere in Central (Guatemala, Costa Rica, Panama) and South America (Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Peru) in the near future?

We have two major online book shops and some minor ones.

So we have.. competition! And book prices are not regulated like in Germany either.

As far as I know, the Swedish just order from Amazon.co.uk, if they can't get something from their Webhallen thingie.

In Belgium and the Netherlands, bol.com is the biggest one. Question is of course if they can keep their market share.

In Greece there's skroutz and bestprice, which are price compare and online store review websites.

Pretty easy for a company to rise to the top when you treat employees like one step above prison labor

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