Amazon Australia looks set to launch its full-blown marketplace locally on Friday 24 November, which happens to be the day this year given over to the shopping bonanza that is Black Friday, the day immediately following the Thanksgiving holiday in the United States.
While Black Friday is typically a US phenomenon, it has also generated traction locally, with some retailers in Australia latching on to the idea, offering extended trading hours and special sales, in an effort to boost trade.
Amazon reportedly confirmed the Friday launch in an email sent to its list of local sellers this week.
It is understood that the Friday launch will follow “soft launch” on Thursday, 23 November, according to several media outlets, including Lifehacker, which has published the purported email from Amazon.
“To prepare for the launch of the Amazon Marketplace in Australia we will start an internal testing phase with a small number of customers on Thursday 23 November 2017, 2pm AEST,” the email stated.
“Once you have passed Seller Identity Verification you will be part of this testing phase and you should be prepared to receive orders from this point onwards.
“We are very excited to have you on board during this testing phase. Let’s Make History!” it said.
While neither the email nor the official launch date have been confirmed or corroborated by Amazon Australia, it appears to be fairly well established that Amazon has for some time planned to launch its local marketplace in time for the Black Friday sales.
“Amazon’s launch marks a major shake-up for Australian retailers,” SAP’s head of Hybris Australia and New Zealand, Stuart O’Neill, said in a statement issued on 22 November. “And the US giant has chosen to open its doors in time for Black Friday sales and the Christmas period, allowing consumers to test how convenient its service can be during the busiest retail periods of the year.”
O’Neill went on to say that, not only does the Amazon Australia launch represent a new, digital outlet for small retailers to reach their audiences, but it will hopefully increase the focus on customer experience across the entire retail industry.
“A rising tide lifts all boats – and hopefully Australia’s retail sector will look at Amazon’s launch as a challenge to meet consumer expectations,” he said.
It had already been established that Amazon Australia could be shipping locally by December, with its country manager, Rocco Braeuniger, suggesting at an open day for prospective sellers held in Sydney on 13 November that it was “really close” to opening in Australia.
"Let me tell you we are getting really, really close," Braeuniger told about 600 prospective product merchants at the event.
For local electronics and IT product sellers, both wholesale and retail, Amazon Australia represents both an opportunity and a threat, with some incumbents looking set to lose out on market share to the US online retail giant while others hope it will see online retail surge across the board, regardless of the seller.
JB Hi-Fi’s group chief executive officer, Richard Murray, has certainly expressed confidence of his company’s position in the local market in the face of a potential Amazon arrival.
“If we continue to keep on the money on price and we have the lowest cost of doing business — that is really powerful,” Murray said, during an American Chamber of Commerce lunch late last year, according to International Business Times.
“Across a basket of goods we want to be the best value in the market. Today we know we are and we plan to stay that way,” said.
Likewise, founder of online retailer, Kogan, Ruslan Kogan, has previously dismissed concerns that Amazon’s arrival might harm his business, which snapped up the online business of failed electronics retailer, Dick Smith, last year.
"Amazon will hurt some retailers no doubt but the ones they'll hurt are the ones that are selling the same thing as everybody else at fat margins," Kogan reportedly told AAP last year.