Amazon's Australian rollout plans have just been laid out by a former executive of the company - and we finally have a launch date. From next year, Australians will reportedly be able to use the online shopping service to purchase a huge variety of products, including groceries, clothing, electronics and even takeaway food. Here are all the services Australia will be getting: from fresh food delivery to Amazon Prime Now.
Update: A previous version of this story stated that Brittain Ladd was the current global logistics senior manager for Amazon. We have been informed that Ladd is no longer with the company and have amended the article to reflect this.
In an interview with our parent company Fairfax Media, Amazon's former global logistics senior manager, Brittain Ladd, confirmed that the company's shopping rollout will soon include Australia. (While this has been widely reported for months, Amazon has refrained from making any official statements.)
Ladd managed the worldwide expansion of Amazon's fresh and pantry operations from August 2016 to March 2017. During his time at Amazon, he was responsible for designing and implementing strategies and programs focused on expanding Amazon Fresh and Pantry globally.
This included new store formats and functionality, retail supply chain design, web, mobile, and social B2B and B2C operations, large scale network planning and optimisation and sales/operations planning, In other words, he was well positioned to know a thing or two about the company's plans for Australia.
Ladd described Australia as an attractive market for Amazon and said the company would be launching "as many services and products as possible within Australia".
Here's everything that we know so far.
When is Amazon launching in Australia?
According to Ladd, Amazon plans to have its flagship Australian website up and running by the end of 2018. That's a slightly longer wait than we were hoping, but at least we have confirmation it's happening.
What about Amazon Prime Now?
Ladd confirmed Amazon will be launching an Australian version of its premium Prime Now service, which provides faster shipping to members alongside other perks. There's still no word on whether Amazon will be bringing in its own courier service or relying on third parties for delivery.
What is AmazonFresh?
As its name implies, Amazon Fresh specialises in grocery deliveries. It works the same as the main Amazon website, but with an emphasis on fresh food and supermarket goods. Available categories include fruits, vegetables, packaged produce, cheeses, canned and frozen foods, pasta, household supplies and beauty products. Ladd said the Fresh site will be launching in Australia at the same time as the flagship website. Intriguingly, the US version includes a section dedicated to local market produce - hopefully this feature makes it across too.
What about Amazon Go?
Amazon is in the process of launching Amazon Go in the US. This is a chain of physical checkout-free supermarkets that automatically bill shoppers on their smartphone via electronically tagged products when they exit the store.
Aldi and Lidl have proven there's plenty of scope to disrupt the grocery market in Australia - and Amazon is taking notice. According to Ladd, Amazon Go could eventually make it to Australia. Ladd said Amazon Go would only appear "after Amazon has become more established in the country and analysis determines the market will support physical stores."
That's pretty much everything we have thus far. For its part, traditional retailers have remained curiously unmoved by Amazon's impending rollout, with former Wesfarmers CEO Richard Goyder flatly stating: "We're not worried about Amazon or anyone else."
Meanwhile, analysts who were briefed by Amazon claim the online retailer wants to "destroy" the Australian retail industry. According to a recent Credit Suisse report, Myer, Harvey Norman, JB Hi-Fi, Supercheap Auto, Big W, Kmart and Target are all tipped to see revenues smashed by as much as 55 per cent over the next five years.
In the words of Deloitte’s Retail, Wholesale and Distribution Group leader David White: “If Amazon isn’t on the agenda at board meetings for Australian retailers, then it should be.”
We still have a lot of questions about Amazon Australia - particularly surrounding how the range of products will compare to the US, the potential geo-blocking of Amazon.com and whether electronics will be slugged with the usual "Australia tax". Needless to say, we'll be keeping a close eye on this story as it develops. Stay tuned!
We are at the dawn of a new era - and like the dinosaurs who just thought they were having an off day - many Aussie retailers aren’t going to know what’s hit them. In the coming months Amazon will start opening its online doors in Australia. And already locals are seeing an impact.