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UPDATED: Amazon to soft launch in Australia this Thursday

Amazon will soft launch in Australia this Thursday, according to sources who spoke on condition of anonymity.

The e-commerce giant sent an email to some Marketplace sellers in Australia, instructing them to prepare to receive orders from 2pm AEST on Thursday, 23 November.

According to the email, which Internet Retailing has viewed, select customers will be able to make purchases starting on Thursday afternoon.

It is now understood that these customers will be local Amazon employees. However, sellers have been instructed to fulfil the orders as normal.

The company reportedly plans to promote its upcoming launch by handing out free ice cream at train stations across the country, according to Scott Kilmartin, an e-commerce consultant and creator of the ‘David vs Amazon’ podcast.

Kilmartin, who owns an ice cream stand business, told Internet Retailing he was contacted by a company that is organising an event for online retail store with yellow/orange branding, the colour of Amazon’s logo.

Kilmartin initially received an inquiry about supplying ice cream for an event on Thursday afternoon at Southern Cross Station in Melbourne, but he said the event no longer appears to be happening on that day. The event company appears to be exploring other dates.

Amazon declined to respond to a request for comment, but at an event in Sydney last week, Amazon Australia country manager Rocco Braeuniger said the company would launch its first-party retail offering and third-party Marketplace offering simultaneously in Australia.

This means that some products on offer will be sold by the e-commerce giant, which buys items directly from suppliers and manufacturers and sets its own prices, and some products will be sold by third-party sellers, who control the price and delivery of items sold on Marketplace.

As Internet Retailing first reported earlier this month, leading online retailers Styletread and Costumes.com.au will be among the hundreds of sellers offering products on Amazon Marketplace at launch.

We can also confirm that major apparel retailers and brands, including Bendon Lingerie and Mitch Dowd, will sell through Marketplace at launch.

Chief executive of Mitch Dowd Dane Totham said the brand would make its full range of men’s, women’s and kids’ underwear, sleepwear and socks available on Amazon.

These items are currently predominantly sold through the major department and discount department stores, but retailers typically stock only a tiny portion of the brand’s entire range.

Totham said Amazon would allow the brand to get closer to consumers and give them more choice. (Mitch Dowd also sells direct-to-consumers online and through marketplaces like Ebay and The Iconic.)

“It’s where consumers are moving more to. You need to be where consumers,” he said.

Totham is unsentimental about what this shift means for the department store retailers that currently stock Mitch Dowd products, though he doesn’t believe it’s necessarily a death knell.

“Change is inevitable. Embrace it and get on with it,” he said.

A source who works at a major multibrand fashion company that plans to sell through Marketplace summed up the impact Amazon will have on different corners of the retail sector.

“We’re in the lucky position that we’re in a vertical market…[Amazon] will be good for us. They’re going to push carriers to provide better services for the customer and for other brands. But it may be difficult for some retailers that are not vertical, that are on-selling other brands,” the source said.

Editor’s note: This article was updated with Amazon’s reply and further information on 22 November, 2017.

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