E-commerce giant Amazon launched its Australian operations on Tuesday, with the local website going live and taking orders along with free shipping offers.
The online retailer is offering free shipping nationwide for purchases over A$49 (US$37.3), with millions of products available from clothes to sporting goods to consumer electronics, Reuters reports.
Amazon’s Australia country manager, Rocco Braeuniger, said in a statement that the US company will “earn the trust” of Australian shoppers and, over time, create “thousands of new jobs”.
Australia has long been home to Amazon-registered sellers, but until Tuesday they were limited to sending goods offshore because the US-based firm did not have a warehouse in Australia. That meant Australians had to wait longer times, and pay higher fees, for shipping.
The company has now set up a massive distribution warehouse on the outskirts of Melbourne city, on the country’s east coast where four-fifths of the population live.
Under the free delivery offer, Amazon said it estimates delivery times as short as three business days in the cities of Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Canberra – home to half the country’s population – while shipping to remote areas could take 10 days.
Shoppers could pay a fee for faster shipping times.
The launch establishes Amazon as an aggressive presence in the sluggish Australian retail sector, just as shopkeepers were hoping for a rush of sales over the important Christmas holiday season.
The company said it plans to offer its rapid-shipping subscription service, Prime, in mid-2018, in a sign it is unperturbed by the geographic challenge posed by one of the world’s most sparsely populated countries.
Australia is the size of the mainland United States, with one-thirteenth its population.
Australian retail shares have fallen sharply since Amazon confirmed plans for the country in April. Shares of top department store operator Myer Holdings are down 30 percent since that time, the report noted.
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