Can you feel the hype?
After a month of speculation and rumour, the big reveal wasn’t so much a Big Bang as a Giant Fizzle. We expected more – there were once rumours that Amazon would be handing out free ice-creams at train stations around the country.
The prices aren’t very impressive
Although a couple of hundred thousand products dropped on the Australian site last night, there aren’t exactly ‘hundreds of thousands’ of bargains. If you’re looking to save a few dollars, you will have to dig deep and you’ll have to really know what you’re looking for.
We’ve been banging on about the Bose QuietComfort 35s any chance we get, but the cheapest I came across those was a mighty $445, or an even worse $519, depending on the Amazon seller you’re looking at. While the former isn’t anything to sniff at, we’ve seen far better deals over the past month.
There are also some batshit-insane prices on things like USB cables and document scanners running into the tens of thousands of dollars. Most embarrassing of all, the price of Amazon’s Kindle Paperwhite was briefly $20 more on its own site than either JB Hi-Fi or Officeworks.
We expect Amazon will remedy this in the future, as more and more suppliers come on board, but for now, the prices aren’t very impressive – and this isn’t the retail apocalypse that we were promised.
Amazon Australia’s delivery fees aren’t quite as life-changing as many predicted. In order to qualify for Amazon’s free shipping rules, the products have to be eligible products that come from Amazon Australia – otherwise they won’t qualify you for the “free delivery over $49” rule.
Typically, if you’re buying cheaper products from a Marketplace user or a third-party shop not associated with Amazon, your purchase won’t qualify for free shipping – even if the total exceeds $49.
At present, Amazon is suggesting that deliveries will take three to seven business days for major metropolitan capital cities. Priority delivery, which costs you $9.99, will ship within one day. Compared to other services, such as those at JB Hi-Fi, this price is relatively competitive.
Regular delivery pricing, however, is actually more expensive than some Aussie retailers. For example, JB Hi-Fi will deliver items to some customers for as little as $1.69 while Amazon starts at $5.99 for the same address.
How Amazon Prime membership changes things, we’re yet to find out.
Waiting for Prime
On that note, there’s not a lot of information about Amazon Prime in Australia yet, though there is some introductory pricing on their landing page. The key difference at this early stage of the rollout would have to be Amazon’s ability to deliver items cheaply, quickly and consistently – with the current service still using Australia Post, that’s not at all guaranteed.
If Amazon held off and readied Prime for their initial launch into the country, there would have at least been a huge point of difference for consumers to latch on to. As it stands, for most items, it will still seem much easier – and much quicker – to go to a local retailer and physically get the product in your hand (especially at Christmas time).
Not entirely unexpected but the lack of PayPal integration is a little strange for Australian consumers, who have the protections in place across most online marketplaces. It also makes things a little more convoluted – another account, another password to remember, another bunch of personal details on the internet.
Another potential to make the user experience a little more frustrating.
While PayPal isn’t a complete safeguard against fraud, the peace of mind that comes with using it and the convenience of systems like OneTouch just makes the checkout process so much easier.
Some of the most popular consumer tech products are nowhere to be seen on Amazon Australia. For example, while Xbox games are available – and pleasantly affordable – the console itself is almost completely AWOL. (There are no Xbox Ones, no Xbox One Xs and only a kiddy Minecraft edition of the Xbox One S.)
During the first few hours of launch, TVs were also missing, although the site has since been populated with several brands. Nevertheless, if you were hoping for a one-stop shop for all your Christmas needs, Amazon in its current form is not going to deliver. Well, at least we can buy cheap digital radios…
Amazon Australia are constantly adding more products, so this might be a wait-and-see scenario rather than a straight condemnation.
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