E-commerce giant Amazon will hit the ground running when it launches in Australia, judging by a surge in interest in Amazon’s local and overseas sites by Australian consumers this year.
Monthly searches for anything “Amazon” have jumped 93 per cent since July, according to data compiled by Hitwise, with momentum building month by month as consumers anticipate the online retailer’s arrival.
The data provides further evidence that retailers selling technology products, especially computer hardware and accessories, video games, mobiles and office products, are likely to bear the brunt of Amazon’s expansion.
Toy, health and beauty, clothing and homewares retailers will also feel the pinch, judging by the level of interest from Australian consumers viewing and purchasing from Amazon’s US and British sites.
Excluding Kindle e-readers, toys were the most purchased product category for Australian consumers shopping on Amazon’s US site in March, followed by personal consumers, electronics, health and beauty products (particularly vitamins and supplements), apparel and kitchen appliances and homewares, according to Hitwise.
Product views for personal computers and electronics were only slightly higher than views for toys, suggesting that Australian parents are heading straight to Amazon to buy popular toys that have not yet launched in Australia or have sold out, such as Hatchimals and Frozen dolls.
“These are savvy shoppers, not browsers,” said Hitwise Asia-Pacific general manager Harley Giles. “They may have done their research elsewhere and gone to Amazon to buy it.”
Product views of personal computers by Australian consumers on Amazon.com are high, suggesting that shoppers are researching multiple brands and products before they buy.
The top-selling technology items being purchased on Amazon.com by Australians include Intel Core desktop processors, EVGA gaming graphics cards and SanDisk cards.
“Given many of the top products categories Australian consumers are already purchasing off Amazon are within the technology space, we believe this category will be impacted more than any other sector,” Mr Giles said, confirming fears of analysts who believe JB Hi-Fi and Harvey Norman will be among the hardest hit.
Amazon is expected to wipe 16 per cent off discretionary retailer earnings within years of entering Australia, according to recent surveys of fund managers and brokers by UBS.
The Hitwise data shows that that many Australian consumers are comparing products and prices on Australian websites with those on Amazon sites.
For example, 55.2 per cent of visitors to JB Hi-Fi’s online store, 55.6 per cent of visitors to Kogan.com and 54.1 per cent of Harvey Norman browsers also searched Amazon.com.
Book lovers and fashionistas are also comparing prices. Hitwise data shows 65.8 per cent of visitors to Dymocks.com.au also searched Amazon.com, as did 55.7 per cent of Myer’s online visitors and 57.7 per cent of David Jones’ online shoppers.
Also popular on Amazon.com in March were products not readily available in Australia, such as Hoerev women’s yoga/pilates pants, Crest whitening toothpaste, Real Techniques Miracle complexion sponge, Western Digital’s portable external hard drive and Fisher-Price Thomas and Friends mini trains.
Australians have little interest in browsing Amazon’s groceries category, but purchases of goods such as protein powders, baby food and even coffee are “relatively” high.
Amazon confirmed retailers’ worst fears last month, flagging plans to roll out its full suite of products and services in Australia during the next few years.
Hitwise data also shows that Amazon’s US site is more popular with Australian men than women and the average shopper is younger than that on Amazon.com.au, which st present sells only Kindle books and Kindle content.
In recent months Amazon has made it harder for Australian shoppers to buy certain products from its US site, restricting purchases of products such as Echo speakers and Fire TV sticks (one of the most popular products on Amazon.com) to customers with a US postal address and US-issued credit card.
Industry sources believe the move may be aimed at protecting Amazon’s future business in Australia and stoking interest ahead of a drip-feed of new products and categories, starting with technology.
Hitwise believes Amazon’s expansion will trigger a major shake-up of the retail industry and has been developing a comprehensive data set that will underpin a soon-to-be-launched retail analytics product. This product will help online retailers better understand consumer engagement and purchasing of specific products, categories and brands across the online retail sector.
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