[Updated July 27 11:12am]: A light version of Amazon Prime, Prime Now has become available in the App Store for Singaporeans (previously only a redirect) as well as the website is live: https://www.amazon.com.sg/primenow.
Updated July 26 6:23pm]: The Amazon Prime Now app has become available to download in Singapore (Prime Now is the two-hour delivery service for Prime members meaning). It can only be downloaded through primenow.amazon.com redirect.
Recent headlines, first reported by TechCrunch, say that the US retail giant is finally (finally) coming to Southeast Asia, Singapore first.
There hasn’t been any official word from Amazon as the company told e27 it would not comment on speculation.
Taking a look at the Amazon website for job postings in Singapore also hasn’t given any further signs of an aggressive hiring spree for local retail employees though it would be wise to keep an eye for updates.
So what points to the retailer’s confirmation landing in Singapore?
Social media influencers.
Popular accounts such as “theramengirl” and “superadrianme“, each with thousands of followers have posted sponsored photos in the last week alluding to Amazon’s Prime service soon to be available in Singapore.
Impact of Amazon in Singapore
Everyone, e-marketplaces and traditional retailers alike, has been holding their breath ever since the circulation of Amazon’s Singapore Q1 launch rumours began in November 2016.
It’s not wrong to be worried if one has followed the disruption caused by Amazon in the US retail industry. Brick and mortar businesses have filed for bankruptcy, 25% of shopping malls in the US are expected to shut down by 2022, and brands (Nike) that were likely to never go ‘marketplace-strategy’ have hopped onto The Everything Store to gain control over third-party pricing and distribution.
In Southeast Asia, ambitious plans to build more stores in the next five months by retailers in Thailand may slow down. Service providers, namely logistics players with strong regional networks, are ready to offer a helping hand in Amazon’s initial business growth but should stay weary if the giant plans to replicate its impressive logistics network in-house in the region.
Alibaba has recently doubled down on its Southeast Asian efforts by investing another $1 billion in Lazada for 83% stake and rumoured to be competing with JD.com Inc to lead a funding round in Tokopedia, one of Indonesia’s largest marketplaces.
JD.com Inc, China’s number two ecommerce player has also announced plans to enter Thailand by end of the year to increase their regional footprint.
Lazada, arguably the leading online retailer in Southeast Asia, began offering a Prime-like membership program called LiveUp in April in hopes of keeping customers loyal.
Sign-ups for the program have been quite healthy, tells a source from Lazada to eIQ.
Aimone Ripa di Meana, co-founder and Chief Marketplace Officer at Lazada, recently commented that Lazada was confident about its position in the region.
“It’s not an easy balance [being local and nimble], but it’s something that we’ve invested a lot of time to get to and I don’t think it’s acquired or built in a day,” says Aimone.
Shopee, another strong contender affected by news of Amazon’s arrival, has also been quite active in strong arming its retail strategy. The once only C2C marketplace announced “Shopee Mall” earlier this month, a new in-app platform that follows the same Lazada B2C model and already offers products from over 200 brands.
Shoppers can enjoy free shipping with no minimum spend and a 15-day return policy when they make a purchase. But will it all be enough?
Survival in one of the last battlegrounds Amazon has not yet stepped into will boil down to which company has successfully created a loyal fan base by fulfilling promised perks of fast shipping, cheap prices and an endless assortment of products.
These are already the cornerstones of Amazon thanks to Bezos’ long-standing and highly touted ‘customer obsession’ and what will ultimately give them an advantage in acquiring shoppers without any heavy marketing.
For those holding their breath, it’s time to let it go because the “Amazon Effect” is coming.
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