AMAZON is finally here, and it’s meh.
That appeared to be the general reaction from Aussie shoppers on Tuesday, who after months of fevered anticipation logged on to the e-commerce giant’s local site to access the much-hyped bargains — only to find prices were more or less the same as local retailers.
And in an embarrassing oversight for Amazon, its own Kindle Paperwhite e-reader is $20 cheaper at Officeworks, $159 compared with $179.
“So Amazon has launched,” tweeted Andy Hayes. “The Aussie retailers breathe a sigh of relief as they realise that the range is awful and the prices are exactly the same. No competition here.”
You can grab an iPhone 7 Plus 128GB for $1199 at JB Hi-Fi compared with $1375 on Amazon, while a GoPro Hero 5 camera is $499 at JB Hi-Fi and $560 on Amazon. A Lenoxx 9-inch Twin Screen Portable DVD player, which retails for $149 on Kogan.com, is $172.38 plus $9.45 delivery on Amazon.
A Samsung T3 500GB Portable SSD hard drive is $299 plus $10 delivery on Amazon, and just $288 from Officeworks. And if you’re a Pete Evans fan, his new cookbook One Pot Favourites will set you back $39.99 on Amazon as opposed to $27.99 plus $4.99 shipping from MightyApe.
The site has also experienced a number of glitches.
Shoppers attempting to purchase the Fire TV streaming device, which was being offered to Australian customers for the first time, received an error page. Others complained about the lack of a wishlist function available on the US site.
Meanwhile, some items are actually cheaper to purchase on the Amazon US site and have shipped to Australia.
The Microplane ribbon grater costs $29.95 plus $9.90 delivery on Amazon Australia, compared with $US18.16 ($24) plus free shipping to Australia from Amazon US, where you can similarly pick up a vinyl of Alice Cooper’s Paranormal for $US23.72 ($31.21) compared with $54.99.
There are some bargains to be had, however.
Amazon is selling Nintendo Switch consoles for $399, significantly cheaper than $469 at JB Hi-Fi, while a Garmin Vivofit Jr. kids fitness tracker is $50 on Amazon compared with $89 at JB Hi-Fi, and the popular Giorgio Armani Luminous Silk Foundation is $93.09 on Amazon compared with $99 at Sephora.
You can also get a Bose Soundlink Revolve Bluetooth Speaker for $268 on Amazon, compared with $299 at JB Hi-Fi, and Bourjois Rouge Velvet Lipstick is $18.76 compared with $24 at Priceline.
Gamers can grab a copy of Star Wars Battlefront II for the PlayStation 4 or Xbox one for $39 compared with $59 at JB Hi-Fi, and a popular skin mist from beauty brand Caudalie is about $10 cheaper on Amazon than Sephora, $66.50 compared with $76.
Graham Cooke, insights manager with comparison website Finder.com.au, said it seemed Amazon was still “trying to find its feet”.
“There has been so much backwards and forwards about this and all the talk has been about pricing, how they’re going to undercut local retailers and offer prices cheaper than anyone else,” he said.
“Now the site has launched, it’s not what we’re seeing, at least not initially. Amazon is very much finding its feet in terms of pricing, which could be why we’re not seeing some high-end items such as TVs, because they haven’t worked out how to make them cheaper than the other heavy discounters.”
He added that some deals look good but “when you get down to the nitty gritty, they’re not really”. The popular Bose Quiet Comfort 35 Noise Cancelling headphones, for example, are on Amazon for $445 versus $499 at JB Hi-Fi, but “we’ve seen these discounted as cheaply as $380 recently in the Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales”.
Wearables such as FitBits “tend to be the same price or cheaper elsewhere”, and UK site Book Depository appears to have better prices at the moment, Mr Cooke said.
“The biggest price differential I’ve seen is a high-volume office scanner from Kodak, which is $87,162 on Amazon but available for $79,899 elsewhere. But you need to be in a very specific market for that anyway.”
Mr Cooke pointed to nappies as one example of Amazon failing to properly localise its range. “In Australia nappies tend to be bought by and sold by the developmental stage, such as infant, newborn, crawler, toddler, junior,” he said.
“In the US they’re sold by size, one, two, three, four, five, six. They’re listing nappies on Amazon by size and in a lot of cases not mentioning the developmental stage of the child those nappies are for.”