In a terrifying 24 hours, online retail giant Amazon has leaked its Australian attack plans, acquired an eastern e-commerce giant, initiated pilot pick up services in Seattle and released a commercial contact centre hosted in the Amazon Web Services cloud.
Starting at the top, Fairfax and other Australian media outlets have confirmed the online juggernaut aims to be fully operational here by Christmas 2018, with one executive telling the Sydney Morning Herald, that Amazon plans to “launch as many services and products as possible" across Australia.
According to local reports, the half-a-trillion online retailer is toying with setting up its flagship website in Australia to offer an Australian version of its Prime Now program (offering instant shipping to members on products as diverse as books to burgers); groceries from its Amazon Fresh service; or from its Amazon Go concept – frictionless, checkout-free shopping that tracks your items and bills you as you leave.
The potential impact of a fully operational Amazon on Australian sectors as diverse as financial services, logistics and retail is eye-watering. Google Trends data suggests that globally, Amazon is now pulling far beyond its nearest rival, eBay.
Comfortably rising into the top three global retailers, Amazon’s revenue is growing like a start-up, by 29 per cent last quarter for a total of $US136 billion last year.
The same DNA
On Tuesday, Amazon turned its attention to the Middle East, announcing the acquisition of online marketplace Souq.com, the largest site in the region attracting over 45 million visits per month.
The deal – the value was not disclosed – allows Amazon to absorb the entire Souq business and re-imagine the e-commerce markets of the Arab world in its own image.
“Amazon and souq.com share the same DNA – we’re both driven by customers, invention, and long-term thinking,” Russ Grandinetti, Amazon senior vice president for international consumer, said in a statement.
According to its website, with local operations in Egypt and Saudi Arabia, the Dubai-based Souq has 8.4 million different products across consumer electronics, fashion and household goods.
"This is a milestone for the online shopping space in the region," Souq.com co-founder Ronaldo Mouchawar added.
The news came as Amazon, Wednesday, released Connect, a contact centre as a service offering hosted in the Amazon Web Services (AWS) cloud.
According to a statement, Amazon Connect is a completely cloud-based contact centre platform that AWS says can be set up in minutes and customized and used by line of business workers. It can accept incoming and make outgoing calls, including optional toll-free numbers.
Customizable features include hours of operation, queues to route calls to specific agents, creation of prompts and analytics to monitor the system. Like other cloud-based contact centre offerings, it requires no on-premises hardware and is billed on a pay-as-you-go model instead of a per-seat license, which is the typical on-premises call centre software model.
The move is AWS’ latest incursion into the growing cloud-based contact centre software market and its rich cousin, the enterprise communications market. In February, Amazon released Chime, a cloud-based Unified Communication as a Service (UCaaS) offering.
Meanwhile, a sleepless Amazon, began live-testing its Amazon Fresh Pickup service on Wednesday in Seattle.
Open only to Amazon employees, but eventually to be rolled out to Amazon’s $US99-a-year Prime loyalty customers, the pilot service is testing online groceries purchases where the customer drives to a pick-up location and crews deliver items to the car.