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Amazon for Kiwis is now open for business

After a soft launch last week, Amazon has officially opened its website to Australian and New Zealand customers. But are shipping costs and waiting periods worth it for Kiwi customers?

It has been said that the Australian retail landscape will be changed as we know it. The arrival of Amazon even has Kiwi retailers worrying about their own future in the market.

With all the hype surrounding Amazon as this large, sell-all, fast-shipping retail behemoth, the question of whether the savings are worth it to Kiwis has been overlooked.

A simple price comparison shows the prices on brands sold in New Zealand stores are not that much different to those on Amazon's Australian website. Pharmacy beauty brands differ only a few dollars, whereas some labels like Maybelline and L'Oréal can be found for the same price or cheaper at our own department stores, such as The Warehouse.

The few dollars in that make Amazon a cheaper alternative are usually cancelled out by shipping costs. The US version of Amazon has a $50 shipping fee for all New Zealand orders, a hefty price to pay for an average cart price of $120.

Some items on Amazon AU don’t ship to New Zealand, with the site claiming, “no sellers are currently delivering this item to New Zealand.”

With Amazon's distribution model, some retailers still hold their own stock yet sell through the site. If a seller doesn’t ship to New Zealand, then the goods are still unavailable to Kiwis, listed on the site or not. Amazon is not targeting New Zealand currently, so it is unsurprising its distribution model in Melbourne would focus solely on its Australian customers. Amazon for Kiwis at this stage is still a privilege, not a right. 

Shipping through Amazon to New Zealand depends on the product and how much is ordered. Shipping averages out at around $9, yet some brands offer free delivery even through Amazon. Shipping is dependent on the brands being purchased as well as how large the item is.

All orders over $49 are free to all parts of Australia. Yet other smaller purchases seem to be determined by a percentage basis: the cheaper the item, the cheaper the shipping. With larger, more expensive items, such as TVs and other electronics, the shipping rate is determined by the brand and their usual rate.

Pricewise Amazon is cheaper, even when the exchange rate is applied. But for a purchase to be worth the shipping and waiting period of up to two weeks, shoppers should plan purchases in advance as bulk orders work better through the site. Brands that are not in New Zealand are plentiful on the site, meaning Kiwi consumers now have a lot more options for online browsing, even just out of general interest. 

Yet Kiwis can now browse through some Australian brands for new and exciting products. The website is fully live and itself is an experience of one of the biggest retail offerings now available to our shores.

This story first appeared at The Register.

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