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Amazon stops geoblocking Australia just in time for Christmas

25 November 2018 by Michelle Lewis 0 Comments

It's like an early Christmas present,,,Amazon.com has stopped geoblocking Australians from accessing its much larger US site.  

Its an Amazon Christmas

Responded to "customer feedback"

"As a result of customer feedback, from 22 November Amazon customers will be able to ship eligible items from amazon.com to Australian delivery addresses."

Since July 2018, shoppers in Australia trying to browse on Amazon.com have been redirected to the local site, Amazon.com.auThe option for shipping to Australia from Amazon.com was also removed at the same time.

The moves limited Australians to shopping on the Amazon Australian site which is about 1/9th the size of its American parent.  There are only about 80 million products on the Australian store versus 500 million on the US site.

Just in time for Christmas

The changes came into affect on 22 November which means if you get a scoot on, there is still time for Christmas browsing and purchasing. 

According to Amazon.com standard shipping to Australian cities takes 9-13 days, while priority shipping is 4-8 days. Of course, there are additional shipping costs to add on to the purchase price so be careful if you are looking for a 'bargain buy'.

Of course if a buyer signs up to Amazon Prime - and why wouldn't you - those shipping timeframes and costs are significantly reduced.

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Amazon Australia not doing so well

“It’s a very quick backtrack on a decision that obviously hasn’t benefited them. It’s probably a reflection on the Amazon Australia website not being great. I think to bolster the Australian website they’ve had to do this.”

That's the view of Daniel Mueller, an analyst at Vertium Asset Management, as reported in IT News

It's difficult to find actual facts on how the site is currently performing but we do know it had a very quiet start which did not match the launch hype. In fact, Australians spent 2000 per cent more at department store Myer than on Amazon Australia last December, which was the first month of Amazon's local operation.

Amazon has been looking at ways to build customer loyalty to the Amazon brand ever since. In June 2018 Amazon began offering its paid Amazon Prime subscription service in Australia. This was a way around the geoblock.

Australians pay less than a third the price of Prime in the US, where it costs US$12.99 ($17.50). A Prime subscription costs $4.99 in Australia with an introductory offer that runs until 31 January 2019 before rising to $6.99. 

Customers get free two-day delivery to major metro areas, including all state and territory capitals other than Darwin and a host of larger cities such as Armidale, Geelong and the Sunshine Coast. 

Prime also offer free standard international delivery on orders over $49, as well as typical Prime perks including access to the Prime Video streaming service.

Why Amazon blocked us in the first place

If you thought that Amazon had blocked us from their home site to force trade onto their local Amazon.com.au site - you'd be wrong.

In fact, Australia was the first market in the world to be locked out. The action was a response to the Australian Government’s ruling on Goods and Services Tax. 

The geoblock followed a change in Australian tax regulation requiring businesses earning more than $75,000 AUD per year to charge its 10 percent Goods and Services Tax (GST) on low value items imported by consumers.

The so-called ‘Amazon Tax’ was drawn up in response to concerns about the impact of Amazon and other large overseas e-commerce businesses on local retailers which have to apply GST to all products they sell.

A loophole had meant GST was only applied to items purchased from overseas retailers worth $1,000 AUD or more — so local competitors argued it gave Amazon, eBay  and other overseas competitors an unfair advantage.

Six months later Amazon has backtracked. And seemingly decided to suck up the 10 percent tax after all.

An Amazon spokesman told Reuters it had changed its mind after listening to customer feedback, adding it had built the “complex infrastructure needed to enable exports of low-value goods to Australia and remain compliant with [local] laws.”

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