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Amazon Australia has launched: Here's what's on offer

With 23 categories, one-day shipping and the promise of Prime... Amazon has finally launched in Australia, and it's going big.

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Ben Fox Rubin/CNET

Australia has spent the past weeks (and months) in a dizzying flurry of anticipation and now finally, the time has come. 

Amazon.com.au has gone live. 

The world's largest e-tailer sent the fully-fledged version of its Australian retail site live on Tuesday, finally giving Australian customers a look at what Amazon.com.au will offer. The site has hosted a Kindle store since 2013, but now, Aussies can get much more than just eBooks. 

The store launched with 23 categories, including electronics, DVDs, PCs and software, as well as more general merchandise like clothing, baby and beauty products.  

Amazon.com.au is also selling Kindle eReaders (which were previously only available through third-party retailers) and the Fire TV Stick -- a small stick that plugs direct into your TV to let you stream services like Amazon Prime Video and Netflix.

Here's the basic rundown of what Amazon is offering:

  • 23 product categories, including Kindle and Fire TV
  • Amazon retail offering plus Amazon Marketplace (third-party sellers)
  • Australia-wide delivery
  • Free delivery on orders over AU$49
  • 1 business day delivery to eastern metro for AU$9.99
  • 1-2 business day delivery to Perth for AU$11.99
  • Prime shipping from mid-2018
  • Amazon Alexa voice assistant and Echo speaker launching early 2018
  • Delivery through a number of logistics partners (Amazon does not specify which delivery services it uses)

It's a decent showing for Amazon.com.au's first day of trading as an online department store, but still a fraction of what Amazon offers Stateside. In the US, the retailing behemoth is offering everything from fresh groceries to music and video streaming, as well as the Amazon Echo range of smart speakers, powered by its voice assistant Alexa.

We know Amazon will launch at least some of its Echo range in Australia, alongside Alexa and Amazon Music Unlimited, in early 2018. And we can expect fresh grocery delivery, too -- the company has been quietly hiring for its AmazonFresh business since the start of the year, though there's no official launch news on this front.

Amazon Prime and Shipping

The Amazon Prime shipping service has also been a game-changer in online shopping, offering unlimited free delivery for $99 a year, and delivery times as low as two hours in some areas of the US.

We now know Amazon Prime is coming to Australia, but not in time for launch. Amazon says it will bring Prime shipping benefits to Aussies from mid-2018, though there's no word yet on what it will cost or exactly what perks it will offer. Amazon has been able to offer two-hour shipping in the US thanks a strong network of fulfilment centres. In Australia, the company is starting with one warehouse on the outskirts of Melbourne, so instant gratification might be a while off.

For items "sold and fulfilled by Amazon" (as opposed to third-party sellers) Amazon is promising the following delivery times:

Amazon's quoted shipping times at launch.

Screenshot by Claire Reilly/CNET

So where to from here? There's no doubt local retailers will see the impact of Amazon -- the company posted worldwide sales of $43.7 billion for the third quarter of 2017 and experts suggest it will aim to undercut Aussie retailers by 30 percent. A pre-Christmas launch also means plenty of Australians will start clicking around as shopping season heats up.

But it's still early days for the local site and the hype is strong -- it remains to be seen if shoppers stick around for the long haul.

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