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Amazon Australia plans to launch by Black Friday

The US e-commerce giant is likely to launch in Australia within two weeks. Get your wallets ready.

Australians will soon have access to the wonders of Amazon online shopping.
Ben Fox Rubin/CNET

Australians have been patiently waiting and now the time has come: Amazon expects to launch down under within two weeks.

The world's biggest online retailer is contacting sellers advising them to get their products online and ready to sell by "mid-November," according to emails seen by CNET. The company adds in the emails that Amazon Marketplace, which lets other company sell their wares on Amazon's sites, "will hopefully be launching for Black Friday."

Two people familiar with Amazon's plans confirmed that Amazon's goal is to go live by Black Friday, which lands on Nov. 24. But the final launch date is still yet to be confirmed as the company races to finalise its plans in time for the holiday shopping season, both people said.

Amazon has been "pushing hard" to launch by that date to hit one of the biggest sales days of the holiday shopping season, according to one of those sources, Peter Kearns of 180Commerce, a US company that provides services for Amazon sellers. He added that Amazon has been actively recruiting sellers from both the US and Australia to help fill the virtual shelves of its new Australia storefront.

Amazon didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

The Australia roll out is part of Amazon's broader global expansion, as it works to keep up its rapid growth and fend off competitors like Alibaba and Walmart. Amazon brought its popular Prime membership service to China and India last year and bought Middle East e-commerce site Souq.com this year.

The Black Friday plans offer the first hard date from Amazon for when it plans to open in Australia. On Monday, Amazon Australia country manager Rocco Braeuniger took to the stage at an Amazon Seller Summit in Sydney, saying the company was launching "really, really soon."

The choice of Black Friday makes sense for a massive US company like Amazon. The day after the US Thanksgiving holiday, Black Friday has long marked the start of holiday shopping in the US. In recent years, Black Friday has turned into one of the biggest trading days for both online and brick-and-mortar stores.

Now Amazon wants to capture some of that lightning in Australia.

Until now, Amazon's presence in Australia has been limited to selling Kindle devices and e-books, its enterprise cloud computing platform Amazon Web Services, and the subscription Amazon Prime Video service, which launched in December last year

While anticipation from Australian consumers (and trepidation from rival retailers) has only increased in recent months, the company has kept tight-lipped about launch plans in what will be its next major global market. In January this year, the company quietly began a hiring spree, advertising more than 100 roles including positions in its AmazonFresh grocery delivery department.

In April, the company officially confirmed rumours of an expansion into Australia, before unveiling the location of its first fulfillment centre -- a 24,000 square metre warehouse on the outskirts of Melbourne, Victoria. The company also added to the hype by announcing a further hiring spree and plans to stock the warehouse with "hundreds of thousands of products."

Now, we have a clearer idea of what those products will be. At Monday's Seller Summit, Amazon confirmed it will launch in Australia with its own retail range of products as well as products from third parties, sold through Amazon Marketplace.

Amazon trotted a number of these sellers onstage, including the heads of Australian baby accessories company Hip Cub, camera lens brand Gobe and anti-ageing skincare brand Vidi. Between blasts of motivational pop music, the sellers spruiked the benefits of being on Amazon for growing sales, reaching global markets and earning a "seven figure salary."

The company also used Monday's event to promote its Fulfillment by Amazon program -- a service that lets sellers use Amazon's warehouse as a central hub to store, pack and ship their products to customers.

As for Amazon's fabled two-day shipping, Aussies may have to wait on that front. The company gave no word about who it would use for shipping and what delivery times Australians could expect. But one seller who appeared on stage let slip that Australians could expect two-day delivery when Amazon Marketplace is up and running.

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