Online retail juggernaut Amazon has finally launched in Australia just in time for the Christmas shopping season.
The highly-anticipated launch came after months of hype from the American retail company, which has already revolutionised online shopping in its home country.
After the company invested millions on a distribution centre in Melbourne’s east, Amazon finally launched its Australian online store this week.
The company has boasted millions of items will be for sale, with the added bonus of speedy delivery to your door.
With Amazon offering everything from electronics, clothing and kitchenware to sports goods and books, the launch looks set to give tough competition to Australia’s bricks and mortar retailers.
Helen Sofra from Collins Booksellers in Shepparton has already faced strong online competition in the past 10 years and said retailers needed a point of difference.
‘‘We have fantastic customer service and we offer things that you won’t get by clicking,’’ Mrs Sofra said.
The experience of browsing and shopping in a book shop and chatting with the staff about what new products were available was something she did not think could be replicated online.
‘‘On the websites it will say things like ‘if you like this author then you’ll also like this’ and I think ‘no way, that is completely different’,’’ she said.
Another advantage of buying books locally was the book signings, such as by Jimmy Barnes who has visited the Shepparton shop twice to sign copies of his autobiographies.
‘‘Getting up close with Jimmy Barnes was something special, people were so happy to see him here,’’ she said.
Amazon started in 1994 as an online bookseller, but slowly moved into other areas including electronics, furniture and streaming entertainment.
Australians will not have the full offering of products available to United States customers, but the online store does offer delivery across a range of categories.
Mrs Sofra did not know how the launch would impact businesses, but said people should remember the advantages of shopping locally.
‘‘The money stays local and we support the local community,’’ she said.