Amazon starts Australian trial after months of hype

Australia has long had Amazon-registered sellers but they have been limited to sending goods offshore as Amazon had no warehouse in the country. (Reuters)
Updated 23 November 2017
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Amazon starts Australian trial after months of hype

SYDNEY: Amazon.com’s Australian arm began an order-taking trial on Thursday, giving life to the hype which has preceded its arrival in the world’s No. 12 economy and weighed on the shares of the brick-and-mortar retail sector.
The trial kicked off at 3pm with the Amazon Australia website’s search box filling in product names automatically. A representative for Amazon, which has never given a start date for Australia, declined to comment.
“It’s obviously working because auto-population is there,” said Liz Cassidy, founder of Amazon-registered beauty products retailer Third Sigma.
Cassidy, who already sells product overseas via Amazon, said she had made no Australian sales in the first hour, but noted that the trial involved a limited number of shoppers.
Australia has long had Amazon-registered sellers but they have been limited to sending goods offshore as Amazon had no warehouse in the country. Until now, Australians have had to wait long periods and pay sizable shipping costs for deliveries.
While online vendors are excited about the opportunities, Australia’s more traditional shopkeepers have faced pressure to convince investors they can compete against the US giant since it confirmed its plans for Australia in April.
Shares of Harvey Norman, Australia’s biggest electronics retailer, are down 9 percent since April 17, the day before Amazon said it was coming to Australia. Shares of Australia’s biggest department store chain Myer Holdings Ltd. are down 39 percent.
“It’s not as if the majority of retailers in Australia are making a fortune and growing their businesses,” said Gerry Harvey, executive chairman of Harvey Norman.
“If you’re in clothes and shoes and handbags, you can’t take a lot more pressure.”
Amazon set up its warehouse in Australia’s second-biggest city of Melbourne, on the east coast where four-fifths of the country’s 24 million people live.
Shoppers will watch delivery times closely with Christmas just around the corner.
“It will be really interesting to see whether it lives up to the hype,” said Tim McKinnon, the Australian managing director for eBay Inc, an Amazon competitor.
Some shoppers took to social media to voice frustration that the Amazon Australia website had not begun taking orders publicly.


Gulf countries strengthen oil coordination amid tensions: Kuwait

Updated 20 May 2019
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Gulf countries strengthen oil coordination amid tensions: Kuwait

  • ‘It is normal amid this escalation that Kuwait and the Gulf Cooperation Council countries take these steps’
  • Kuwait was in ‘constant contact’ with its ally, the US

KUWAIT CITY: Kuwait’s deputy foreign minister said countries in the Gulf have strengthened coordination to provide oil to global markets amid increased regional tensions.
“It is normal amid this escalation that Kuwait and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries take these steps,” Khalid Al-Jarallah told reporters late Sunday on the sidelines of a Ramadan sit-down organized by the Iraqi embassy.
“There is cooperation and coordination between Kuwait and the Gulf countries to provide guarantees for oil tankers and continuous supply of energy to global markets.”
Jarallah’s comments come days after sabotage attacks against tankers in highly sensitive Gulf waters and the bombing of a Saudi pipeline — the latter claimed by Iran-aligned Yemeni rebels.
Both attacks targeted routes built as alternatives to the Strait of Hormuz, the conduit for almost all Gulf exports.
The US Fifth Fleet headquartered in Bahrain said the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council began “enhanced security patrols” Saturday in international waters, in “tight coordination with the US navy.”
Iran has repeatedly threatened to close the strait in case of war with the United States, which earlier this month announced it was sending an aircraft carrier and strike group to the region.
Kuwait’s deputy foreign minister said “tension was escalating quickly” but he remained hopeful.
He added Kuwait was in “constant contact” with its ally, the US.
On Saturday, OPEC giant Saudi Arabia called for urgent meetings of the GCC and the Arab League to discuss recent “aggressions and their consequences” in the region.
The two summits are scheduled to be held in Makkah on May 30.
Jarallah welcomed the kingdom’s invitation, saying Kuwait was keen to take part in discussions on issues “potentially dangerous” to the region.