After months of rumours, Amazon has finally launched its Prime Now service in Singapore, marking its first venture into the South-East Asian market. The mobile app will allow Singaporeans to shop for thousands of items, ranging from fresh produce to electronic goods, and will provide serious competition to Chinese rival Alibaba.
The service, which offers an extraordinary delivery time of just two hours, will give customers access to more than 1,100 products from the company’s own brand, AmazonBasics, as well as a selected range of items from other listed suppliers. The new service will not require customers to pay an additional membership fee for now; instead, the only stipulation is that orders exceed SGD 40 ($29).
According to Tech in Asia, Singaporean business models put a far greater emphasis on machine learning and AI than companies in, say, Europe – a necessity given the incredibly short time frame in which Amazon has to make deliveries. For example, the location of stock will be based upon the frequency an item is ordered, bolstering efficiency within Amazon’s new 100,000sq ft fulfilment centre in the city-state’s Jurong East area.
“Amazon Prime Now will not require customers to pay an additional membership fee for now; instead, the only stipulation is that orders exceed SGD 40 ($29)”
Given the company’s previous lack of operational presence in the region, Amazon has worked closely with local authorities to make Prime Now’s logistical feat a reality. At present, Amazon will use third-party delivery services to meet demand. However, should the service prove to be popular, Amazon could well adopt a similar approach to the one currently deployed in its US service.
Amazon’s foray into the South-East Asian market has been long anticipated, with fellow e-commerce giant Alibaba dominating the market. The move follows Alibaba’s acquisition of the majority share in Lazada in June, which helped the company secure a strategic foothold in Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam and Singapore.
With Amazon’s own aggressive expansion strategy now in play, the battle of the e-commerce giants in Asia is in full swing. Whether Amazon’s Singaporean venture is enough to face off Alibaba’s already looming presence in the region, however, would seem – at present, at least – quite unlikely.