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Amazon to launch in Singapore this week

After months of speculation and rumours, Amazon will be launching in Southeast Asia this week via Singapore

Late last year, the ground began to rumble that Amazon was planning to enterSoutheast Asia, via Singapore, in 2017. After some fits and starts, the e-commerce giant seems set to launch, according to a report from TechCrunch.

e27 reached out to Amazon for confirmation, who said they would not comment on the speculations.

According to the report, Singapore will soon be getting the launch of Amazon Prime and Amazon Prime Now.

Amazon Prime is the company’s US$99 subscription service that offers free two-day shipping, access to its Netflix-style media programming and the ability to borrow books via the Kindle lending library. There was not indication of the price-point in Singapore.

Amazon Prime Now is the company’s ultra-fast two-hour delivery service. The system works because Prime Now is a separate ‘entity’ that Amazon. Basically, the Prime Now service curates a list of items — so customers sacrifice on choice but get ridiculously fast delivery speeds.

The Singapore launch is widely expected to be the beginning of a regional expansion as the city-state has far too small of a population to make any impact on Amazon’s overall revenue numbers.

Southeast Asia has around 600 million people and a growing regional middle-class and millions of people coming online for the first time.

Ripple effects

The official launch should have ripple effects regional players are forced to adapt how the Southeast Asian consumer base embraces, and uses, Amazon.

According to e27 data, e-commerce is far and away the most developed sector in the startup economy — leading the way in both the number of startups and investor interest in Southeast Asia. While other sectors, like fintech or artificial intelligence get hype, e-commerce is still king in the region.

How early-stage and growth-stage companies react to Amazon will be fascinating to watch over the coming months.

One immediate consequence of the launch is Amazon has (as widely expected, but officially now) thrown itself in the middle of a proxy war between the Chinese internet giants Alibaba and Tencent.

Alibaba was the first to enter the Southeast Asian market when it purchased Lazada in April, 2016. Lazada has a service similar to Prime called LiveUp, but instead of being an in-house offering, it involves a partnership with Netflix, Uber and RedMart.

Today, it was reported that Tencent is trying to invest US$500 million in Indonesia’s Tokopedia. The Indonesian company helps SMEs get online and run their own e-commerce stores.

For years, Amazon has made India its focus outside of the US (pumping in billions of dollars to win market share in the world’s second most populous country). While it is still second-fiddle to its local competitor Flipkart, in recent months momentum has begun to swing in Bezos’ direction.

As of publishing, the news does not appear to have impacted Amazon’s stock price (which has dropped about 2 per cent in opening hours).

Source: www.e27.co