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Demand overwhelms Amazon Prime Now delivery in Singapore

SINGAPORE — Consumers in Singapore looking forward to “ultra-fast” service from Amazon Prime Now, which promises delivery of orders within hours, were disappointed to be notified that “delivery is unavailable” hours after the official launch of the shopping app on Thursday (July 27).

Demand overwhelms Amazon Prime Now delivery in Singapore

Staff seen at Amazon's Prime Now fulfillment centre on 27 July 2017, taken during the Launch of Amazon Prime Now, its speedy two-hour delivery service in Singapore. Photo: Koh Mui Fong/TODAY

SINGAPORE — Consumers in Singapore looking forward to “ultra-fast” service from Amazon Prime Now, which promises delivery of orders within hours, were disappointed to be notified that “delivery is unavailable” hours after the official launch of the shopping app on Thursday (July 27).

Customers also experienced delays in downloading the app, in some cases.

The Amazon Prime Now app was released on the Singapore iTunes and Google Play stores the day before, but only open for orders at 8.00am the following day.

When TODAY tested the app on Thursday, the shopping experience fell well short of expectations. The postal code entered for a home in Kembangan was not covered by the one-hour delivery and orders will only be delivered after 24 hours. The same shortcoming was reflected even when the delivery address was changed to a location in one north, which is much closer to Amazon’s warehouse at Toh Guan Road than Kembangan.

Other Amazon Prime services including video streaming and ordering through hands-free speaker Amazon Echo are not yet included here. Books, as well as the Kindle e-reader, were unavailable for order via the app.

After months of speculations, Amazon finally landed in Singapore to overwhelming demand.

National University of Singapore Business School Associate Professor Thompson Teo noted that Amazon has been planning entry into South-east Asia for “some time”, so issues such as payment systems and supplier partnerships would have been “mostly resolved”.

Amazon Prime is a service available to Amazon customers who pay an annual membership fee. But the e-commerce giant is making the Prime Now service available to Amazon users in Singapore for a limited period of time while working to launch the membership service here soon. 

The Prime Now mobile app showcases an extensive array of items across 36 categories, from groceries, alcohol, to household essentials and electronic devices. To cater to the Singaporean audience, it has also curated “local favourites”, which includes homegrown and regional brands such as Ayam Brand, Prima Taste and Tiger.

The Seattle-based e-commerce giant had promised to offer consumers in Singapore free two-hour delivery of products from eggs to toys, for orders over S$40 placed over the phone and through the app. For orders under S$40, two-hour delivery will cost S$5.99. 

One-hour delivery is also available “in most postal codes serviced by Amazon Prime Now” with an additional fee of S$9.99, said Amazon’s Singapore website. It also states that deliveries are available from “10am to 10pm, seven days a week”.

In response to queries on how Amazon is dealing with disappointed consumers who are aren’t able to place their orders, a company spokesperson said: “We are thrilled customers in Singapore love ultra-fast delivery as much as we do. We encourage customers to check back on the Prime Now app soon.”

According to Mr HyunWook Cho, Qoo10’s Singapore country manager, Amazon’s entry to Singapore will disrupt the e-commerce market. “But it might take them a while to adapt to the local landscape. With all the available e-commerce options, Singaporean shoppers are becoming very demanding—aside from speed of goods being delivered to their doorstep, they still view product diversification and price, among others, as major factors in their purchasing decision.” 

Mothercare’s managing director Pang Fu Wei said: “The biggest impact of Amazon will be the disruption of domestic pricing. Categories with excess profits will be reduced and all retailers will have to get used to thinner bottom lines.”

Assoc Prof Teo however noted that “Competition is not only about pricing. Goods must be easy to find online and the website and customer support has to be good. Amazon has a good reputation in these areas. Customer experience as well as range of merchandise is important so that they will continue to buy.”

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