SINGAPORE: Amazon launched its Prime Now service in Singapore on Wednesday night (Jul 26), making its app available via the country's iTunes and Google Play stores.
The e-commerce giant had been widely rumoured to launch in Singapore after a series of high-profile Instagram users made sponsored posts alluding to the service.
It is Amazon's first foray into Southeast Asia, and takes on local delivery services by the likes of FairPrice Online and RedMart.
Customers in Singapore are given two delivery options, according to the Prime Now app. The two-hour delivery service will be free for customers who place orders above S$40. If customers do not meet the minimum order, they can pay S$5.99 for the two-hour delivery option, or S$9.99 for the speedier one-hour delivery option.
Deliveries are made from 10am to 10pm seven days a week, available across Singapore and Sentosa. Amazon does not currently deliver to the outlying islands.
Should the delivery arrive later than stated, customers can reject the order. If there are missing products in the delivery, Amazon will refund the customers for the missing items, said Mr Henry Low, director of Prime Now Asia Pacific.
"The most important thing is for customers to trust us," he told Channel NewsAsia.
For a limited time, customers in Singapore will not need an Amazon Prime membership to try its Prime Now service. No details were given as to when the limited-time access would end.
Products available on Prime Now include grocery items, electronics, toys and games, stationery and beauty products.
However, a quick check showed that the range of Amazon products was limited compared to what was available in its other markets, such as the United States and Japan.
LARGEST URBAN FULFILMENT CENTRE
Indeed, Mr Low said this was the first time Amazon Prime Now was launched without its full array of products like in other markets. Community relations manager Amanda Ip said those offered in Singapore were “specially curated”, aided by data collated from past purchases made by consumers here.
Also a first is that it was launched fully in a country and not in a gradual roll-out, said Mr Low.
With the Singapore launch, Amazon now offers the Prime Now service in 50 cities and nine countries, including India.
Singapore is also home to Amazon Prime Now’s largest urban fulfilment centre. The 100,000-sq-ft facility at Mapletree Logistics Hub in Toh Guan is several times the size of the average US urban fulfilment centre, which Ms Ip said is about 30,000 sq ft.
Asked if Singapore is the starting point for the launch of the delivery service to other markets in Southeast Asia, Mr Low said he was “excited about the region” but demurred on shedding more light on expansion plans.
Commenting on the launch, Associate Professor Thompson Teo from National University of Singapore's Business School said Amazon's entry is "obviously good for consumers" but less so for retailers given the greater competition.
"Retailers will need to find a better way to differentiate themselves," he said. "Some retailers or distributors may have exclusive rights for certain products in Singapore so they may less affected compared to those that sell commodity-like products."
Assoc Prof Teo added that it is not just about price though. "Customer experience as well as range of merchandise is important so that (customers) will continue to buy," he said.