Amazon's Prime Now Launch in Singapore Faces Headwinds

E-commerce giant Amazon has encountered serious delivery problems, hours after it launched its express, same-day delivery service, Prime Now, in Singapore last week, media reports said.
The reports said many users in Singapore were unable to select a delivery window for their purchases to be delivered at the checkout screen and a message stated that all remaining delivery windows "for today and tomorrow are currently unavailable," and that users should check in later for updates.

Delays for Amazon Prime in Singapore
Delays for Amazon Prime in Singapore

What went wrong in the preparation phase?
Amazon Prime is a service available to Amazon customers who pay an annual membership fee. But, after years of preparation, 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, a report in Today noted.
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 also offers “local favourites”, including homegrown and regional brands.
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, which also stated that deliveries are available from “10am to 10pm, seven days a week”.

New warehouse and distribution facing hiccups
To achieve the stated delivery times, Amazon's opened its largest Prime Now warehouse to date, a 100,000 square feet building near the Jurong district, while it contracted with local third party logistics provider Ninja Van for a fleet of cars and vans for the last mile delivery of the ordered goods.
Amazon's ultimate move into Southeast Asia has faced several delays in recent years, allowing competitors such as China's Alibaba to establish a firm base in the country before Amazon's entry.
Alibaba earlier this month (July) announced it would invest US$1 billion in Singapore-based regional e-tailer Lazada, raising its stake from 51% to around 83% and bringing its total investment in Lazada to over US$2bn.
Amazon so far has largely ignored China and focused on India, where it is the number-two player behind local rival Flipkart. But its arrival in Singapore, with a population of just over 5 million people, is regarded as a gateway to the Southeast Asian region with more than 600 million potential customers, where currently only a fraction of sales are conducted online.

Nol van Fenema

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