Amazon has officially launched its Prime Now service in Singapore today, potentially opening access to the American e-commerce giant for Southeast Asia and the 600 million people who live here.
For clarity, this is not the launch of a full-scale Amazon fulfilment centre or the flagship Amazon Prime service. Prime Now is a separate, more lean, version of Amazon.
Prime Now offers a curated (and limited) list of items but provides free two-hour shipping for orders over S$40 (US$30). It targets every day items like Milo, eggs, cold beer, and ice cream. But, customers will see more long-term items like strollers, toys, and consumer electronics.
For orders under S$40, the charge for delivery is S$5.99 (US$4.40) and if customers are really in a hurry, they can get one-hour delivery for S$9.99 (US$7.40)
Ivan Lim, the Leader of the Prime Now hub in Singapore, said he expects the fulfilment building to hold tens of thousands of items on a given day.
“We use advanced techniques and algorithms to fulfil orders as quickly and efficiently as possible with processes such as random stow, batching and machine learning,” he said.
For people who really want to get an item not listed on Prime Now, they will still need to ship these from the United States.
Typically, consumers would need to have a Prime membership to enjoy the Prime Now service, but for now, Singaporeans can simply hop-on and start ordering at their convenience.
“We know how busy Singaporeans are. There are times when you can’t make it to the store or simply don’t want to go,” said Aarif Nakhooda, Director of Prime Now Asia-Pacific at a press event.
“Now, customers can skip a trip and have they items they need conveniently delivered right to their door with free two-hour delivery so they can spend more time doing the things they love,” he said.
The entry into Singapore comes after about nine months of on-again off-again rumours as the question of ‘if’ Amazon would launch became an inevitable ‘yes’.
Industry watchers expect the Singapore launch to be the beginning of a far wider push across Southeast Asia. The region is attractive for Amazon because of its large population, growing middle-class, and the fact that e-commerce is the most mature tech industry in Southeast Asia.
As part of the launch, Amazon will be donating S$10,000 (US$7,400) worth of goods to Lions Befrienders, a volunteer organisation aimed at helping the elderly.
Prime Now was launched in 2014 in New York City and has since expanded to 50 cities in nine countries — these include Berlin, London, Madrid, and Tokyo.