Amazon launch in South Africa on 7 May, the necessary war for efficiency

amazon headquarters south africa

The e-commerce giant Amazon is finally in the country after months of testing. As of May 7, has been launched in South Africa and this is what it means for the South African market and consumer.

Well aside from waiting periods, shipping, and import tax fees, the news of Amazon’s entry and launch means a few interesting things for the South African consumer.

The delivery will definitely be faster as Amazon promises 24-hour delivery alongside 3 000 pick-up points around the country.

It’s the overall impact of Amazon on the South African landscape that has us curious about the ripple impact of the e-commerce giant.

According to customer experience specialist and CEO of nlightencx, Nathalie Schooling, the introduction of this competition into the local e-commerce market is exactly the CX shake-up the sector has been needing.

“At the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, our local e-tailers were having their moment. All of a sudden, there was this re-energized focus on convenience, customer experience, and innovation. And things were working, for a while. But ask any South African if they are consistently happy with the service that they get these days from our local e-commerce players, and you’re likely to get mixed reviews.

“You just need to pay a visit to their social media pages to see the streams of customer complaints. Unfortunately, complacency tends to creep in when things are good, and companies lose sight of the customer. The arrival of Amazon is going to drive local players to step up their CX game so that they can retain the loyalty of consumers and reinforce their position in the market. And if you ask me, it’s about time.”

What do Amazon, Temu, and Shein have in common? Big budgets and an aim to gain a foothold in South Africa and Africa at large. But what’s been interesting to watch is how these big e-tailers approach the race to win the local market share.

X user @Rhuly21 tweeted “Temu is like that genie that gives you exactly what you asked for but has somehow ruined it for you.”

There’s a necessary war on the cards for inspired efficiency according to Marketing Specialist, Mathabo Sekhonyana who adds that a quick exercise in social media listening and keyword tracking reveals that this accurately summarises the South African sentiment around Temu’s marketing practices with the keyword used most about the brand being “annoying”.

There is something to be said about over-marketing in an already saturated environment, particularly when other players are vying for the same market share.

What Shein and Temu do right is fast fashion at reasonable prices however, consumers are worried about whether they will receive their orders, how long they will take, hidden costs, exorbitant shipping fees, and return policies.

This is essentially a trust issue and speaks to a lack of established brand credibility. And their frequent “scammy” and “spammy” marketing approach only further makes people wonder if these are reputable brands.

Amazon’s welcome

Consumers seem to have different feelings when it comes to Amazon, however, largely because of the way they are viewed across the globe with strong brand credibility and a reputation for delivering on their promise.

South Africans do expect the US giant’s online offering to come at a slight premium but have the peace of mind of knowing their goods will arrive as advertised and on time. Or at least that’s the hope.

In the end what drives South African purchasing decisions? Price? Brand? Credibility? Content?

“It’s the perfect blend of all these elements. The question now is how our familiar favorites like Takealot and Superbalist will survive the influx of competition. And which of the shiny new outsiders are going to cut through and win our hearts and wallets? Time will tell,” says Sekhonyana

Also read: Huawei, Apple both launch on May 7, who’s better equipped?



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