Amazon announces South African launch

Amazon has announced that it will launch in 2024, allowing South African-based sellers to reach customers nationwide.

In a statement issued on Tuesday, Amazon said over 60% of sales in its store are from independent sellers.

“Most of [these] are small and medium-sized businesses – providing a vast selection of products, competitive prices, and great convenience for consumers,” Amazon stated.

“Starting today, independent sellers in South Africa can register their businesses on the [Amazon seller portal].”

Amazon Sub-Saharan Africa region general manager Robert Koen said they look forward to launching in South Africa.

“[We look forward to] providing local sellers, brand owners, and entrepreneurs – small and large – the opportunity to grow their business with Amazon, and delivering great value and a convenient shopping experience for customers across South Africa,” said Koen.

Koen is a South African-born executive who has been with Amazon for nearly nine years.

His last job in South Africa was as a distribution manager for IBM in 1998. He relocated to London, UK in 1999 where he served as an IBM client executive for over four years.

From there, he joined Genesys, where he worked as EMEA client director for two years. He relocated to the San Francisco Bay Area and worked at Genesys for another six years and nine months.

Koen joined Amazon in January 2015 in its Seller Services Marketplace division.

He served as head of the US partner network for over five years, was promoted to director of “Buy with Prime”, and most recently became managing director for Amazon’s International Consumer division.

In addition to announcing its imminent South African launch, Amazon promoted two sellers who will be on its platform at launch: African Mamas Craft and Reader’s Warehouse.

Johannesburg-based African Mamas Crafts employs home-based crafters in rural areas.

“African Mamas is very excited at the prospect of working with Amazon locally to leverage their tools and expertise to grow our e-commerce business. We cannot wait to embark on this journey of growth,” said founder and director Nomaswazi Tinus.

Reader’s Warehouse was created by two brothers who grew up with a passion for books and reading.

“I am absolutely thrilled about the opportunity to partner with Amazon and sell in their store,” said Reader’s Warehouse director Sean Bulpin.

“This presents an incredible chance to expand our ecommerce business and tap into a broader customer base in South Africa.”

Regarding Amazon’s logistics options in South Africa, it will offer Fulfilment by Amazon (FBA), Amazon Easy Ship (ES), and Self Ship.

Similar to Takealot, with FBA, Amazon will store, pack, and deliver sellers’ products on their behalf.

Amazon Easy Ship lets sellers store and pack their products, with Amazon handling delivery.

With Self Ship, sellers can handle their own warehousing, packing, and delivery, if they prefer.

Sellers may choose any combination of the above delivery options for their various products.

“Most Selling Partners use a mix of multiple fulfilment options, depending on their product range and category,” Amazon says on its seller portal.

MyBroadband first reported that Amazon was shopping for warehouse space in South Africa in January 2022.

Confirmation of the online retail giant’s intention to launch in South Africa surfaced in June 2022, when leaked documents revealed plans to expand to five new countries in Africa, South America, and Europe.

The African plan — codenamed “Project Fela” — included an anticipated February 2023 launch date for a South African marketplace. Amazon’s plans included offering its Prime membership programme in the country.

However, Amazon delayed the launch due to the tech industry slump.

The company first started advertising marketplace-related positions in South Africa in August 2022. These included two managerial roles for the “ZA marketplace”.

In late May 2023, a document on Amazon’s Carrier Central webpage for South Africa revealed that it plans on having at least one fulfilment centre in Johannesburg and another in Cape Town.

By July, Amazon had increased its hiring efforts for marketplace-related roles, including over 30 full-time positions in South Africa.

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Amazon announces South African launch