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Amazon pricing headache-provoking

At debut, Amazon Australia‘s prices for camera gear – that is, products direct from AmazonAU – have not significantly undercut local photo retailers, and in many instances are more expensive.

However,  as we discovered monitoring the website over its first 48 hours, Amazon Australia’s prices are constantly fluctuating.

AmazonAU stocks gear from Nikon, Canon, Fujifilm, GoPro, NetGear, Sandisk, Belkin, LASER, Otterbox, and Seyvlor. Currently there are major gaps in the AmazonAU brand portfolio, namely Panasonic, Olympus, and Sony. However these are offered by Amazon Marketplace retailers.

We asked Panasonic whether it would be a supplier to Amazon Australia the company responded: ‘Panasonic Australia doesn’t have any announcements to make around the launch of Amazon in Australia at this stage. We will keep you updated should we have any news.’

Some pundits have predicted that price competition from local retailers operating in the Amazon Marketplace will sharpen as more retailers join and are able to get an idea of competitor’s prices.

Michaels CVD, Kayell and Camera Electronic are among the established retailers already operating in the Amazon Marketplace so far, with Michaels one of the largest to date in terms of product range. DCxpert, the online retail site owned by CR Kennedy, appeared on the Amazon site today. (There’s a disconcerting tendency for retailers to show up, then disappear, then show up again.)

‘We’ve already had some orders through Amazon,’ Michaels managing director Peter Michael told PhotoCounter on the day after the launch. ‘I suspect they are orders we wouldn’t have received otherwise.’

He said with Amazon clearly determined to have a greater presence in Australia, Michaels decided to ‘get in nice and early,’ and was developing a good business relationship with the online behemoth.

Camera House didn’t dive into the deep end of the Amazon pool, but general manager Charles Davey had a long hard look at the new channel: ‘I thought their pricing was reflective of the market. Shipping times were realistic – I think the press hype had given expectations on shipping and delivery within hours, but the actual proposition reflects the size of the country and its logistical network,’ he told PhotoCounter.

‘I had thought there would be a wider offering of products supplied from Amazon Australia, which are associated to the Amazon Shipping Rates. If I am drilling down right – Amazon has 450 items listed.

‘I found the initial Category Navigation good, but then found it hard when I drilled further down. I liked the options bar on the right for breaking down requirements.

‘I found the search engine use ended in some interesting alternative results – again making it difficult to located certain items.

‘To me it seems like early days. With reference to Amazon Marketplace, we will keep our options open in looking at this opportunity in retail.

‘The Marketplace had many sellers, and many new names listed for this Industry.’ – Some of those new names are grey market retailers, such as BuyMobile Australia, selling products through Amazon which don’t seem to have a GST component added, whether they are under or over the $1000 low value threshold.

This is where local retailers are more likely to get smashed by the arrival of Amazon.

Herding cats
As we have explained, PhotoCounter originally intended to compare AmazonAU’s product pricing with local photo retailers and grey marketers. But it appears that’s an almost impossible task to get totally right, as prices on the Amazon site are, we learned, a constantly moving target.

Less than 24 hours after we compiled the information and formatted our story, we discovered the price for almost every product had changed!

While scrambling around Amazon’s rather clunky website, a five minute fact-checking job slipped into a confusing, headachy hour, and this writer thought he may have lost the plot: One product we were looking at, the Nikon D7500, had vanished entirely from the AmazonAU catalogue. Some products had gone up in price, more had gone down. The Canon Powershot G7X Mk II, for instance dropped almost $100 at AmazonAU.

Given Amazon Australia is still at early launch stage, its pricing system may still be bedding down. Some hardworking algorithm is probably beavering away as we speak. Or something like that. Let’s hope so, otherwise nailing prices on Amazon will be like nailing jelly to a wall.

Regardless, checking back today, the findings remain fundamentally the same even though the specific prices have shifted. From a pricing point of view, photo retailers will not need to worry about AmazonAU. Well, at least not for the next 24 hours!

It’s the grey market retailers that are a bigger cause for concern, at least until July 1 next year. The Amazon Marketplace offers them another foot in the door to reach Australian consumers with GST-free sales.

Here’s how it looks:

Nikon D610 body only
Amazon: $1897
Camera Electronic: $1777
Camera Pro: $1699
JB Hi-Fi: $1999
Grey market retailer outside Amazon Marketplace: $1319

Nikon Nikkor 8-15mm f3.5-4.5E ED fish eye lens
Amazon: $1973
Ted’s Cameras: 1999.95
Michaels: $1959
Grey market outside Amazon Marketplace: $1399

Canon EOS M5 with EF-M 15-45mm kit lens
Amazon: $1024 (after $250 cash back offer)
DigiDirect: $1078 (after $250 cash back offer)
JB Hi-Fi: $1024 (after $250 cash back offer)
Amazon Grey market retailer: $1109

Canon Powershot G7X Mk II
Amazon: $628 (after $50 cash back offer)
Digital Camera Warehouse: $689 (after $50 cash back offer)
Camera House: $749 (after $50 cash back offer)

Canon 5D Mk IV body only
Amazon: $4855
Digital Camera Warehouse: $4490 (after $250 cash back offer)
Michaels: $4499 (after $250 cash back offer)
Amazon Grey market retailer: $4179.99

Fujifilm Instax Film 20 Pk
Amazon: $29
Teds: $29.95
Kmart: $27

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