Sellers reportedly received an email stating that “an internal testing phase” would begin with a small number of customers from 2pm on Thursday, 23 November 2017.
A screenshot of the email, which has been widely seen by Australian media outlets, suggests that sellers “should be prepared to receive orders from this point onwards”.
Amazon confirmed in early August that it planned to launch in Australia, and announced immediate plans to recruit “hundreds of new roles”.
Since then, however, it has remained tight-lipped on exactly when it would begin trading.
Despite widespread claims that Amazon is aiming to undercut local retailers on prices by as much as 30 per cent, some retail insiders have urged business operators not to believe the hype.
“I think that [Amazon] will have challenges as they move forward, and I don’t know whether the cost of business that they talk about – this 30 per cent – whether that is achievable,” Australian Retail Association chief Russell Zimmerman previously told My Business.
Even if Amazon did fail to materially disrupt the local market, the honeymoon period surrounding its launch may still have an adverse impact on Christmas trade for already weary businesses.
A recent My Business poll suggested two-thirds (65.6 per cent) of SMEs are expecting slower sales this Christmas compared with last year, and official data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics has shown retail growth rates stalling or even going backwards.