When to buy from Amazon Australia (and when not to)
THE AUSTRALIAN BRANCH OF THE ONLINE MARKETPLACE IS UP AND RUNNING. LET’S TAKE A DIGITAL TOUR.
IN THE USA, Amazon is a force to be reckoned with, and is often the best place to find tech and other bargains. It’s even often worth getting gear shipped all the way to Australia, despite customs and the unfavourable exchange rate. But as of early December, Amazon(.com.au) has launched into Australia. It was a soft launch, and we could already buy eBooks and apps, but now it has a range of tech and other products. But how does it stack up and how do you ferret out the bargains? Keep in mind that the information and price comparisons provided are based on the time of writing, so may have been updated since.
USING AMAZON AUSTRALIA
The URL is www.amazon.com.au — no surprises there. You do need to create an account, but if you had an account before the AU version launched, it will still work. If you’ve signed up to both using different emails, there’s no way to merge or link them together, unfortunately. For those who want to try selling through Amazon, point your browser to
AMAZON AUSTRALIA PRODUCTS AND PRICES
At the time of writing, the Amazon lineup is a bit hit and miss. The retailer is just getting started, though, so we can expect it to become a lot more competitive over time. It’s super important to compare prices before buying anything from Amazon AU, and don’t forget to factor in shipping. In many ways, Amazon is both better and worse than its rivals. Take the Sonos PLAYBAR — a higher-end soundbar for your TV. Amazon had it for $899.42 (at the time of writing) including free delivery. That’s almost $100 cheaper than Harvey Norman, who charges another $20 for delivery. Shopping around, it’s possible to buy the Playbar from $864 at other stores, which is still cheaper after shipping. A selection of computer monitors we compared ranged from being slightly cheaper, to being over a third ($100) more expensive. Even Amazon’s own product, the Kindle Voyage, is $5 more expensive than competitors such as Officeworks — and both offer free shipping. Keep in mind as well that many of the items are sold by third parties, not Amazon themselves. Other items can be a little bit cheaper on Amazon, and there are some absolute gems if you’re willing to track them down. Other tech items, such as the new Fire TV Stick, and other brands we don’t tend to see in Australia, are only available via Amazon.
It’s super important to compare prices — our go-to for tech is and
COMPARE PRICES BEFORE BUYING ANYTHING FROM AMAZON AU, AND DON’T FORGET TO FACTOR IN SHIPPING.
At the time of writing, Amazon was offering free shipping on orders over $49 on “eligible items”. This includes orders with multiple items, but only if they are coming from Amazon, rather than direct from a seller using the Amazon marketplace. Some special and bulky items are also excluded. If comparing prices on and off Amazon, don’t forget to factor in shipping costs, or the convenience of not having to go and collect an item. For now, Australia doesn’t get Amazon Prime priority shipping — it’s listed as coming in the future, with no date. We do get access to Prime video, though, and it costs US$6 (AU$8) a month. The Amazon Fire Stick TV is also available for $69, for an easy way to access the service, since it’s not possible to stream with options such as the Chromecast.
Shopping directly from the United States is still an option — just point your browser to
amazon.com and it won’t redirect to the .au site. Many items are a whole lot cheaper, but shipping can really cut into the savings — if they’re available to Australia at all. The bigger benefit for most people is the ability to buy items not available Down Under. As always with buying tech overseas, you need to be careful to check what voltages devices run on, region locked tech (such as DVD players) and, for phones, which frequencies are supported. More expensive items, such as laptops, are usually covered by an international warranty, but if in doubt, check first. Smaller tech items often have no warranty at all, or will need to be shipped back to Amazon USA if there is a problem.
Some of the best savings are on items that don’t ship by default to Australia. The solution is to use a shipping forwarder, which accepts your shipment, then sends it on to Australia for a fee. They can often combine a bunch of orders into a single international shipment (including from retailers other than Amazon), saving considerable money. Shipping forwarders can have a lot of different options, but we recommend shipito.com and stackry.com as a good place to start.
Buying items from Amazon USA means you don’t have to pay the local sales tax, which can be a decent savings. The AU Government still wants its share of taxes, though, so you currently need to pay GST on any single shipment of goods over $1,000, not including shipping. If the value of the goods is over the threshold, you then have to pay 10% of the value of the goods and international (but not domestic) shipping cost, based on the exchange rate at the day or purchase. From July 1st, 2018, the government will require international businesses selling to Australia to collect GST if they have a turnover of $75,000 or more per year. How exactly this will be enforced, or how it will affect shipping forwarding companies remains to be seen. Find out more info at:
THE EBAY ALTERNATIVE
Amazon coming to Australia is fantastic, since we don’t have an equivalent online retailer and marketplace. About the closest is eBay.com.au, which is moving away from auctions and is mostly dominated by shops selling goods. It’s especially good for buying internationally — just head into the Advanced Search options, and select items available to Australia from worldwide.