Amazon Prime uncertainty in South Africa – MyBroadband

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The launch date for Amazon’s Prime membership, which will provide South African customers with free two-day deliveries, access to Prime Video, and other benefits, is still unknown.

MyBroadband has asked the company for an update on its plans for the subscription on several occasions, but it has declined to provide further details.

In other markets in which Amazon operates, the Prime subscription provides customers a range of shipping, streaming, shopping, and reading benefits.

Amazon.co.za officially went live on Tuesday, 7 May 2024, after officially announcing the marketplace’s impending launch in October 2023.

However, indications that the online retail giant planned to launch a South African marketplace first surfaced in January 2022, when MyBroadband reported that it was hunting for warehouse space in the country.

Several months later, Business Insider reported that leaked company documents confirmed Amazon’s plans to launch third-party marketplaces in South Africa and Nigeria.

The documents also reportedly indicated that Amazon would launch its Prime membership programme shortly after its marketplace launch.

Under the codename “Project Fela”, the plan was to launch a South African marketplace by February 2023 and another in Nigeria by April. However, the Nigerian launch was paused, and the South African marketplace was delayed.

In August 2022, MyBroadband spotted two management-level positions — a strategic accounts manager and a general manager — for a “ZA marketplace” advertised on Amazon’s job portal.

In October 2023, Amazon’s managing director for Sub-Saharan Africa, Robert Koen, revealed that the marketplace would launch in 2024 but didn’t provide a specific date.

“[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,” he said.

Amazon.co.za has a network of 3,000 pickup points across the country, in addition to offering to-door deliveries.

Robert Koen, general manager of the Sub-Saharan Africa region for Amazon.

It offers South African shoppers free delivery on their first orders, and subsequent orders over R500 also qualify for free delivery.

Amazon.co.za promises hassle-free returns within 30 days. Customers returning items can choose from several pickup options, including from their home or self-drop.

Following the launch, Koen provided further details about the platform and its priorities in the South African market in an interview with Business Day.

He said the key to Amazon’s success will be its focus on customers rather than the competition.

“We definitely don’t focus on what our competitors are doing. We’ve found that a successful formula is if we really obsess about our customers,” said Koen.

“That’s where our focus will be, on the customer, not on the competitor.”

He also revealed Amazon’s logistics partners in the country. Koen said the company had partnered with two third parties to cover last-mile logistics in the country.

“They’re two companies with a great reputation and really understand what it takes to be successful across South Africa,” he said. “DPD Laser and The Courier Guy are the two delivery partners we’re working with.”

Amazon Prime benefits

The table below shows the benefits Amazon Prime subscribers in the US receive. A full list is available here.

Amazon Prime US benefits
Shipping Streaming Shopping Reading
  • Free Two-Day Shipping on eligible items.
  • Free Same-Day Delivery in eligible zip codes.
  • Free Release-Date Delivery on eligible preorder items.
  • The ability to select a weekly delivery day for purchases.
  • Access to Prime Video.
  • Free access to Amazon Music.
  • Discounted Amazon Music Unlimited monthly plans.
  • Prime Gaming subscription includes free games, a free monthly Twitch channel subscription, and additional gaming benefits.
  • Whole Foods Market savings.
  • Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card to earn 5% back on Amazon purchases.
  • Amazon Fresh — one-hour and two-hour food deliveries in select regions.
  • Try before you buy.
  • Early access to Lightning Deals.
  • Free Prime Reading subscription.
  • Early access to one new book for free each month.

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