Online retail giant Amazon's entry into Israel is in the home stretch, and the company is considering the final date for launching operations. The main question that remains to be decided is whether the company's project managers in Israel can fulfill the demands set by the company's headquarters in Seattle in time for an official launch next month.
As of now, Amazon US's representatives supervising the establishment of Amazon Europe's activities in Israel have yet to ratify Amazon's readiness for the launch. As far as is known, the representatives responsible for local activity, which is being managed by Amazon's headquarters in Berlin, are making strenuous efforts to complete this process and make the launch before the Knesset election and the holidays in Israel.
Amazon has been working on the official launch of its local retail operations for months. The question of readiness is critical for the company to be able to take advantage of the upcoming Jewish holidays at the end of September and even the day of the Knesset elections on September 17, which is a national holiday. If the company is not ready by those dates, it will probably delay its official launch until November, in which international shopping holidays Black Friday and Cyber Monday. One thing is clear to everyone: Amazon wants its launch to take place at a time when Israeli consumers are gung ho for shopping and ready to whip out their credit cards at a moment's notice
The criteria imposed by Amazon US include both the number of suppliers interested in operating on Amazon and their level of readiness according to criteria such as mapping the catalogue and diversity, pricing, uniform images that conform with Amazon's rigorous requirements, and writing content. Another factor is the ability to put a website on the air on the launch date that provides a first-rate user experience in Hebrew, or else to launch a website in English, which will be less effective.
Suppliers we spoke with who are preparing for the launch and the establishment of an online store on Amazon's dominant platform describe heavy pressure from Amazon to meet the targets and demonstrate readiness on the one hand and a lack of clarity about the launch date on the other. Amazon Global Selling manager Rolf Kimmeyer and a team of at least two Israeli representatives are working in the company headquarters in Berlin, but visit Israel frequently. Lior Kivich and Anat Paiss are accompanying Kimmeyer.
Preparations for the launch are going into high gear
Amazon has been enhancing its presence in Israel in recent weeks, with local cooperate ventures and conferences designed to recruit local sellers. One of the most prominent of these conferences took place at Bank Hapoalim, where Kimmeyer met with executives of the bank and business owners interested in beginning online sales. He made a presentation to them about the possibilities in working through Amazon.
Additional preparation recently completed by Amazon consists of special campaign photographs with the McCann advertising agency. Some of the suppliers who will begin selling on Amazon Israel are taking part in the campaign, among them Dead Sea cosmetic products company Minus 417, owned by Moty Fridman.
Simultaneously with these preparations, sources inform "Globes" that a second Israeli company, iCommerce, has been officially recognized by Amazon as an authorized supplier through Amazon's supplier provider network (SPN). This is certification given to service providers operating stores on Amazon, through which the company certifies local service providers that it has carefully examined, and in which it has confidence. Amazon cooperates regularly with these service providers. On its website, Amazon states that this cooperation also facilitates price discounts. iCommerce is joining the pioneer in this sphere in Israel - e-Community, founded by Nir Zigdon and Odelia Orbach.
iCommerce, founded in 2012 and acquired by Shachar Blum and Apan (Amos) Dimri three years later, has 12 employees. Since the acquisition, iCommerce has focused exclusively on providing close accompaniment and consultation services for companies on Amazon. The company has technologies for upgrading research capabilities, regular analysis, and managing advertising on Amazon. It works with a number of large customers, and its Amazon marketing expert is Vadim Kolek.
Retail chains going into combat mode
While Amazon and its suppliers are busy with their preparations, retain chains are anxious about losing sales as a result of Amazon's activity. The chains are in contact with suppliers in order to find out which of them are planning to sell through Amazon.
At the same time, with all of the difficulties ahead, it appears that Amazon has made huge and rapid progress in the past 18 months on local online activity. Only three months have passed since it notified suppliers that it was inviting them to take part in its local sales program.
A year ago, in May 2018, Amazon began hiring translators into Hebrew for jobs in its headquarters in Luxembourg, from where it manages its main activity in Europe. In July 2018, only two months later, Amazon began a campaign of free deliveries for orders of over $80 in order to test the response of Israelis to purchases that included VAT. The campaign was a huge success. A month after that, Amazon published a survey in Hebrew aimed at Israeli sellers about pricing methods and sales channels, and two months later, Amazon executives visited Israel for a series of meetings with local delivery companies.
Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on August 5, 2019
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