Some unable to place orders

An Amazon employee packing orders. Some consumers could not place orders yesterday due to overwhelming demand.
An Amazon employee packing orders. Some consumers could not place orders yesterday due to overwhelming demand.

While industry observers hailed Amazon's launch of its fast delivery service as its foot in the door to Singapore and the region, shoppers had mixed reactions to Prime Now.

Just hours after the American e-commerce company launched its two-hour delivery service at 10am yesterday, some consumers were unable to place orders due to overwhelming demand.

By mid-afternoon, customers were met with the message that all delivery windows for yesterday and today were unavailable.

Administrator Kenneth Cheong, 41, said he was "unimpressed" with the delays after spending two hours trying to complete his purchase of an electric shaver and toiletries.

Ms Esther Ho, deputy director at Nanyang Polytechnic's School of Business Management, said that building a strong logistics network here is critical for Amazon to fulfil its promise of delivery within two hours.

Rolling out a service that offers speed and convenience is a "good hook" for Amazon to build its customer base here before the eventual launch of its paid membership programme Amazon Prime, she said.

Amazon's entry into the region sets the stage for a clash with Chinese tech giant Alibaba, which controls Lazada, South-east Asia's largest e-commerce site.

As rumours swirled about Amazon's impending launch in Singapore over the past several months, Lazada Singapore made several moves to strengthen its foothold.

Its warehouse operations were moved to the SingPost Regional eCommerce Logistics Hub in Tampines in May in a bid to streamline its e-commerce and logistics efforts and hasten turnaround times.

Singapore Polytechnic senior lecturer in marketing and retail Amos Tan said that competition between Amazon and Lazada, which also owns online grocer RedMart, will be fierce.

Managing partner at pricing consultancy Simon-Kucher & Partners Jochen Krauss said that prices for food items and consumer electronics on Prime Now appear similar to that of other retailers. "I think it is a smart move for them to go for quality instead of being a low-cost price player to differentiate themselves," he said.

Some who browsed the catalogue yesterday said that it was "limited" compared with Amazon's United States shopping site.

But marketing manager Jack Tang, 33, said he enjoyed using the service, which delivered his order of snacks, beverages and canned food within the first 20 minutes of his scheduled two-hour window.

"The user experience was straightforward and simple," he said, while the chilled beverage he ordered was kept cold with ice packs. "Not everything is cheap, but you pay for the convenience too," he said.

Tiffany Fumiko Tay

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 28, 2017, with the headline 'Some unable to place orders'. Print Edition | Subscribe