Amazon prepares to enter Southeast Asia via Singapore launch

Amazon is continuing its international expansion push with the launch of its services in Singapore coming imminently. The arrival could happen as soon as this week, according to a source with knowledge of the plans, and it will mark Amazon’s entry into Southeast Asia.

The launch will see Amazon Prime, Amazon Prime Now fast delivery and Amazon’s regular e-commerce services become available to Singapore’s population of over five million people, the source said. Pricing is unclear at this point.

Amazon had not replied to our request for comment at the time of writing.

TechCrunch first reported that Amazon was working on entering Southeast Asia last November, but the original window of Q1 2017 was pushed back following complications.

In a further hint, Amazon has already begun marketing its services through online influencers. A number of high-profile Instagram users in Singapore have posted sponsored teasers of Amazon’s Prime Now service in recent days. While not labeled Amazon, the distinctive tick on the packaging is a giveaway.

The e-commerce giant has spent 2017 pushing into new geographies and verticals. It expanded into the Middle East — via the acquisition of Souq.cominitiated a move into Australia, and it is in the process of buying Whole Foods in the U.S. for just shy of $14 billion. Now it is jumping into Southeast Asia, a region of 600 million consumers where rival Alibaba and fellow Chinese firm Tencent are already actively investing.

Alibaba entered the region last year when it bought a majority stake in Lazada, the e-commerce service originally founded by Rocket Internet. Alibaba has since increased its stake to 83 percent via another investment. Alibaba-Lazada preempted Amazon’s arrival with the acquisition of Singapore-based e-grocery company Redmart, and the introduction of a Prime-like membership service in partnership with Uber and Netflix. Amazon will also be keeping tabs on Indonesia’s Tokopedia, which a source told TechCrunch is in discussions with Tencent ally and Alibaba over an investment that could reach $500 million.

At stake is a market that, alongside India, is seen as fertile ground for internet companies seeking growth.

Online is estimated to account for less than five percent of all commerce today in Southeast Asia, but the region is tipped to grow significantly over the next decade, according to a report from Google and Singapore-based fund Temasek published last year. E-commerce in the region is tipped to grow from $5.5 billion in 2015 to $87.8 billion by 2025, according to the report. That’s fueled by an emerging middle class and increased internet access — currently 3.8 million new users are coming online per month.

Indonesia, Southeast Asia’s largest economy and the world’s fourth highest-populated country, is tipped to account for over 50 percent of that e-commerce spending by 2025. Amazon has picked Singapore for its initial entry point to Southeast Asia, primary because of Westernized consumer consumption and its position as a regional hub, but we understand that Indonesia is on its radar for the future.