Amazon To Open in Spain – Big Changes Ahead?

According to the press, Amazon is due to open in Spain on Sept. 15th. [Update: Amazon.es is now open.] This is hardly surprising – all over Madrid you see MRW vans delivering Amazon packages every day, and it isn’t just expats like me buying English books. Many Spanish people have been turning to Amazon for some time to ship better priced electronics to Spain with the minimum of fuss and good guarantees: cameras etc are generally cheaper on Amazon than from major retailers here. Apparently one million Spaniards already visit Amazon websites every month.

Importantly, Amazon opening in Spain could have huge implications for the Spanish on- and off-line market.

First of all e-commerce is way behind in Spain, and one of the reasons I’ve always posited for this is that Spain never had Amazon. I believe that Amazon.co.uk/.com/.fr/.de has had a huge role in fostering trust in ecommerce in those countries. Buying on-line in the US or the UK is largely considered normal, safe, and reliable thanks to Amazon, whereas here in Spain it is still not considered a normal way to shop amongst large sectors of the population.

Spain sits about 3 times behind the UK in terms of ecommerce. Online sales accounted for only 3% of all retail sales in Spain in 2010, whereas in the UK online sales accounted for 10% of all sales in the same year.

First quarter online retail sales in Spain were up 23.1% this year with respect to 2010 first quarter sales, but Spain still lags a long way behind. Amazon opening in Spain could change that in the same way it helped develop ecommerce in countries like the UK – by doing things well, efficiently, and offering generally great customer service.

The question is, if Amazon Spain brings these same important retail values to Spain (good customer service, efficient product delivery etc), could it have a knock on effect for off-line retailers as well, as Amazon sets new higher standards (e.g. in returns policies and customer service) not always seen here before?

Who knows, but one thing is for sure, I would be worried if I ran any kind of books/electronics/household goods ecommerce site in Spain right now – the bar is about to be lifted significantly, and Amazon is going to make other online operators who aren’t providing an immaculate service already, look pretty bad, very quickly.

Personally I think this is great news, I hope Amazon does in Spain everything it’s been able to do elsewhere – offering the same range of products, good customer service, and guarantees. We’ll find out what they have in store for us on September 15th.

Update: As mentioned above, Amazon.es in now open, and will thrive.

10 thoughts on “Amazon To Open in Spain – Big Changes Ahead?

  1. Christian

    Unfortunately ” Los precios, a diferencia de Estados Unidos o Reino Unido, no serán más bajos en la web que en la tienda física. La diferencia es que en esos países no hay precio fijo del libro, y aquí, sí. Y se mantendrá esa política.”

    It’s that time of year when I have to go shopping for school textbooks and I’d really welcome some price competition.

    1. Ben Curtis Post author

      True, books will still cost the same, but hopefully they’ll get to you with less fuss than the Casa del Libro has caused us in the past! And hopefully they will keep the same prices on cameras etc that they have in the UK.

  2. Veronica

    There’s a similar rule in France, so books are never discounted more than 5% on Amazon.fr. But they offer free delivery within France, so it’s not more expensive than buying offline. Looking forward to being able to easily buy Spanish-language books!

  3. Shiraz

    WOW! this could be great change for shopaholic people because now they purchase through amazon spain portal.

    Thanks for sharing!

  4. Stephen

    I just ordered a book from Amazon.esp . Then I cancelled when I saw I could get free delivery if I ordered from the UK! The postage from Spain would have been more than 6 euros through Amazon.esp . It will take 2 days longer than usual to arrive the UK site said, presumably because it’s still coming from Spain.

    It’s still useful to go on the Spanish site if you are from the UK as it’s all set up nicely for searching for Spanish books

    1. Ben Curtis Post author

      yes lots of things are cheaper on the Amazon uk and usa sites than on the Spain site, e.g. cameras, video games, dvds etc… but Amazon will still win here as the amazon.es site is in Spanish and will attract all those Spanish people that wouldn’t have dared gone through the purchase process in English on the foreign sites…

  5. Angela

    I was also sad to see that the prices wouldn’t be as deeply discounted… not just because I am a cheapskate (I am!) but because I think that it could have really accelerated the adoption of online shopping here in Spain. This might be a bit of a stereotype, but it seems like younger people will do things online just for the convenience, while a lot of people in my mother’s generation probably wouldn’t have tried sites like Amazon in the first place if the prices were not so low. A 30% discount certainly motivates people to get over any technophobia or hesitations about online shopping!

  6. Louisa

    This is fab news! I just placed an order for some books with Amazon.es I found one book considerably cheaper than on amazon.co.uk (the others were approximately the same). I also liked that there’s a 19 euro minimum charge to qualify for free delivery with Amazon.es, whereas for the UK site it’s 25 quid min. Yay! Oh and I totally agree with Stephen’s point. I have just shelled out 85 euros for my 4 year old son’s textbooks -non-reusable, claro. Grrrr…

  7. Jonathan Pincas

    I’ve been using Amazon UK to buy stuff in Spain ever since they expanded the free delivery to Spain a while back. I live up in the North where if you want anything, you either have to buy it from El Corte Ingles where you have the choice of 2 expensive ones, from Carrefour, where you have the choice of 2 crap ones, or from a small shop in town where you have the choice of 2 expensive and crap ones. Amazon saved my life. I was excited about the launch of Amazon ES, but the prices just don’t compare, so I’ve no reason to use it yet. On a different note, I agree that this is a massive step forward for Spanish commerce, Amazon is an ‘enabler’ in so many ways. Current online stores in Spain are generally terrible, with websites that don’t work and bad customer service. I’m really hoping Amazon will raise the bar and convince a new generation of buying public that ecommerce is the way to go. I still think Spain will take 10 years to catch up to where England is now.

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