By Byron Kaye
SYDNEY (Reuters) - Amazon.com Inc has told its Australian sellers to be ready to take orders on Nov. 23, according to a retailer, the first time the global retail juggernaut has given a start date for doing business in the world No. 12 economy.
Australia has long been home to Amazon-registered sellers, but until now they had been limited to sending goods offshore since the $550-billion company did not have any warehouse in the country of 24 million people. This also meant Australians had to wait long and pay sizable shipping costs for deliveries.
Amazon has, however, set up a distribution warehouse in Melbourne city, on the country's east coast where four-fifths of the population live, and logistics analysts say this will help cut sometimes open-ended delivery times to one or two days.
"There's a trial starting tomorrow at 2:00 p.m., and (Amazon) is saying that you need to be prepared to receive orders from that point on," Adam Mills, founder of child internet monitor provider KoalaSafe Inc - an Amazon-registered seller, told Reuters by telephone on Wednesday.
An Amazon representative in Australia declined to comment.
Since Amazon confirmed plans to open in Australia in April, the U.S. company has declined to say when it would begin taking orders. The company said on Nov. 13 it was close to opening for business, without giving a date.
On Wednesday, technology website Lifehacker Australia published what it said was a screenshot of an email from Amazon to some Australian retailers registered to sell goods over its website, saying it would "start an internal testing phase with a small number of customers on Thursday 23 November".
"You should be prepared to receive orders from this point onward," added the email, which KoalaSafe's Mills said he had received and was authentic.
Going live at this time would help Amazon tap into Black Friday demand. Black Friday, the day after the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday, was so named because spending would surge and retailers would traditionally begin to turn a profit for the year, moving from the red into the black.
While Australia does not celebrate Thanksgiving, which falls on Nov. 24 this year, a growing number of its flagging retail sector companies have adopted Black Friday as a day to promote sales ahead of the all-important pre-Christmas season.
"We already use Amazon around the world so it's just the same as setting up in any other marketplace," said Mills. "But we're very excited to see how many sales come through."
(Reporting by Byron Kaye; Editing by Himani Sarkar)