Amazon is all set to launch their new Amazon.es site in Spain on September 15th, according to sources in several Spanish newspapers. While the service will cover only physical goods at the time the store opens, it will expand to digital content including a Spanish Kindle Store before the end of the year. This will be a big step in eCommerce for a country that has reportedly been somewhat late to the game so far, as well as expanding the Amazon empire even more.
The lack of a local Amazon presence hasn’t stopped the company from developing a substantial Spanish following over the years. It is reportedly quite common for people to order through extra-national Amazon sites in order to ensure fair prices, reliable delivery, and good customer service in a way that hasn’t been directly available in the Spanish marketplace. Some even associate the slow adoption of online retail in Spain to the fact that the country has lacked an Amazon presence up until now, so this will spur things for the better in a number of ways.
One place where Amazon will not necessarily have an automatic lead over the competition will, surprisingly, be in the field of eReading. The Amazon.es site is slated to have a Kindle Store open late this year, while the Kobo release is expected any time now, if earlier promises to have their store open by the end of the summer can be believed. Kobo has managed to outdo Kindle on the international front so far in a number of ways, so this is just another front in an ongoing conflict.
On top of the lack of status as the first people on the scene, the Kindle Store in question will not be able to set prices in an advantageous way. There are means in place in Spain to fix eBook prices across the market at about 30% below the cost of their print equivalent. As in the US following the introduction of Agency Model pricing, Amazon will have to find other ways to add value to their platform aside from low prices. If nothing else, at least it’s an effort that they have practice making.
Amazon currently maintains a presence beyond the United States in France, Germany, China, Italy, Canada, Japan, and the UK. Their Kindle line has made it to the UK and Germany so far, with further international expansion said to be a priority.
Many have conjectured that there will be a large push with localized devices is loosely planned for after the introduction of a Kindle without a hardware keyboard, which would obviously help with pressing adoption in countries where English is not the primary language. Time will tell if this manifests, but with many expecting a new Kindle with a touchscreen as early as October there would seem to be very little to prevent it. The speculated-upon move to an Android OS for the Kindle eReader in addition to the Kindle Tablet might make localization more problematic, but until an implementation is actually seen it is hard to do more than speculate.