• Craig Gedey

Has Amazon left it too late in Central Asia?

Amazon has opened its doors to traders in five new Central Asian countries - but for once are they behind the eight ball in terms of their rivals.

From May 24, Sellers in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan have been able to register directly with Amazon, joining the site’s extensive global network.

Previously, traders in those countries have managed to get their products sold on Amazon, by registering themselves in neighbouring nations such as Russia. Extensive reports have highlighted the sale of Kazakhstan souvenirs in particular, even though Amazon was not operating in that country at the time.

But now they will be able to trade formally from their own countries, with the five nations added to Amazon’s list, which can be read in full at: https://sellercentral.amazon.com/gp/help/external/200405020.

The issue for Amazon - whose global extension last week included the purchase of giant Hollywood movie studio MGM - is whether they are actually playing catch-up for once in these five new markets.

A report on news outlet Eurasianet outlined how marketplaces from places such as China and Russia have already stolen a march in these five countries.

Eurasianet noted: “China’s Alibaba got there first. In December, Asel Zhanasova, the deputy minister for trade and integration, told Interfax-Kazakhstan news agency that about 100 Kazakh traders had been added to the Alibaba marketplace over the past couple of years and that they had sold around $17 million worth of goods, including clothes, furniture and children’s wares. Another 50 local companies are expected to join the platform this year.

“Meanwhile, Trade Minister Bakhyt Sultanov announced on Facebook in February that the Russian online marketplace Wildberries had made it easier for Kazakh entrepreneurs to register. It used to be the case that traders wanting to sell to buyers in Russia had to set up a company there and that buyers ended up paying tax twice on the same item.”

Thompson and Holt managing partner Craig Gedey, who has extensive experience using Amazon’s platforms around the world, still expects the online giant to have a major impact in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan.

Gedey said: “Amazon might be late to the online markets there but we’ve seen elsewhere around the world how quickly they can catch up and ultimately dominate. Such is their worldwide brand now that even though they haven’t been operating in those particular five markets so far, anybody selling online there will be aware of the potential that selling on Amazon has.

“It will be interesting to monitor how things develop in coming months but it wouldn’t be surprising at all to see Amazon become the dominant online platform in Central Asia in a relatively short period of time.”

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Thompson and Holt are also offering a free month’s trial of their Monitor and Protect service to help sellers prevent a suspension of ASINs or an their account during the COVID pandemic, more information on how to protect your Amazon seller account from a suspension can be found here.

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