What’s happened in the six months since Amazon’s disastrous launch in Sweden?

Amazon's long-awaited arrival in Sweden in October was marked by embarrassing translation and currency conversion fails. But what happened next? So far, not much, but experts warn it's still too early to write off the e-commerce behemoth.

What's happened in the six months since Amazon's disastrous launch in Sweden?
Amazon has been quiet since launching in October. Photo: TT

Ahead of Amazon’s launch, many had speculated that the company’s arrival would increase competition in e-commerce in Sweden, leading to shrinking margins, lower prices for consumers, and new opportunities for smaller internet retailers.

But ever since, there’s been little heard about Amazon. According to an analysis of Google searches in Sweden, interest in Amazon was at its greatest on the day of the launch, and has since ebbed away.


According to the price comparison site Pricerunner, it’s hard to see that the company’s launch has led to lower prices at all.

“It’s had no impact at all,” the company’s chief executive Niklas Storåkers told Sweden’s TT newswire. “If we look at the prices of the most popular products in Sweden, they’ve only won a very marginal share, and don’t have sufficiently good prices to make people want to shop with them.”

The Swedish online book retailer Bokus, has also yet to notice a significant impact from Amazon’s launch.

“Sweden is different from the other markets Amazon has entered. Here, the online book market already overtook the physical market as the biggest sales channel in 2012,” the company’s chief executive Maria Edsman told TT. “But we are following them, just as we do our other competitors.”

The clothes retailer Ellos, one of the biggest names that had agreed to use Amazon as a channel ahead of the launch, did not comment on how many additional sales it had won.

“We see that it’s possible to reach more new customers through selling on Amazon,” the company’s head of business development Alexandra Dornerus said in a statement to TT. “Selling on other platforms is part of Ellos Group’s strategy for increased growth.”

John Davidson, chief economist for the retail industry trade body Svensk Handel, said that he nonetheless saw growing interest in selling through Amazon among his members, predicting that the US retailer would slowly but surely become a significant force in Sweden.

“The Swedish market is already mature and the level of competition is high, with thin margins and low profitability,” he said. “That makes it hard to see how Amazon will rapidly take a very large market share.

“But I’m in the camp that believes that Amazon will in the long-term be a powerful and challenging competitor, simply on account of its size and its ability to press down a little more on prices that are already low.”

Anna Nordlander, a consultant and Amazon expert, warned against giving too much emphasis to what she called the company’s “shockingly bad launch”.

“The launch in Sweden followed the pretty normal pattern for how Amazon enters new countries. When they think they’re sufficiently good to offer something to the consumer, they just press ‘play’ and sort out the details afterwards,” she said.

According to Boston Consulting Group, Amazon was already offering 150 million products in Sweden by the turn of the year.

“We are already used to quick and free deliveries in Sweden, what we aren’t used to is the concept of an ‘everything store’,” Nordlander said.

Carl Helgesson, chief executive of Rankona Mazon, which helps retailers sell on Amazon, said he expected the company to develop rapidly in Sweden this year.

“We’re going to see a more complete product over the year, and if you look at the long term, Amazon is going to take a strong position in Sweden, that’s something I’m completely convinced about,” he said.

Member comments

  1. It’s all about delivery. If Amazon can do next/same day delivery to your house (Amazon Prime. Which in many countries also includes 1TB cloud storage, music and Streaming of films/TV) then it will be a big plus. Having to trudge to your local store and wait amongst a gathering of all and sundry is a huge put off as is the virtual monopoly of Post Nord with their rubbish delivery. I suspect they are not yet able to blow the custom and practice of slack delivery Swedish customers seem to accept but wait and see.

    1. I agree 100% with the previous post. It’s all about the delivery. Unfortunately is doomed until they can find another delivery method other than Post Nord. I was so excited when Amazon launched in Sweden. I placed four orders. My first purchase in November was a big success. It was to a rural address in Småland. The only problem was arriving a few days earlier that projected. So I happily placed additional orders for Christmas presents for my relatives. In spite of paying extra for home delivery (the recipients were home in Covid lockdown), none were delivered to their homes (a house in Värmland, an apartment in Stockholm and a house in Uppsala). Instead they all got notices to pick up their packages at Post Nord at a designated site. The Värmland delivery was available for pickup but not until after Christmas. The Stockholm and Uppsala deliveries could not be found at the designated Post Nord sites. Somehow they were lost by Post Nord. Apparently Post Nord has no online tracking system in spite of Sweden being one of the most high tech nations in the world. Amazon refunded my money, fortunately, but I won’t use them again until they get a better delivery system.

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