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Amazon makes its official debut in Belgium
American online retail giant Amazon has finally made its official debut in Belgium under the domain Amazon.com.be.
Before its launch, Belgian residents looking to shop from the controversial webshop – which has made headlines in recent months for alleged labour abuses that have prompted a wave of unionisation efforts – had to navigate to the Dutch, French or German domains for the store.
“From now on, our customers in Belgium will be able to benefit from a better shopping experience, local and available in several languages, without forgetting the Prime benefits, just in time to do their Christmas shopping among a large choice of international and Belgian brands,” said Eva Faict, general manager of Amazon.com.be.
The Belgian platform aims to compete with its French counterpart through cheaper subscriptions for Amazon Prime, which will cost €25 a year in Belgium versus €69.90 in France.
Those Prime benefits remain more or less the same for both countries: earlier delivery dates, access to a better streaming platform, exclusive offers and storage in the Amazon cloud.
Belgian customers will also be able to order Amazon-branded products such as the Kindle e-reader, Echo speakers and Ring doorbells, which are not available for purchase through the French portal.
In addition to a catalogue of more than 180 million products, the Belgian Amazon also offers a special category called "Brands of Belgium", which features products made in Belgium such as specialty chocolates, Gabylou boots and Kambukka water bottles.
The Belgian version of Amazon hopes to build a better reputation than it currently has in the US, where it is often cited as an example of the perils of late-stage capitalism, a term defined as absurdities, contradictions, crises, injustices, inequality, and exploitation created by modern business development.
An expose on the company from one American media outlet called it “worse than Wal-Mart”, revealing “Amazon's sick brutality and secret history of ruthlessly intimidating workers”.
In Belgium, the e-commerce giant says it will focus on local and sustainable products to attract the more socially-conscious Belgian consumer.
Hoping to distance itself from the common criticisms of poor working conditions, an exploitative pricing policy and its sometimes disastrous stock management, Amazon intends to present a completely different face to Belgian customers.
It has been preparing for the launch for some time, with more than 150 employees in Brussels and 50 in Antwerp, where its stock management will take place.
“Amazon's arrival in Belgium opens the doors to new markets for local companies,” Faict said.
Amazon is promising to make it easier for small and medium sized enterprises to sell their products internationally.
The company is also touting its small and selective efforts to move towards sustainability by reducing its packaging or switching to more environmentally-friendly options over plastic, though only in certain markets.
While plastic air cushions remain the norm for American customers, Belgian ones will likely see recycled paper in the packages that contain their orders.