With international “shopping season” getting into gear – kicked off on November 11 by a shopping event originating in China – the Israel Postal Authority had expected to handle some 14 million packages sent from abroad through the end of December. But that was before Amazon launched its surprise Free Shipping to Israel deal this week – and as a result, the Authority is being forced to reevaluate the amount of resources it will need to allocate to handle the expected significant increase in deliveries.
Amazon will be using regular mail package delivery, as well as shipping services like UPS and DHL. An official in one of the companies was quoted by Yediot Acahronot as saying that “packages are already on the way and they will keep coming. It appears that this is going to be bigger than Black Friday. This may set a record for the amount of goods sent in a single period.”
Seen as an experiment to determine how it can include Israel in its international shipping network, Amazon – which in recent days also deployed a Hebrew-language site to enable local shopping – announced a special deal for Israelis: free shipping on orders of $49 or more from its U.S. site. The deal applied to some 8,000 items of all types – including heavy and bulky items that would usually cost significant amounts of money to ship. The deal began on Sunday, and currently does not appear to have an expiration date.
Not used to the idea of free international shipping, Israelis massed to the Amazon site on Tuesday, ordering products of all types, including toys, clothing, kitchen appliances, purses, personal products, housewares and much more. According to Yediot Acharonot, the most popular item was an 18-piece set of Corelle dishes, which sold for less than NIS 200.
In a letter to the Finance Ministry, Uriel Lin, head of the Israel Trade Association, said that the Amazon deal needed to be checked for its legality, as it appeared that the company was trying to undercut competitors, possibly with the intent of driving them out of business and establishing a monopoly. “I request that a thorough investigation be made of Amazon’s activities in the local market, and especially the extraordinary steps it has taken to create an unfair competitive advantage over Israeli businesses. We must not be naïve and ignore the events that occurred in other countries, and we especially cannot forsake the retail industry, which employs some 300,000 people. It would be tragic if we do not defend ourselves,” he added.