Subscribe

Amazon’s SA arrival expected to boost job creation

Sibahle Malinga
By Sibahle Malinga, ITWeb senior news journalist.
Johannesburg, 12 Mar 2024
Inside Amazon’s US-based warehouse and fulfilment centre.
Inside Amazon’s US-based warehouse and fulfilment centre.

E-commerce giant Amazon is expected to create an incremental number of part-time and full-time jobs in SA’s e-commerce sector when it sets up its presence locally this year.

This is according to local e-commerce players participating in the recent Insaka e-commerce virtual summit roundtable, organised by the Insaka E-commerce Academy.

The discussion, moderated by Warrick Kernes, founder of the Insaka E-commerce Academy, centred on SA’s growing online shopping market, and the impact of new players such as Amazon on the smaller, burgeoning businesses.

In October, the US retailer confirmed Amazon.co.za will go live in SA in 2024.

Robert Koen, GM of the Sub-Saharan Africa region for Amazon, said at the time: “We look forward to launching Amazon.co.za in SA, providing local sellers, brand owners and entrepreneurs – small and large – the opportunity to grow their business with Amazon, and delivering great value and a convenient shopping experience for customers across SA.”

E-commerce players believe Amazon’s local debut will enable economic opportunities in SA, including job creation and a platform for small businesses to list their product offerings and scale their companies.

Yaeesh Moosa, head of marketplace at Takealot.com, noted that initially Amazon is expected to create an average number of jobs, as it will plug into its existing systems and infrastructure. However, as it continues investing aggressively, this is expected to increase significantly in the long-term.

“Any new business starting up in e-commerce and logistics will create an incremental volume of jobs and there will be an impact on job creation in the logistics side too. There is a lot of opportunities for job creation and we see this with their businesses globally.

“They [Amazon] do create a lot of jobs, but in the short-term, I don't think there should be too much expectation for job creation, only when there is big investment in future,” explained Moosa.

Leon Qwabe, founder of last mile delivery service Order Kasi, highlighted the importance of job opportunities being created in township communities.

“If they [Amazon] do open up delivery services to the township market, we are hoping to see those volumes creating opportunities for township-based jobs too. We would like to see many volumes of job creation being directed into the township market and become a source of income for delivery people and other jobs there. This will also ensure customers who live in townships don’t have to travel to nearby cities to collect their deliveries.”

Leon Qwabe, founder of Order Kasi, and Yaeesh Moosa, head of marketplace at Takealot.com.
Leon Qwabe, founder of Order Kasi, and Yaeesh Moosa, head of marketplace at Takealot.com.

The panellists agreed the progression of SA’s e-commerce sector has been a success story, noting current players should all continue to see a healthy growth rate, despite a global player entering the market.

According to research firm Statista, Amazon.com’s full-time and part-time employees peaked in 2021, when it employed a workforce of 1.6 million, excluding external contractors. However, in 2023, the number dropped to 1.5 million.

Amazon says it employs more than 150 000 people in permanent roles across 21 European Union member states, and has a US workforce of around 950 000 staff members.

Craig Lubbe, head of business: marketplace at e-tailer Bob Group, commented: “SA’s e-commerce sector presents many opportunities. Online trade is currently at 5% and continues to show a healthy growth rate, with the potential to double in the near future.

“While we don’t know how much Amazon will take from that, we do know that we have strong market players and we should not discount that.”

It’s clear that Amazon will accelerate opportunities for small businesses that want to list on its platform, but from a job creation perspective, it remains to be seen exactly how many employment opportunities the e-tailer will provide, Lubbe noted.

“I don't know how many jobs will be created, but I can imagine there will be some level of job creation purely by creating interest and demand for trading online, and more people opting for online shopping locally.

“I can imagine there will be an impact on the smaller logistics companies that Amazon will be using. Whether that's good for business, I don't know. It would be worth looking at their track record and how Amazon has interfaced with other small businesses across the globe.”

Share