The news that developers are building Amazon's first Irish "fulfilment centre" (a fancy name for a warehouse) at Baldonnell on the edge of Dublin lends weight to suggestions that the web retailing giant may be planning to launch an Amazon. ie site specifically for the local market.
The Dublin project is significant for Irish customers of Amazon for several reasons. It recently opened a far smaller facility in Rathcoole in west Dublin for Irish users of its Amazon Prime service. But this is just a glorified distribution hub, which does not hold stock and basically just co-ordinates packages that arrive from abroad until they are picked up for delivery to Prime customers around the State.
According to Bloomberg and also property sources of The Irish Times, the new Baldonnell facility will be more like the fulfilment centres it has pioneered in the US and elsewhere. Instead of just sorting packages from the UK as it does at its Rathcoole middleman facility, the Baldonnell unit will hold stock of products listed for sale on its website. Orders by Irish customers would, for the first time in Ireland, be picked and packed at the Dublin facility, and then delivered. An Post is its current delivery partner.
At the moment, most Irish Amazon purchases are packed in the UK and must run the gauntlet of Brexit checks, incurring the risk of extra charges and delays. When Baldonnell comes onstream, products will avoid the “Brexit pipeline” (as An Post calls it) and reach Irish customers faster.
Facebook and Google are the standard bearers of US tech investment here. But Amazon is also deepening its links to the State. As revealed in The Irish Times commercial property pages recently, it is also seeking space for 1,000 workers in Cork, as well as recently striking a deal for more offices in Dublin.
With the Baldonnell scheme, Amazon will likely then have the capability for same-day or next-day deliveries for most of its Irish customers, which is restricted currently by its use of facilities in the UK to serve this market. Surely the much anticipated launch of Amazon.ie is only a matter of time.