Amazon has reportedly been reaching out to large third-party sellers in the North American market, encouraging them to hold off from listing their products on SOUQ.com in favour of a new local e-com platform Amazon is developing.
The report by CNBC suggests Amazon may be planning to shutdown SOUQ.com in favour of a new platform better-integrated with its native logistics and technology systems.
A spokesperson for SOUQ.com told Logistics Middle East they could not comment on “rumours or speculation”. Interestingly, the spokesperson’s response came from an Amazon.ae email domain.
It’s unclear whether Amazon plans to re-brand SOUQ.com as Amazon.ae, or shut it down altogether. Amazon has also refused to comment.
In 2017, the e-com giant closed Quidsi, the parent company of diapers.com and soap.com, which it acquired for US $545 million seven years earlier. Amazon had little need for Quidsi because it was selling the same products on Amazon.com. Amazon acquired SOUQ.com for US $580-million in 2017.
“Following Amazon’s acquisition of Souq, I want to offer you participation in a groundbreaking new sales project in the Mid East,” Amazon wrote in an invitation to a select group of sellers. “Our program is simple, straightforward and allows you to expand your selection to a new base of Amazon buyers.”
The merchants that spoke with CNBC asked not to be identified because the discussions with Amazon were private, and Logistics Middle East has not independently verified the accuracy of the invitation emails from Amazon.
The new Middle East marketplace would look similar to Amazon’s other international websites, like Amazon U.K. or Amazon Germany, giving it a more unified appearance and brand in the region, sellers said.
It would also come with the same seller back-end system used in the U.S, and access to Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA), the company’s storage and shipping service.
For now, Amazon still lists dozens of job openings for SOUQ.com, with most of the positions in Cairo, Riyadh and Amman, Jordan. The company is looking to hire software developers and vendor managers.