Amazon's Aussie hiring spree as it prepares for local launch
IT IS the global behemoth poised to shake up Australia's $300 billion retail industry.
Amazon is setting up shop Down Under, with local warehouses set to open in September, allowing customers to get items delivered in lightning speed.
The company is officially on a hiring spree, with more than 100 roles advertised in IT, marketing, sales and HR - and that's just the beginning.
Some of the positions up for grabs include responsibility for hiring and managing teams, meaning many more jobs could be on their way.
To house its expanding workforce, Amazon has leased extra space at the Sydney office it opened last year; its staff now occupy five floors of the 47-storey tower at No. 2 Park St.
Among the roles listed are those that explicitly reference Amazon Fresh, the company's first official confirmation that the innovative supermarket offering's Australian launch is imminent - with bricks-and-mortar grocery stores expected to be a part of a strategy to be unveiled next year.
"As a member of a team focused on innovation, you will be responsible for building a system to support a new and confidential Amazon Fresh initiative that will help revolutionise the grocery shopping experience," an advert for a Brisbane role says.
"We are looking for a software engineer to design and develop the systems that power our delivery services and help us take this business to the next level."
Another ad describes the mission of Amazon Fresh, saying: "With a huge selection ranging from milk to electronics, customers can order by 10am and have their products delivered by dinner," it read.
"You say you want a bunch of bananas, a dozen bagels from your local bakery, and a coffee maker delivered to your doorstep between 8am and 9am tomorrow? We say no problem."
JOBS 'CREATED AND DESTROYED'
Amazon is understood to be in the process of creating a completely new grocery shopping experience, integrating physical stores with online ordering in a way never seen before.
Its fast, fresh and cheap delivery service, available as part of a $US14.99 monthly Amazon Prime membership, already has American shoppers hooked, making lugging groceries a thing of the past.
And the company is opening a hi-tech Amazon Go convenience store near its Seattle headquarters, believed to be a prototype of the model it plans to role out globally.
It's the incredible efficiency of Amazon's distribution system that makes it such a powerful retail player.
For Australians accustomed to waiting weeks for items bought online to be delivered from overseas, its local warehouses will be a game changer.
But its very success could bring a hefty downside; while Amazon is creating new jobs, it is likely to destroy others.
When the company recently announced plans to create 100,000 jobs in the United States in the next 18 months, it prompted criticism that for every new role created by Amazon, many more traditional retail positions would be eliminated.
"There are huge benefits to consumers from Amazon," Harvard economics professor Lawrence Katz told the New York Times; "But the workers they are hiring aren't the same ones being laid off."
Department stores in the US have laid of thousands of staff in recent months, and while Australian retailers have so far only suffered limited damage from online retail - with the vast majority of purchases still being made in person - Amazon's arrival will shake things up.
Stacy Mitchell from advocacy group the Institute for Local Self-Reliance critiqued Amazon's impact on the US jobs market in a paper published late last year, saying that many of the company's warehouse workers were short-term contractors paid below the industry average.
"Amazon is spreading its low-wage, precarious labour model to package delivery, threatening the jobs of nearly one million unionised, middle-income workers at UPS and the US Postal Service," she wrote.
Then there's the inevitable march towards automation, with Amazon already using robots in its newest fulfilment centres and developing unmanned delivery drones.
Amazon has previously stated that its impact on employment numbers extends beyond its direct employees, claiming that its online merchants sustained an extra 300,000 US jobs.
The company did not respond to a news.com.au request for comment.