Tech

Amazon launches first online store in the Nordics, gets off to rocky start

Key Points
  • Amazon has launched its first Nordic online store in Sweden with the domain name Amazon.se.
  • The launch got off to a rocky start with Amazon showing the wrong flag and mistranslating product descriptions.
  • In Europe, Amazon has set up online stores in the U.K., Germany, France, Italy, Spain, and The Netherlands.
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos
Alex Wong | Getty Images

LONDON — Amazon announced Wednesday that it has launched its first Nordic online store in Sweden as the e-commerce giant looks to expand further across the European continent. 

Citizens in Sweden will now be able to order products through Amazon.se instead of having to make purchases via Amazon stores in other European countries including the British store (Amazon.co.uk) or the German store (Amazon.de), where they were shown a limited selection of products and incurred high delivery fees.

Amazon Vice President for European Expansion, Alex Ootes, said in a statement that Amazon.se will feature over 150 million products including tens of thousands from Swedish businesses.

"We will continue to work hard to earn the trust of Swedish customers by growing our product range, ensuring low prices, and providing a convenient and trusted shopping experience," said Ootes.

In a bid to get as many of Sweden's 10 million sparsely populated inhabitants as possible using Amazon.se, which was confirmed in August, Amazon is offering free delivery on orders over 229 Swedish krona ($25).

The launch got off to a bit of a bad start. Amazon used the Argentinian flag instead of the Swedish flag in the "choose your location" section and a frying pan was listed as a woman's item.

Amazon was also criticized for wrongly translating some product descriptions. A children's puzzle containing yellow rapeseed flowers, for example, was described as having a "sexual assault flower motif," while a cat-themed hairbrush was described with the Swedish slang word for "vagina."

"Many products on Amazon Sweden came from auto-translated listings on other Amazon marketplaces, which enabled it to have a deep catalog on day one, but has unfortunately resulted in many wrong, sometimes comical, and even offensive Swedish translations," wrote Juozas Kaziukenas, founder of e-commerece intelligence firm Marketplace Pulse.

In response, Amazon issued a statement saying: "We want to thank everyone for highlighting these issues and helping us make the changes and improve Amazon.se. Whilst we are really excited to have launched Amazon.se today with more than 150 million products, it is only day one for us here in Sweden and we are committed to constantly improving the customer experience."

The statement continued: "Therefore, if anyone spots any issues with product pages, please do use the link on the page to provide feedback and we will make the necessary changes."

While Amazon.se provides local retailers with a new platform through which to sell their goods and a convenient shopping platform for customers, some Swedes are concerned that Amazon doesn't treat employees fairly and that it could threaten other local firms.

One Twitter user wrote: "So Amazon opened in Sweden today. All I say is, why? I see no reason why I would order anything from Amazon when we already have Scandinavian companies that provide better services, better prices and faster shipping."

Sweden is the 17th country where Amazon has set up an online store. In Europe, Amazon has set up online stores in the U.K., Germany, France, Italy, Spain, and The Netherlands, where it launched just six months ago.