Procurement · 4 April 2017

Amazon Business to offer trade counter for commercial customers

Amazon Business
Amazon Business will allow subscribers to access analytics and to set spending limits

Ecommerce giant Amazon has signalled its intention to tap into the commercial trade market, with a new Amazon Business service that aims to serve the procurement needs of small business owners.

Upon launch of its latest subscription service, the site announced added investment in product categories such as office supplies and industrial tools alongside specially tailored tools that look to mirror the experience of a traditional bricks and mortar trade counter.

Amazon figures showed that trade customers accounted for 40 per cent of all sales on the website, and it will hope that new business-friendly features and an expanded product range will tempt owners of smaller firms to embrace the service.

“Whether you are a sole trader, a buyer in a mid-size company or a chief procurement officer in a large multi-national organisation, Amazon Business has the products and capabilities to serve your needs,” said Bill Burkland, head of Amazon Business UK.

To bring its offering into line with the trade experience, the package offers subscribers VAT pricing and invoicing capabilities, as well as the option to add purchase order (PO) numbers.

Amazon claimed that detailed analytics would give Amazon Business users greater visibility and control over their orders. Small business owners using a Visa Commercial Card could also benefit from access to detailed transaction data.

In an attempt to demonstrate the convenience of the new service to the business community, Amazon Business enables integration into a number of e-procurement systems.

Commenting on the launch of Amazon Business, Paul Egan, CTO of startup incubator Founders Factory, said subscribers could benefit the offering’s efficiency.

“As a company, we want to spend as little time as possible purchasing the thousands of things we need to run our business,” he added.

Business owners in the US have had access to Amazon Business since April 2015, and the bespoke trade counter generated over $1bn in sales in its first year after serving more than 400,000 companies. Since launching in Germany four months ago, over 50,000 business customers have signed up.

Data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) valued the business-to-business (B2B) sales market at £96.5bn in 2015, and the new service represents an attempt by Amazon to capitalise on this lucrative market.

Amazon Business marks the website’s latest move to tap into the small business market. In July 2016, Amazon was cleared to fly drones on UK shores to bring its Prime Air service to Britan, while in November 2016 it expanded the Prime Now service, offering on-demand delivery for a handful of independent retailers in London.

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Praseeda Nair is the editorial director of Business Advice, and its sister publication for growing businesses, Real Business. She's an impassioned advocate for women in leadership, and likes to profile business owners, advisors and experts in the field of entrepreneurship and management.

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