Amazon Business: Is It Right For You?
With over half the US consumer eCommerce market, Amazon knows how to engage shoppers online as well as any other retailer. In 2015, they launched "Amazon Business" with the intent of translating that success into a major B2B win. The retailer now claims over $10 billion in global B2B sales annually and that 55 of the US Fortune 100 shop there. But is Amazon Business right for YOUR business? Let's have a look...
Wait - It's The Same Amazon.com!
Amazon's description of their Business covers the basics well: "Amazon Business is the B2B marketplace on Amazon, providing business customers with the pricing, selection and convenience of Amazon, with features and benefits designed for businesses of all sizes."
It's VERY important to understand, though, that Amazon Business isn't really a different store at all. This point can be really confusing at first to both brands and shoppers. If you can find a product on Amazon.com, you'll find it on Amazon Business as well. This means that the pallet of toilet paper that you're trying to sell to hospitals will also be available to families looking to stock up for the coming asteroid strike apocalypse.
Importantly, your core item content will also look the same to business buyers and consumers. Keep this in mind because they may be using your product for different purposes and you should try to sell to both groups if possible. Those heavy duty safety boots? Your "pro" audience will care a whole lot about toe protection but teens wearing them as a fashion accessory will be all about the look. You may find that you need to cater to both in order to maximize sales!
...But There Are Some Special Features
While assortment and content are mirrored for the consumer and the business buyer, there are some special features to the Amazon Business model that are tailored to business buyers and sellers. These are summarized below...
Key features for business buyers:
- The service is "free" - there is no additional charge to be a part of Amazon Business and you can use it with your Prime account (there are premium options available, however, to business that want or need them).
- Multi-user accounts are possible so that you can share payment methods, shipping addresses, and more.
- Accounts feature analytics that allow for filtering, reconciliation, and more.
- Special discounts are available for businesses only as well as quantity discounts for larger orders.
- Tax-exempt purchases are available for eligible organizations (non-profits for example).
- Credit lines are also available with approval.
- Business buyers get dedicated "business customer support."
Key features for business sellers:
- Sellers can offer special pricing to incentivize larger purchases.
- Seller Credentials can be used to highlight special business status (options below).
- Sellers can track B2B sales including by industry and sub-industry.
- Sellers can accept requests for quotes - B2B buyers can request special quantity discounts.
- Sellers get a special business seller profile that reassures your customers.
How Business Pricing Works
Business pricing is fairly straightforward and simple. Several options are available:
- Offer an alternate business-only price on all purchases.
- Offer percent-off quantity discounts - these can be set in tiers as pictured below.
- Offer fixed price quantity discounts (example: $10 ea. for 100 units, $8 ea. for 200 units)
Business Pricing discounts can be managed from within Seller Central on the "Manage Inventory" page. Note that these discounts do not expire automatically. If you intend to use these for time-limited B2B promotions, make absolutely certain that you have a process in place to go and remove the discounts at a later date.
Using Credentials to Stand Apart
Credentials (or Certifications) are a way that you can make yourself stand out to B2B buyers. When you are approved for a credential, it will show on your business profile and on your item pages. Several types are available:
- National diversity certifications - examples: women-owned, minority-owned, veteran-owned, and more
- State diversity certifications - example: Washington state minority business enterprise
- Quality certifications - examples: ISO 9001 - Quality Management Standards, ISO 13485 - Medical Devices Standards
Is It Right For You?
Whether you're a buyer or a seller, there's very little downside to participating in this program. On the buy side, you'll get to take advantage of special discounts that you wouldn't otherwise be able to see. On the sell side, you'll get access to exclusive opportunities to strengthen your brand communication and build trust with the biggest buyers on Amazon. While Amazon is still primarily a consumer marketplace, we expect Amazon Business to become an increasingly important part of their strategy.
Would you like to discuss your eCommerce B2B strategy with one of our experts? We'd love to talk. Please schedule a consultation here!