This is a little embarrassing, but I’ll admit it anyway. When I run a Google search on “Amazon” and images of tropical foliage appear, I realize I’ve almost forgotten that it was a rainforest first. It’s hard to
remember a time when this constant in the e-commerce space didn’t exist. I don’t know about you, but I use this website at least once a month, for anything from socks to dog treats. For me, it’s less about avoiding brick-and-mortar, and more about access to choice and information like customer reviews, country of origin, sizing, and more.
Besides the value I derive from Amazon as a consumer, I’ve taken a personal and professional interest in watching the company develop: Personal, as I find Jeff Bezos and Amazon’s go-for-broke innovation strategy to be fascinating, and professional, as Amazon started sniffing around the MRO market in 2012 with its beta test site, AmazonSupply.
As many of you know, Amazon upped the ante in late April of this year when they announced the launch of a B2B e-marketplace dubbed “Amazon Business.” In short, Amazon Business creates opportunities for both buyers and sellers of industrial products. For the buyers, Amazon says the site allows for the “convenience and value customers have come to know and love from Amazon, with new features and unique benefits tailored to businesses.” Additionally, customers of the new outfit will be privy to free two-day shipping on tens of millions of eligible items, multi-user business accounts, approval workflow, payment solutions, tax exemptions, dedicated customer support and much more. For some industrial suppliers, joining the marketplace will remove the e-commerce barrier, and provide access to new end users, geographies – the whole ball of wax.
My colleagues and I spent some time chatting on the day Amazon Business was announced, and we wondered what this would mean for the average buyer of MRO products in our space. Would they embrace
the Amazon Business marketplace as a procurement channel, or would they stick with their traditional supply base? In our research, industrial distributors tell us that their customers do business with them
for many reasons, but there are several that come up before price, like relationships, product availability, technical support, and delivery time. But as many manufacturing organizations move towards corporate purchasing that highlights side-by-side price quotes, do these additional factors still matter most?
After the Amazon Business announcement, I had a chance to chat with their VP, Prentis Wilson, who explained how the site came to be. “One of the things we hear a lot from our business customers is, they really want the Amazon shopping experience when buying for work. And with Amazon Business, that’s exactly what we’re providing,” he said.
So, is it enough for you to ditch some of your current MRO suppliers and head over to Amazon? I have a feeling I know the answers to some of these questions, but would love to hear from some of you. We’d be
willing to keep your thoughts completely anonymous, but we’d love to know – Do you plan to use Amazon Business? Why or why not? Email me at [email protected].