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Amazon Business launched in April 2015 as a purchasing solution for businesses. It brought the convenience of Amazon marketplace shopping to the business world and the business world went wild. By July 2017, Amazon Business had opened its one millionth customer account. That’s a lot of customers in a very short amount of time. Clearly, Amazon Business must be onto something. They are defying conventional wisdom about how the business wants to do business and smart B2B sellers will pay attention. By studying the success of Amazon Business, proprietary B2B eCommerce websites can gain insights and glean strategies to replicate.

Why Amazon Business?

Amazon hasn’t grown to the internet behemoth it is today by being lucky. It has grown because it clearly understands the ability of data to chart a path through unknown territory to arrive at success. So why Amazon Business?  The answer doesn’t simply lay in additional revenue from fees. The seller fees for Amazon Business are the same as for the regular Amazon marketplace. Fees are not where Amazon is focused. Where Amazon really scores is with the tremendous amount of additional data they can collect with each business purchase. And they are continuing to add hundreds of buyers and sellers each week to gather even more data. Amazon collects this data, analyzes it and uses it to further hone the customer experience. A continually improving customer experience breeds more customers, more purchases, and even more data.

In addition, all of this data allows Amazon to identify new markets and sellers, better negotiate with existing sellers on pricing and fulfillment, and thereby increasing Amazon’s margin and market share. For example, they’ve identified equipment and materials for the life sciences industry as a fast-growing sector. So, it’s no wonder that research facilities and pharmaceutical companies are flocking to Amazon Business to buy their supplies. That’s just one example of how Amazon Business is satisfying the purchasing needs of large institutions and disrupting the B2B model in the process.

Giving Buyers What They Want

We all know that corporate buyers want the convenience of the retail eCommerce experience. But Amazon business understands that B2B buying has different needs, and they meet these needs head-on.

Managing Order Approval

Since it launched, Amazon Business has included a workflow for routing order approvals within the buying organization. From day one, Amazon understood the complexity and variety of processes involved in making a B2B purchase. This understanding led them to invest heavily in digitizing the approval workflow for the buyer. Business buyers responded by opening accounts and opening checkbooks. Clearly, Amazon understood their needs.  

Electronic Invoicing

Amazon Business buyers can receive one electronic invoice for purchases from multiple sellers. Amazon invoices for the products, collects payment and then distributes funds to the various sellers involved in the transaction. This greatly simplifies accounting for the buyer. While proprietary B2B eCommerce websites are not marketplaces, there is a lesson to be learned here. Buyers want the option of electronic invoicing and payment which would empower them to easily track their expenses or report on them. That’s why smart B2B merchants will provide as many options as possible for invoicing and payment to meet their customers’ needs.

Personalized Pricing and Discounts

When an Amazon Business customer logs into their account, they see customized pricing from multiple sellers. Tiered and volume discounts are already configured into the pricing they see. If a customer wants to negotiate further, they can “Click to Get Quote” and contact the seller. In addition, the account administrator can curate the product catalog for an individual buyer or a group to restrict defined categories of products and prevent noncompliant purchases. Successful B2B sellers will create customized pricing and catalogs, so buyers get the pricing transparency and catalog curation control they want.

One Account – Multiple Buyers

Amazon understands that large or complex organizations have very diverse purchasing needs. These days a centralized buying function don’t make as much sense as decentralized purchasing with centralized control. That’s why Amazon Business accounts allow the business account administrator within a company to delegate purchasing authority to individuals, groups, and departments. If an order reaches the set spending limit, it is automatically routed for approval. This allows the individual closest to the purchase to identify the product that best fits their need while still monitoring spend. One business account is reported to have over 100,000 users. Smart B2B sellers will make sure that their website allows the buying organizations to control establishment of sub-users.

Reporting and Tracking Functions

Centralized control isn’t possible without a robust reporting and tracking function for purchases. Amazon Business offers a powerful analytics engine for users to personalize reports. Administrators and users can create templates for reports that meet their needs for tracking purchasing and spending data.

Easy Integration

B2B buyers love purchasing online, but they want to do it on their terms. Amazon gets this. They integrate with over 30 e-procurement software applications and support punchout catalogs for Ariba, Coupa, SciQuest and more. Proprietary B2B sellers need to be prepared to meet their buyers halfway with platforms that integrate with e-procurement systems they use most.

Prime Shipping

Amazon tapped into B2C buyers desire for quick shipping with their Prime program. Turns out B2B buyers want fast delivery too. The Amazon Business Prime program fills this need. While you may not be able to utilize multiple fulfillment warehouses and offer 2nd-day delivery, you must recognize the buyer’s need for a fast and timely delivery. That means filling and shipping orders quickly and negotiating with shippers for the best rates. Integrating shipping with your e-Commerce platform will give buyers the ability to self-serve order tracking.

Lessons Learned

No matter the size of the organization, B2B buyers want an eCommerce experience. It’s up to you to deliver it. Fortunately, for B2B business owners who already realized the benefits of building their proprietary website versus just selling via Amazon Business, OroCommerce contains all of the features used by Amazon Business right out-of-the-box. In addition, it includes OroCRM, a powerful tool for collecting and analyzing data, that can be used just like Amazon did to enhance your customer experience and increase your market share.
Contact us today to learn how OroCommerce can help you build and grow your online presence.