“B2B is fast becoming the bigger online opportunity” was the provocative claim on the opening slide at Amazon’s packed presentation at the eCommerce Expo in London.
Citing projections by Frost and Sullivan that the B2B eCommerce market would be worth more than twice the B2C one by 2020, Head of Amazon Business Marketplace UK Nikhil Amin claimed that customer experience was the key differentiator it was bringing to this emerging space.
For those who are unaware of it, Amazon Business is the firm’s dedicated eCommerce website for business products. Alongside the US and UK, where it launched in 2015 and 2017 respectively, it also operates in Germany, France, Japan and India. It opened in Italy and Spain in the second quarter of 2018.
According to figures disclosed at the end of 2017, the UK portal had 90,000 customers after nine months of activity.
According to Amin, the portal aims to bring a consumer-style experience to the business market, furthering Amazon’s stated mission of being “Earth’s most customer-centric company”.
The key tenets of this approach are selection, price and convenience, Amin claimed.
The website sits on top of the normal Amazon website and has a similar look and feel, but Amin emphasises that it is very much its own portal with its own features designed for B2B customers. This includes its own bespoke menu of categories, as well as business-relevant banner ads on the home page.
It also includes a number of specific tools for the business market, which Amin said were attempts to address particular grievances of customers. The platform brings two million suppliers onto one marketplace in an effort to make it easier to manage fragmented supplier bases and offers personalised search options as well as Prime fulfilment.
Of particular importance are the payment options. For example, users can use procurement cards and pay via net 30-day payment terms.
Amazon also looks to address problems with managing spend across an organisation by allowing multi-user accounts but also a workflow for approvals, allowing a company’s procurement manager to supervise all transactions and curtail “rogue spending”. The company account also offers the ability to approve particular products for repeat purchases, while recently added features include the ability to filter for listings that provide a business invoice.
On the other side of the transaction, sellers can set specific prices for business customers, offer quantity discounts and use the same fulfilment options as users of the consumer marketplace.
According to Amin, the portal is seeing usage from companies across a range of sectors, including education, healthcare, government, construction, tech, business services, non-profit, manufacturing and automotive.
Whether Amazon will achieve the same hegemony in B2B remains to be seen, but the pitch to both customers and sellers is clear: business products with a consumer experience.
Image credit: Amazon