Online retailer Amazon on Tuesday launched Amazon Business, a new online marketplace that caters to the business community, providing an easy access to hundreds of millions of products.
Amazon Business will sell everything from IT, lab equipment, office supplies, industrial products to education and food service supplies to small, medium and large businesses alike. It also sells difficult to find products such as industrial deep fryers, dent pullers, 55-gallon steel drums and even antibodies.
According to a report from Forrester Research, business-to-business e-commerce sales in the US are expected to reach $1 trillion by 2020 and this is enough reason for Amazon to make the move. In its announcement on Tuesday, Amazon mentioned a study from Acquity Group, which reported that 68% of business-to-business buyers are purchasing products online, up from 57% in 2013, and that 95% of them do research online prior to buying items for their business.
The move by Amazon will most likely add to the pressure on office supplies giant Staples, which was already struggling with competition from retailers such as Amazon as well as Walmart, Target, Costco and Best Buy. Staples, which sells products both to businesses and to individual consumers, is at present negotiating a $6.3 billion merger with rival Office Depot that is expected to be finalized by the end of this year.
Until May 13, Amazon will continue to operate both Amazon Business and Amazon Supply (online marketplace the company has used since 2012 to sell products to industrial customers) after which Amazon Supply will be closed down. The site will currently serve only US businesses, however, Prentis Wilson; Amazon’s Vice President has hinted that the company might expand operations outside US.
The Amazon Business site is strictly geared toward business purchases. Set up as a multi seller market place, the site will allow buyers to compare prices by viewing various offers from sellers on a single page. Some of the products will carry business-only prices, while some sellers will provide discounts based on the quantity of the products ordered.
Apart from providing a commerce platform, the e-commerce titan will also offer some exclusive deals, like free shipping for two days for orders over $49 or more on thousands of eligible products, tax-exempt purchases, tracking of order, Amazon’s guarantee and many more. The site will also offer some products at a much lower price than shown on its original website. Furthermore, the website does not even charge any registration fee.