With growth of B2B ecommerce projected to increase to $1.2 trillion by 2021, B2B suppliers must adapt quickly to capture this growing revenue stream. Three years ago, Amazon launched a B2B marketplace to claim a slice of the rapidly increasing need for B2B ecommerce. So far, Amazon Business has largely focused on supplying businesses with the variable goods that are needed but may not have regular suppliers or predictable budget lines attached. Providing a convenient way for businesses to order items like printer paper, bottled water, paper towels, break room supplies and IT cables on demand, has given the etail giant a glimpse at the wants and needs of business buyers. It’s clear that the B2B market is just as responsive to broad selection, robust product pages, and convenient online experience as consumers.
Amazon Business provides suppliers the ability to access over 85,000 sellers with hundreds of millions of products for the business buyer. The marketplace places sells all types of products from industrial supplies to lab and medical equipment. Amazon ease of use and familiarity for consumers makes it easy transition for buyers to look to -- in Q1 2017 40% of B2B buyers finished their purchases on Amazon for their businesses. CEO Jeff Bezos has made it clear Amazon Business is a priority as they look continue to expand, and see it as direct competition with Grainger and Staples.
As your brand develops a roadmap to B2B ecommerce success, Amazon Business could play an important role in your strategy. Whether you are a supplier selling through distributors or directly to buyers, you have already been impacted by the changing consumer demands. Amazon Business is tackling these concerns head on. Here’s what you can learn from the Amazon approach.
There is rapid growth available to anyone who can move quickly in B2B ecommerce
Amazon Business has seen tremendous growth over the last 2 years: It tripled its customer base from 2016-2017 and saw a 54% increase in the number of sellers during the same period. Amazon has 310 million active users and as the ecommerce giant focuses efforts on Amazon Business, the percentage of users who will need a marketplace for their B2B purchases, it will only strengthen their trust in the platform.
A quality experience will win the sale from B2B buyers
For B2B buyers who are used to the shopping experience of Amazon, looking to it for business purchases is a natural move. Buyers expect the same seamless self-service of their consumer experiences available to them when they make purchasing decisions for their businesses. A recent survey from Forrester reported that B2B buyers want to self-educate versus talk to a sales representative to learn about products and services. Amazon noticed businesses were using their B2C marketplace site to purchase products like office supplies and IT equipment, and wanted to build a platform that met the needs of that audience.
Amazon Business provides B2B buyers the experience of self education and selection within platform they are accustomed in their consumer life. As Amazon Business grows it’s capabilities and products, it will continue to innovate on customer experience and B2B brands should be opening up their products for distribution on this channel.
Buyers demand support for complex B2B transactions
One of the biggest roadblocks for B2B suppliers to adopt ecommerce is the complexity of B2B purchases--discounts, bulk packaging, invoicing, size variations-- the list goes on. Amazon Business recognized this and developed their marketplace to tackle these concerns. Sellers can restrict offers to businesses that are deemed Amazon Verified Business Customers, and you are able to configure product selection and offers as is done in a traditional sales channel. If your company needs help with logistics or fulfillment, Amazon Business can be partnered with to assist in that and will provide analytics and ‘business-only’ customer support.
Amazon Business is a critical part of any B2B supplier’s toolkit for increasing revenue, growing market share and finding new customers. It has been developed to mimic B2C experiences while tackling the challenges and complexities of the B2B purchase. In addition, there are lessons within the business model for any supplier looking to sell directly to a business buyer online: provide a easy-to-use, compelling online experience that supports complex purchases and you too can capitalize on the shift in purchasing behavior.