Amazon Business is About to Explode and Most Brands Aren’t Ready
Article by: John L. Ghiorso
Over the last two years, the Amazon B2B program has quietly grown by a multiple of 10. That’s right—Amazon Business has ballooned from $1 billion to well over $10 billion in sales. What’s even crazier? They’re just getting started.
With Amazon, the “next big thing” isn’t always what’s most obvious. Brands often overlook the programs and initiatives with the biggest upside because they are unaware of Amazon’s internal vision and goals. That’s why many are shocked to discover that Amazon Business shows every indication of becoming massive and presents the best opportunity to brands looking to grow on Amazon, hands-down. That is—if you can get involved before $10 billion becomes $100 billion.
What is Amazon Business?
That’s an okay question to have. After all, the consumer marketplace requires a lot of attention. But there is a whole other market you’re missing out on, and it’s found with Amazon Business.
Amazon Business is the same Amazon platform that we are all accustomed to but with a separate entry and additional business-friendly features and products. It’s like a filter through which companies can easily buy product from other businesses with the same familiar experience that consumers get. Commercial and industrial products traditionally bought through the marketplace include office supplies, industrial equipment, restaurant supplies, and more.
Companies that purchase products with an Amazon Business account enjoy features like discounts on bulk quantities, fast and reliable shipping, tools for managing accounts and tracking spending, and various payment options including requests for quotes. But what makes the Amazon B2B platform so promising isn’t simply its innovative features and tools; it’s the reason behind the marketplace’s massive growth.
Why Does the Amazon B2B Matter?
We’ve already covered the growth Amazon Business saw from $1 billion to $10 billion in sales. This rapid expansion can be attributed to a new generation of shoppers who are accustomed to skipping the retail space and instead making purchases online. Consumer habits are transferring to online B2B marketplaces, meaning those same shoppers are looking for a digital experience when making purchases for their businesses.
According to Amazon, the B2B marketplace serves “millions of business customers,” which includes over half of the Fortune 100, 80 percent of the top 100 enrollment-education organizations, and over half of the 100 biggest hospital systems. Those numbers will continue to grow as Amazon rolls out new tools and promotions targeting different types of businesses.
Through a substantial investment in expanded shipping capabilities, Amazon is providing the mass quantity shipping logistics that the Amazon B2B platform needs to appeal to enterprise customers. With new potential for big orders, the competitive landscape of the marketplace will expand tremendously, and it won’t be long before we see another leap from $10 billion to $100 billion.
That’s why brands need to act now. Amazon’s flywheel is setup to favor listings which have sales momentum and established indicators of success. Getting involved while the competition is still relatively low can mean coming out way ahead of the curve a couple of years down the road.
Who Can Sell on Amazon Business?
Many brands operate under the impression that the Amazon B2B program is only for products traditionally thought of as commercial. That’s where an understanding of Amazon’s vision becomes especially useful. While commercial and industrial products do make up a sizable portion of sales on the marketplace, Amazon expects procurement managers to treat the platform like consumers do—as a one-stop-shop for anything and everything. That means that most products which can be ordered in bulk have a degree of commercial applicability, like large bags of candy or mass bundles of paper towels.
With an expanded understanding of which products can succeed on Amazon Business, it’s up to brands to pull the correct levers and leverage the growing marketplace.
So How Do I Make It Happen?
So you’re ready to get started engaging with the Amazon B2B marketplace. The good news is that the keys to achieving success selling on Amazon Business share some basic characteristics with those on the consumer side of the platform. These fundamentals include:
- Curated Selection: Your brand’s full selection of products should be readily available for purchase on Amazon Business, clearly presented and easy to browse. Many brands will withhold larger quantity items because they seem out of place with consumer products. Now is your chance to onboard those ASINs and others which may have commercial potential on the B2B platform.
- Competitive Pricing: Your products must be competitively priced to stack up against the millions of other retailers selling through Amazon Business. As competition increases, this key to success will only become more imperative.
However, Amazon Business also provides unique opportunities to engage customers in new incremental ways not available through the consumer side. Methods to consider when building a strategy specific to the Amazon Business program include:
- Business Discounts: With Amazon Business, brands have the ability to offer exclusive discounts not available on the retail side of the Amazon platform, serving as an additional call-to-action for shoppers. There are two frameworks for discounts:
- Quantity Discounts: These are tiered discounts, based on the number of products a customer buys. For example, purchasing up to 10 items may give buyers a 5% discount, while buying 10 to 20 items unlocks a 10% discount.
- Per-unit Discounts: In this framework, every unit bought through Amazon Business is discounted incrementally, based on the total purchase volume. An example of this would be giving a 2% discount off every item purchased.
- Compelling Content: Your images, descriptions and product reviews should be high-quality, descriptive and robust to help potential buyers make an informed decision. They should also be optimized for search by including intentional use of keywords. Commercial potential should be at the forefront to the business customer through use of images and copy that communicate commercial value. Moreover, be sure to include both basic and enhanced content; this will capture both busy shoppers who want to quickly “add to cart,” as well as those looking to do their homework.
- Hyper-Targeted Advertising: Any complete Amazon strategy takes advantage of the advertising tools that Amazon makes available for use. Brands developing an Amazon Business strategy will soon get access to these tools in a separate channel, allowing for hyper-targeted advertising which can put your commercially-inclined products in front procurement managers from a selection of companies sizes, from mom-and-pop shops to large enterprises.
- Additional Features: To ensure that Amazon Business continues on as the fastest growing online B2B marketplace, Amazon is developing enhanced features for brands and consumers.
- Diversity Credentials: When brands or sellers list their products using Amazon Business, they will soon have the ability to designate certain credentials, such as minority-owned, woman-owned, eco-friendly, US-manufactured, and so on. Customers of Amazon Business will then be able to filter product search using these credentials, allowing them to meet requirements of purchasing often held by government organizations, universities, non-profits, and others.
- Product Documentation: Recognizing the depth of product information typically accompanying commercial products, Amazon will soon provide capability to brands using Amazon Business to upload product documentation (like manuals and installation materials) to product detail pages.
Using these methods and features, brands who recognize the potential of Amazon Business will be able to establish success before the first-mover advantages dissolve. There’s no telling how long the Amazon B2B platform will remain under the radar. But judging by the marketplace’s increased attention from Amazon, it won’t be much longer.
Optimizing your business to achieve success on the Amazon B2B platform is no easy task. That’s why we’ve made it our project to learn the in’s and out’s of Amazon Business, so we may help brands take advantage of what’s available. Reach out to our team today to learn more about how your business can get involved.