What kind of company is Amazon? How does Amazon Business work? Amazon.com, Inc is an American multinational technology company focusing on e-commerce, cloud computing, online advertising, digital streaming, and artificial intelligence. It has been often referred to as “one of the most influential economic and cultural forces in the world”, and is often regarded as one of the world’s most valuable brands. It is considered to be one of the Big Five American technology companies, alongside Alphabet (parent company of Google), Apple, Meta and Microsoft.
Amazon was founded by Jeff Bezos from his garage in Bellevue, Washington, on July 5, 1994. Initially an online marketplace for books, it has expanded into a multitude of product categories, a strategy that has earned it the moniker The Everything Store. It has multiple subsidiaries including Amazon Web Services (cloud computing), Zoox (autonomous vehicles), Kuiper Systems (satellite Internet), and Amazon Lab126 (computer hardware R&D). Its other subsidiaries include Ring, Twitch, IMDb, and Whole Foods Market. Its acquisition of Whole Foods in August 2017 for US$13.4 billion substantially increased its footprint as a physical retailer.
What kind of company is Amazon?
Amazon spent the last 25 years building Amazon.com. It now serves over 300 million active customers a wide selection of goods at competitive prices. You may be one of them.
But different customers have different needs.
Amazon has long known that businesses and organizations were shopping for office supplies and other goods in bulk on its store. To better serve them, the company launched Amazon Business in 2015.
“Everything we do at Amazon starts with the customer, and we kept asking ourselves, ‘How can we better serve those business customers?’” said 20-year Amazon veteran Alexandre Gagnon, vice president of Worldwide Amazon Business. “The procurement space is ready for innovation. We have leveraged the size, expertise, technology, and infrastructure we have built at Amazon, and adapted it for businesses and organizations of all sizes.”
Amazon Business has since become one of the fastest-growing ventures in Amazon’s history. It reached $35 billion in annualized sales in 2023.
“I’ve been excited about Amazon Business since the day it launched,” said Doug Herrington, CEO of Amazon Worldwide Stores. “The Amazon Business team is committed to long-term success of their business and its customers. Day in and day out, we dig into the specific purchasing needs of businesses and organizations and come up with innovative ways to deliver great prices, extensive selection, and consistent, reliable convenience. Businesses and organizations need different tools and features for their purchasing, and Amazon Business has built those tools. But we know that’s not enough, and we’ll keep iterating to make the customer experience even better.”
More than 6 million customers are now buying on Amazon Business. This includes small and medium-sized companies like the family-owned Red River Brewing Company in New Mexico, as well as large companies and institutions. Ninety-six Fortune 100 companies use Amazon Business, including Intel and Citi, as well as organizations like Johns Hopkins University, Seattle Children’s Hospital, and the United Service Organizations, and U.S. governmental entities, including the state of Utah and the U.S. Air Force.
“Amazon Business is constantly innovating on behalf of its customers—working on solutions and integrations that make procurement more efficient, reducing overhead and manual processes,” Gagnon said. “Amazon Business supports integrations with Coupa and over 100 other procurement, payments, and ERP systems. We also support purchasing directly on Amazon.com for organizations that do not rely on an e-procurement system.”
Despite the progress and growth of Amazon Business, the energy inside makes it feel like a startup with a lot of room to expand further. Amazon Business director Todd Heimes said there are millions of small businesses around the world, and they spend trillions every year on supplies and procurement.
“We are just getting started,” Heimes said.
Here are some answers to frequently asked questions about Amazon Business.
Who can open an Amazon Business account?
Businesses and organizations of all sizes—a local hair salon, global corporations, schools, non-profits, hospitals, and government agencies—can open an Amazon Business account. The account is free, and there’s no spending minimum.
How does Amazon Business work?
Amazon Business gives organizations of all sizes the ability to buy from a large selection of hundreds of millions of items directly from the Amazon Business store, which has the same easy-to-use and intuitive interface as Amazon.com.
“One of the best things we have as a tailwind for Amazon Business is all of the work we’ve done for the last 25 years for consumers on Amazon,” Heimes said. “We’ve got a catalog with a wide selection, a world-class fulfillment capability, and a great customer experience that you’re used to. It’s easy to use with no training necessary. The search experience, the reviews, the shopping cart, and other popular features are all the same, and on top of that we’ve built business-specific features that allow companies of all sizes to integrate their procurement policies into the buying process.”
Does Amazon Business have a Prime membership program?
Yes. Business Prime is a popular membership similar to Amazon Prime but with business specific benefits tailored to business buyers. It provides benefits like free shipping on eligible items, deals, and other features like Guided Buying and Spend Visibility. The Business Prime membership includes benefits and pricing* plans tailored for various business sizes.
How do customers use Amazon Business?
Angagaw said Amazon Business helps large and small customers leverage what they’re doing today in the area of spend. But Amazon Business can also help them source products with sustainability certification or goods sold by local, diverse, and other businesses.
“We are really giving customers control and visibility of these purchases and knowing where they spend their money,” she said. “If you’re a teacher and you want to be able to buy specific books or tools for your class, you no longer have to go through a series of people in the process. You can go to the Amazon Business store, and you will be able to purchase what you need for your students. Utilizing the set budget that is designed for you, you can actually spend it over a semester or a year or a month—however you want to manage it.”
These benefits also translate to tangible savings. “We make it really easy for them to procure at competitive prices and save money that can be then reinvested,” Gagnon said.
How do small businesses benefit from shopping on Amazon Business?
Amazon Business is a B2B store with hundreds of thousands of sellers competing to offer a wide selection of products at competitive prices with the convenient delivery experience you are used to from Amazon.
A person’s hands hold an iPhone with a product page pulled up with the “Buy with Prime” blue button as an option. Amazon’s Buy with Prime increases shopper conversion by 25% on average
No longer invitation only: Buy with Prime will be widely available to more U.S.-based merchants by January 31, 2023.
“It offers small businesses and organizations the opportunity to reduce costs and improve their efficiencies, so that they can focus on running their business,” said Heimes. “All of the conveniences we take for granted as consumers now are available to business customers.”
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