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For some B2B sellers, the question is: Amazon.com or AmazonSupply.com?

April 6, 2015 01:10 PM
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When companies talk about competition from major online sellers, business-to-business companies usually buzz about AmazonSupply.com, retailers about Amazon.com. Yet both sites play in the B2B space, though differently.

Many large B2B sellers sell on both Amazon.com and AmazonSupply.com, says Mike Shapaker, vice president of brands and manufacturers at ChannelAdvisor Corp., a company that helps brand manufacturers and retailers sell through e-marketplaces operated by Amazon, eBay Inc. and other organizations.

Because Amazon may only want to purchase some of a manufacturer’s or distributor’s products to sell itself, ChannelAdvisor will work with sellers to figure how those companies can sell other products through the Amazon marketplaces. “A lot of branded manufacturers ask us to help them solve an interesting problem,” Shapaker says. “If they have 1,000 products to sell and Amazon only wants to buy 200 to sell on AmazonSupply, the manufacturer or distributor wants to try to sell the other 800” as a third-party seller on the Amazon Marketplace. “So we work out a hybrid mode; they can still get a fair number of those 800 products sold in the business and industrial section of Amazon.com.”

On Amazon.com, Amazon may buy their products from manufacturers and distributors at wholesale and sell them itself as the seller of record through the e-commerce site’s Business/Industrial/Scientific category. But Amazon will also let companies set up their own listings in that category on Amazon.com as third-party sellers of record.

AmazonSupply.com, though it lists more than 2.25 million products, only features products that Amazon has acquired from other companies and for which it is the seller of record.

AmazonSupply.com is geared more for companies—buyers as well as sellers—that need more transaction services, including the option to process orders via purchase order and an Amazon.com Corporate Credit Line. By initiating an order with a purchase order, the buyer can use the purchase order number to track the payment records for particular products. An Amazon.com Corporate Credit Line can be used as a revolving line of credit at 12.99% annual interest, or as a no-interest payment option with complete payments made within 55 days.

AmazonSupply also imposes restrictions that do not apply to B2B buyers and sellers on Amazon.com. For example, buyers on AmazonSupply cannot use Amazon.com’s 1-click ordering feature, which enables registered customers to click once on a “Buy now with 1-Click” button on a product page to have the order automatically charged to their preselected payment method and shipped to the address listed in a customer’s account. They also cannot use Amazon.com Store Cards or Amazon gift cards to make payments.

Buyers on both sites, however, can use a “purchase delegation” system to delegate up to 300 authorized buyers for each account of an authorized payer—the person at the customer authorized to approve purchases. Each buyer, in turn, can make purchases for up to 30 authorized payers.

Buying and selling in the B2B section of Amazon.com can also lead to increased activity on AmazonSupply, says Scot Wingo, CEO of ChannelAdvisor. If Amazon notices that a large company is purchasing a lot of products on Amazon.com within a particular category, such as maintenance supplies, it will often approach that buying organization to see if wants to benefit from the wider range purchasing control features on AmazonSupply.com.

In some cases, he adds, Amazon and third-party marketplace B2B sellers on Amazon.com will observe how well certain products or categories are selling on that site, then decide whether to also list them on AmazonSupply.

The policies created for AmazonSupply are designed for corporate procurement programs that control how a company’s buyers place orders and manage spending limits. “There’s a team there in AmazonSupply focused on how to get big business to add AmazonSupply to their procurement systems,” Wingo says.

That, of course, presents more opportunities for buyers and the manufacturers and distributors that sell though AmazonSupply, but it also raises the stakes for other e-marketplaces and e-commerce sites. “The driver here is the price,” Wingo says. Amazon’s expectation, he adds, is that buyers will view on AmazonSupply prices lower than typically found through approved vendors in a buyer’s procurement software program. And if buyers are also members of the AmazonPrime free-shipping program, that will exert further pressure on sellers operating outside of Amazon’s sites to cut prices.

Sign up for a free subscription to B2BecNews, a weekly newsletter that covers technology and business trends in the growing B2B e-commerce industry. B2BecNews is published by Vertical Web Media LLC, which also publishes the monthly trade magazine Internet Retailer. Follow B2BecNews editor Paul Demery on Twitter @pdemery.

 

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