Amazon Business and Business Prime Launch in Canada - A New Way for Canadian Businesses to Procure

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It began as a humble online bookstore way back in 1994 - but now, Amazon seems to be taking over the world. As the third largest company on the planet, Amazon has proven to be successful in a number of expansions thus far. Currently, the three main pillars of the company are Amazon Marketplace (a consumer-facing ecommerce platform), Amazon Prime (a $119-per-year membership service), and Amazon Web Services (which offers cloud computing solutions). However, over recent years, Amazon has been hard at work building the company's fourth pillar - Amazon Business - which is now live in nine countries following an announcement at the end of October that it has opened in Canada.

Amazon Business

Amazon Business is a B2B procurement platform, first launched in April 2015. Amazon describes the platform as "Everything you love about Amazon, for your business." It promises to provide businesses with "easy access to hundreds of millions of products - everything from IT and lab equipment to education and food service supplies - as well as business-only selection and pricing." Amazon Business Prime customers can also count on "free two-day shipping on tens of millions of eligible items, multi-user business accounts, approval workflow, payment solutions, tax exemptions, dedicated customer support, and much more."

By making it easier for businesses to purchase products from one another, Amazon Business aims to correct some of the prevailing inefficiencies in the B2B procurement space. For example, before a business makes a purchase, numerous assessments, checklists and approvals must be finalized. Even then, the work isn't over - once a supplier is chosen, negotiations then need to take place. This process is often long and tedious, forestalling the contract's completion and order fulfillment.

To simplify the purchasing process, Amazon Business offers a suite of procurement services to every type of business organization, allowing business customers to quickly discover offers, pricing, and quantity discounts, as well as tax exemptions for qualifying purchases.

"We're very excited to empower Canadian business customers to simplify their procurement process so they can focus on what's most important to them," said Vice President at Amazon Canada, Alexandre Gagnon. "Whether for hospitals, educational institutions, large organizations, government agencies, non-profits, restaurants, research facilities or sole proprietors, Amazon Business is designed to meet unique and complex procurement needs in an experience familiar to anyone who looks to Amazon to find sharp pricing, broad selection, and convenient delivery."

Business Prime

Alongside Amazon Business, Amazon has also launched its Business Prime annual membership program for Canadian customers who want fast, free delivery for all users on their business account, in addition to other benefits that provide convenience, value, analytics and control in the procurement experience. These include "Guided Buying" - a feature that allows account administrators to identify certain suppliers and products as "preferred", as well as set specific product categories as "restricted", giving purchasers greater insight into company policies or recommendations. The tool helps businesses reduce rogue spend, improve compliance with internal policies, and consolidate suppliers, Amazon says.

Another Business Prime benefit is the "Spend Visibility" feature, which provides advanced visualizations of company spend in ready-to-present graphics. Amazon says that this frees up the time it takes to download and analyze data in order to discover spending trends.

Final Thoughts

In effect, the launch of Amazon Business and Business Prime in Canada opens the market far beyond the Canadian border, as Amazon selling partners have the opportunity to grow sales by reaching millions of business customers worldwide. This is especially true for Business Prime selling partners, who can do things like offer their customers quantity discounts, including tiered discount levels depending on purchase amounts. Tax calculation and tax invoicing are also provided, as are "Business Reports", which offer sellers the ability to understand and manage business activities via "sales snapshots".

Amazon Business Prime will likely be good news for businesses in Canada seeking value-priced products that are delivered quickly - as well as for third-party sellers who will also see a boost as a global market becomes reality. And for some - such as mining and manufacturing company 3M Canada - the platform presents an exciting opportunity as both a seller and a buyer.

"As a creator of some of the world's most iconic brands, we will use Amazon Business to complement our existing distribution model and reach a broader range of business customers," said Lisa Citton-Battel, Director, Consumer Business Group and Corporate Affairs at 3M Canada. "And for our own procurement, we look forward to a more streamlined approach to identifying, approving and tracking delivery of the products our teams need both in the office and in our manufacturing plants."

Online procurement platforms are set to be a hot topic at ProcureCon Canada 2020, taking place in May at the Marriott Toronto, CF Eaton Centre, ON, where you can also hear 3M Canada's Sourcing Manager Jeff Van Geel speak.

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