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Amazon Business wants to improve B2B e-commerce journey

Unit focused on differentiated buying journey of large enterprises

Like others, Amazon sees a large opportunity in business-to-business e-commerce, and it is positioning its Amazon Business unit to take advantage. (Photo: Shutterstock)

E-commerce burst onto the scene in the consumer space, but as the younger generations that grew up with Amazon have moved into business leadership positions, they have taken those same online expectations into the workplace.

Unfortunately, many online sites are still trying to figure out the business-to-business e-commerce experience.

According to a recent DigitalCommerce 360 survey of manufacturers, B2B e-commerce is falling woefully short of expectations. The survey found 58% of B2B manufacturing e-commerce sites employed an architecture that required three or more clicks to land on a product detail page. Eighty-six percent of websites lacked upsell, cross-sell and add-on features, and only 13% had guided selling interactions designed to help buyers navigate their purchase journey.

The results were not much better when the publication asked about pricing transparency. Three-quarters of respondents said manufacturing e-commerce sites didn’t offer pricing, and 81% said it was not easy to make a purchase through a manufacturer’s website.

Businesses embrace e-commerce

A PwC survey released in May 2021 reported businesses are starting to embrace e-commerce. The survey found 66% of businesses said implementing digital marketing and sales over the next two years is a business priority and 40% called it a top business challenge.

While e-commerce sellers have made strides to improve the B2B experience, plenty of work remains. A 2021 white paper from DHL Express said that by 2025, 80% of all B2B interactions between suppliers and buyers will take place in digital channels. The company cited the introduction of tech-savvy millennials into the workforce and the rapid acceleration of digital trends because of the COVID-19 pandemic that forced large segments of the global labor pool to shift to remote work.

The trends in the business-to-consumer marketplace have spilled over to the B2B segment, DHL said, noting that global B2B e-commerce revenue had surpassed $12.2 trillion in 2020 — more than the B2C market — with predictions it would grow to $20.9 trillion by 2027.

“What is predicted for the future of the B2B sector has already been visible in the significant B2C e-commerce rise over the last years, where DHL Express experienced high growth rates particularly during the holiday peak seasons (e.g., Easter, Christmas) and mega-shopping days (e.g., Black Friday, Cyber Monday),” the report said.

Amazon’s B2B focus

As businesses look for easier paths to online purchasing, it is not a surprise that Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN) is hoping to lead the way.

In 2015, Amazon formed Amazon Business, a division specifically focused on the differentiated buying journey of large enterprises. The unit now serves more than five million businesses worldwide and facilitates more than $25 billion in worldwide annualized sales, more than half of which come from third-party sellers. 

While many business leaders today are looking for similar e-commerce experiences as they get in their personal lives, the idea of an Amazon delivery van pulling up to their loading dock to deliver 1,000 computer monitors is just not feasible. Large enterprises have different demands — such as volume discounts, short- or long-term contracts, or delivery to multiple locations — and Amazon Business meets those needs.

“There are customers that like the direct access — the familiar look and feel from, and many others that prefer our seamless integration into their procurement systems,” Chris Costello, executive vice president of U.S. strategic sales for Amazon Business, told FreightWaves.

Costello noted that Amazon has integration capabilities that allow businesses to connect directly with Amazon’s platform and take advantage of security and control features, as well as guided buying capabilities. The integration enables the business to use the same software it is already using on a daily basis, eliminating costly installation and potential integration problems.

Trend reporting

Amazon Business is able to identify buying trends by location, which can help a large enterprise reduce costs from duplicate buying. Buying based on sustainability goals or from veteran-owned businesses are among the options that enterprises can take advantage of when using Amazon Business.

Amazon is also introducing value-add services for large enterprises, including office supply restocking, snack and vending machine resupply services, and even desk-side capabilities.

Amazon is hosting its first in-person business event in September. Amazon Business Reshape is scheduled for Sept. 28-29 at the Hyatt Regency in Scottsdale, Arizona. Designed for large enterprises, the event will feature strategies and innovative ideas to help businesses improve their e-commerce experience as well as achieve environmental, social and governance goals.

The event will feature general sessions, panels, roundtables, product sessions and breakout sessions for attendees.

Click for more articles by Brian Straight.

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Brian Straight

Brian Straight leads FreightWaves' Modern Shipper brand as Managing Editor. A journalism graduate of the University of Rhode Island, he has covered everything from a presidential election, to professional sports and Little League baseball, and for more than 10 years has covered trucking and logistics. Before joining FreightWaves, he was previously responsible for the editorial quality and production of Fleet Owner magazine and Brian lives in Connecticut with his wife and two kids and spends his time coaching his son’s baseball team, golfing with his daughter, and pursuing his never-ending quest to become a professional bowler. You can reach him at [email protected]