Amazon Business describes future where everything from computers to crockery is available in one place

Nikhil Amin, head of Amazon Business UK (Market Place)

Amazon Business’ most senior executive in the UK has described a scenario where restaurant chains are able to procure all of their business requirements – from computers and stationery to crockery and kitchenware – simply by logging into its online ‘market place’.  

The ecommerce giant views B2B sales as a “growing opportunity”, according to Nikhil Amin, head of Amazon Business UK (Market Place), who revealed that it already has more than 100,000 customers signed up to the platform.

Its customers are spread across a wide variety of industries, but the instalment of a UK foodservice team last year signals its intentions to ramp up the level of catering products available to buyers.

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Speaking at Hotelympia, Mr Amin described Amazon Business as a “one-stop destination for business procurement”.

He said: “Let’s imagine you are a chain of restaurants based across the UK. You might use Amazon Business to procure your paper, ink cartridges and stationery for your back office functions. You may decide to purchase cutlery and crockery replacement on Amazon Business, you might decide that you want to purchase tableware, linen, even up to furniture. You might say, ‘well, actually there’s an interesting selection so I might purchase furniture for my restaurant’. What we do is cater for businesses and we have created a platform where businesses can come and procure on our site in one convenient place, and the selection is across a broad range of categories.”

Amazon Business is looking to increase the number of sellers that work with it in order to give buyers access to a huge range of products. “Just as B2C is really exciting for us, we know that B2B is a growing opportunity,” he said.

During a presentation at Hotelympia, Mr Amin cited statistics from Frost & Sullivan that suggest the global B2B ecommerce market will be worth $6.7 trillion (£4.8 trillion) in two years’ time versus B2C sales of $3.2 trillion (£2.3 trillion). Forrester research, meanwhile, highlighted that 93% of business customers prefer to buy online when they’ve decided what to buy, he said.

“By 2020 the B2B ecommerce market is going to be double that of B2C and that is a really interesting prospect for anyone who’s in the B2B space, looking to talk to B2B customers. I think this is really exciting and for us as Amazon we wanted to be a part of it and this is one of the reasons we started off on this journey.”

He continued: “There is a moving trend towards online purchasing and that is shown in how customers come to market-based sites or directly to manufacturers or sellers to shop online, especially for repeat purchases where they are fully aware of what they are buying, they know what they are looking for, and they are just looking for the best price and convenience. They will go and search that and they will do that online, more so than offline. This is why we started Amazon Business.”

Amazon Business first launched in the US three years ago and has grown to $1 billion (£724m) in revenue and more than a million active customers. In the UK it has just over 100,000 business customers and 150,000 in Germany. In the past year it has also launched in Japan, India and France.

Mr Amin said that registration for business buyers was free and the interface it has created for purchasing is designed to be similar to the enterprise solutions that many buyers are likely to be using already. “If you’re used to using procurement solutions then actually Amazon Business is kind of like a mini interface in that respect,” he commented.

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Andrew Seymour

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