Businesses are always looking for ways to edge out the competition, streamline administration and lower overhead costs. In an increasingly high tech economy, it’s no wonder that many businesses have taken strides to cut out the middlemen, allocate multiple responsibilities to individual employees and increase profit margins. The introduction of Amazon Supply seems to be in line with those ambitions, although it’s unlikely that the new branch of the online conglomerate will have a significant impact on industry competition.
What is Amazon Supply?
Amazon Supply is a new branch of the online shopping website that targets business supply purchases. Unlike its traditional website, which has been likened to the Internet’s digital Walmart, Amazon’s newest venture is competing with major supply companies that traditional businesses rely on for day to day commerce. Although the site is still in beta mode (meaning the company is testing its effectiveness in the market), its introduction has signaled an increasingly noticeable shift for the retailer from targeting individual consumers to appealing to business owners and managers.
Amazon Supply seems to sell all types of common business needs. From janitorial and sanitation supplies, to basic office products, like staplers and paper, the company sells more than a half million products on its site. This means that Amazon — a name that normally sends chills down the spines of major retail websites, like eBay — will now be competing with a whole new genre of supply companies.
Who is the competition?
Grainger, for example, is one of the leading industrial suppliers of circuit protection equipment in the world. It currently offers more than 900,000 products to its customers, and its target consumers are busy business owners. The company — which seems like the antithesis of a website that started by selling books — will now be a competitor of Amazon. But chances are good that Grainger won’t have much to worry about.
Although technically, Amazon may have the reputation and name association to expand to the supply business, that doesn’t necessarily mean that business owners will flock to the new Amazon Supply site for industrial supply needs. Even if prices are slightly lower than other major business suppliers, like Grainger, business owners are accustomed to personalized service from customer service representatives who not only remember their business needs, but remember their names too.
Right now, Amazon Supply is attempting to appeal to customer service preferences by offering a 365-day return policy, complimentary two-day shipping on orders over $50, lines of credit, bulk ordering and a dedicated customer support department that is not available to customers of the original Amazon website. However, that doesn’t necessarily please business owners who are used to a more customized experience with many of those same benefits elsewhere.
For example, Grainger Industrial Supply not only operates an online website with dedicated support, it also encourages customers to visit their local Grainger branches. A Grainger catalogue is a must on every site manager’s desk, and many in construction have their favorite product numbers and Grainger’s direct line memorized. Grainger also takes its services further to provide its customers with repair and maintenance solutions for the industrial products it sells.
Nothing to worry about
Although many businesses are scrambling to be at the front of the technological curve, behind the scenes, business owners know that customer service will always be king — and they expect it for themselves. Although some business owners will undoubtedly use Amazon Supply for some basic purchases, the new website is unlikely to have a profound affect on big industry competition.