There was a time when the only option was to drive to your local big box electronics store, home improvement chain, or office supplier to round up these items. But now, to keep things running – and to help you sleep at night – you need a reliable way to purchase office supplies, computers and IT, coffee for the kitchen, and more.
These days, many of us rely on online purchasing for at least some of these purchases. But even shopping online has its pitfalls. How do you compare prices, know what your employees are buying, or track your shipments?
How do you control your spending on the wide-open web?
Amazon solved a lot of similar problems in the consumer space, and now the Seattle-based company is targeting business buyers. Last year, it launched Amazon Business, which it touted as “everything you love about Amazon, for your business.” Now, with more than a year under its belt, is an increasingly compelling procurement option for small businesses.
Amazon Business reported more than $1 billion in sales in its first year and has over 400,000 customers. So, the question is: Should you join them?
If you’re facing the problems I mentioned above – finding the products you need at a great price, having insight into your company’s spend, and tracking your shipments – the answer could be yes.
Most of us know you can find virtually anything on Amazon, and that applies to business supplies, too. On top of that, Amazon Business recently added more than 9 million business-specific items since it was introduced.
Even better: Because Amazon has multiple sellers on many items, price competition is essentially built into your shopping experience. For businesses that face the hassle of dealing with multiple suppliers with different levels of support and varying reliability of delivery, Amazon Business could be a big time-saver.
On top of the core Amazon experience, Amazon Business has some enticing functionality.
One key item: You can get free shipping when you spend $49 or more on eligible products. That’s akin to Amazon’s Prime deal, but you get it for free with Amazon Business (albeit with the $49 qualifier). And if you’re already a Prime member as a consumer, your shipping benefits transfer over to your Amazon Business account (meaning there’s no minimum-purchase requirement).
Amazon says it now has more than 5 million products with prices reserved for business customers, including quantity-price discounts that help even small businesses leverage their buying power.
What I find particularly compelling are the controls included with the account. While Amazon is a pass-around-the-credit-card experience for some small businesses, Amazon Business lets you share a single account. That means your business can use one credit card for multiple employees, with controls on that spending.
You can set spending limits, create approval chains and use a new analytics tool to see how much individuals are spending, and what they’re buying. The nifty analytics feature uses bar charts to show spending levels over time, and by user or group, and even breaks down spending in categories like IT and janitorial.