Amazon Business comes to the EU
Florian Boehme, Senior Manager Amazon Business Germany, talks about the new service for business customers.
Mr. Boehme, you are entering a new area with Business to Business. Are you happy?
Absolutely, and I’m looking forward to it! The service already started in the US in 2015, over 400,000 businesses are using the numerous functions – to buy from Amazon and more than 45,000 additional sellers. Now we also want to help companies in Germany to save time and money. This includes paying by invoice, free premium shipping starting from orders of 29 Euro, VAT exclusive price display and invoicing, multi-user accounts, the opportunity to reflect internal approval workflows as well as reporting and analytics – all of this is added to the advantages customers love from Amazon.
What is the reason for these new functions – business clients already shop at Amazon, don’t they?
Because our philosophy has remained the same: We think backwards from our customer, how we can make their life easier. That’s why business customers benefit from new tailor-made functions and everything else that already defines Amazon for private customers: attractive prices, great selection, uncomplicated shopping, comprehensive product information and fast delivery.
Sounds good, how does it work?
Take for example a small construction company: They buy pens, paper, and rulers in one store, screens, computers, and cables in a second and bricks, mortar, and trowels in a third one. That takes time and manpower – a pain for every businessman. With Amazon Business, customers may order from three different sellers, but it's a familiar and easy process, they know it from their private shopping experience at Amazon.
You talked about tailor-made functions. But an IT-startup has completely different demands than, say, a hospital.
Of course! Let´s take the hospital as an example: Very often hospitals are big, personnel-intensive organizations, with different departments and responsibilities. Often, various occupational groups are working together, that makes clear processes particularly important. Who should order what and with which budget, for example. With Amazon Business, the purchasing director can share the company’s account and use internal approval processes for different departments and functions. All hospital wards can access the account, each one assigned with a limit which defines who is authorized to purchase what and how much. Therefore, the wards don´t have to go through the whole hierarchy, while the purchasing department still retains the overview.
And what about the small startup? They don't usually have purchasing directors.
True, especially if a company is newly established. Often, the entrepreneur is responsible for the purchasing process or asks someone else to do it, who normally is less involved in purchase management. Startups order a chair here, a keyboard there. To keep an overview of the expenses, it makes sense to set up a company-account. For startups, it is also important that we display VAT-exclusive prices, but issue invoices including VAT. In this way, we give them the possibility to compare between products, without having to calculate the prices by themselves every single time. Especially for startups this is a major relief, if they can truly rely on such a service and don't have to care about VAT displays or gross- and net-prices. Of course, that doesn't only apply to startups, but for freelancers and small enterprises as well.
An important topic for large enterprises is the assignment of shipments, how does that work at Amazon Business?
Customers can easily assign PO-numbers to the orders. The payment can then be done from the central Amazon Business account. As business customers are used to, the orders are usually paid by credit card, direct debit, or through invoice with 30-day terms.
Amazon is growing in Germany. You open new fulfillment centers, for example in Dortmund recently, and you're recruiting new employees. What does the new "Amazon Business" mean for sellers?
We pave the way for sellers to head towards success. With Amazon Business we provide an open infrastructure that others can use. Let's take Baustoffshop as an example. They have 200 sites in Germany and sell especially heavy building materials: from plasterboards on pallet to truckloads of bricks. It's a service where third party sellers are close partners, the same as they are for our B2C business. We enable them to reach a greater number of business customers online, without the otherwise considerable logistical, administrative, and marketing-related efforts. These obstacles can be avoided by operating on our infrastructure.
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