Amazon Business Prime Is Updated to Improve Its E-Procurement Solution

Amazon Business

Amazon announced Tuesday a range of new capabilities added to Amazon Business Prime. The additions blur the line between extending the marketplace distribution aspects of the solution (e.g., same day, next day or two day fulfillment) and driving enhanced e-procurement, payment and marketplace technology components.

Spend Matters believes that this release represents the most important set of enhancements to Amazon Business since the launch of the offering.

Get the full analysis and recommendations for procurement organizations on Amazon Business' new offering: Read our related brief on Spend Matters PRO

Prior to the announcement, the Amazon team briefed Spend Matters on the news and provided a solution demonstration of some of the new components. Our take: Amazon Business Prime is not a replacement for the likes of Coupa or SAP Ariba in the upper-middle market or large enterprise customer segment for procure-to-pay, nor was it ever meant to be. But the solution is increasingly morphing into what could become a primary procurement portal for small- and middle-market customers while still offering targeted value for larger organizations — in addition to serving in its role as a business-to-business marketplace and business products distributor.

Context

In the consumer market, Amazon continues to make Prime more attractive in ways that drive an industry-high renewal rate — over 90% — compared with Costco and others, according to Bloomberg. By adding an increasingly large streaming video library (a material portion of it free) for Prime members, discounts at Whole Foods and what seem to be increasing options for same or next day delivery, Prime increasingly is delivering perceived and measurable value to consumers, or at least a subset of consumers.

Some might call this the Amazon “stickiness” factor. Now the online giant is expanding its fly paper into the B2B domain — sheets that procurement organizations are perhaps less likely to “rip out” than consumers, we’d argue. Competitive MRO providers, industrial distributors, office products and IT providers should pay close attention to how Amazon is creating an ecosystem of value for Business Prime members.

A Pivotal Release

The latest release includes a range of new capabilities that will initially support domestic (U.S.) customers. These features include added components focused on spend visibility, e-procurement (guided buying) policy and workflow, payment capabilities (including rebate and working capital solutions) and increasingly attractive shipping options.

Below, we feature a brief explanation of the capabilities from the announcement:

  • Spend Visibility: Powered by AWS QuickSight, Amazon’s “Spend Visibility” provides advanced visualizations of company spend with out-of-the-box reporting and graphics — based on spend flowing through Amazon Business. Other buying activity is not yet captured.
  • Guided Buying: Guided buying enables Amazon Business account administrators to identify certain suppliers and products as preferred, as well as set specific product categories as "restricted," offering buyers greater insight into company policies or recommendations and guiding users to preferred vendors, items and pricing.
  • Amazon Business Prime American Express Card: The no annual fee credit card offers flexible benefits, including the choice of 5% back or 90-day interest free payment terms for Business Prime members on United States purchases at Amazon Business, Amazon.com, Whole Foods Market and even Amazon Web Services. The AWS option seems enticing for a 5% rewards credit, but the program agreement says when using the points, “minimum and maximum amounts may apply. We’ll let you know about any minimum or maximum amounts, as well as any additional terms and conditions, before you use points.” And the entire program terms can be changed at any time.
  • Extended Terms for Pay by Invoice: Business Prime members can now request extended terms for payment based on invoices. Qualifying customers can extend their payment terms to 45 or 60 days, depending on their plan, based on single or consolidated invoices provided by Amazon.
  • Upgraded Shipping Options: Business Prime members already receive free two-day shipping. Now, Business Prime members in the United States have the option of free same-day delivery or free one-day shipping on eligible orders over $35 in more than 8,000 cities and towns. Members also have the option to select consolidated shipping for eligible bulk orders (to minimize shipments).

To receive these benefits, an Amazon Business customer needs to enroll in Prime. The annual membership is based on the number of users on their business account: (Essentials) $179/year for up to 3 users, (Small) $499/year for up to 10 users, (Medium) $1,299/year for up to 100 users and (Enterprise) $10,099/year for over 100 users.

This announcement is generally good news for procurement and finance organizations, but there are some nuances to this program related to trade financing, flexibility to use other solution providers, and the effect of incentives of overall spend that also should be considered. For more details about the new offering and what it means for Amazon Business customers and prospects, check out our recent Spend Matters PRO analysis.

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