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Shop as if a Procurement Professional is Sitting Next to You

If you google “empower your employees,” the most common themes discussed in numerous well-credited articles are “listen” to your employees and let them “guide” you. Guidance is exactly what millions of employees provided their organizations when they started buying at, which was convenient and familiar. Organizations also demanded functionality for their business needs, like consolidated shipping, discount prices on bulk quantities and business payment terms, and thus, Amazon Business was born.

In 2016, Amazon Business began building a beta feature to allow individual organizations to augment the entire buying experience based on their specific procurement and spend compliance needs. During our development process, procurement managers told us that they needed a solution that would make an employee shop as if “a procurement professional was sitting right next to them,” whereby both the employee and pro would learn from each other during that buying journey. This was at the heart of the beta’s purpose — to leverage technology to give both roles a continuous feedback loop to enable purchasing convenience with scalable guidance. The new feature needed to be customizable and powered by the procurement intelligence of their organization. In October 2018, the beta ended and “Guided Buying” was publicly launched as an Amazon Business Prime benefit, with benefits varying by plan.

Guided Buying enables a procurement department to define policies that will augment the entire Amazon Business site. The search experience, the product pages and even our machine learning algorithms adapt dynamically based on organization-specific procurement policies. This empowers buyers to purchase quickly with the confidence that strategic sourcing and selection are not sacrificed.

When setting out to use Guided Buying policies for your entire organization, two decision themes can shape your approach —  standardizing spend and mitigating risk.

  1. Standardize your spend: Analyze your existing spend both within Amazon Business and outside. Formalize the list of items for which you want to standardize selection for your end-users and identify the products that meet your needs. Consider any strict specification standards that require exact item selection. Add those specific items to the list, knowing that you can still keep the remainder of those sub-categories restricted.
  2. Mitigate risk: With your category managers, discuss and align on which categories need an additional warning or approval workflow, such that your end-users are aware of the organizational policies attached to these categories. Additionally, plan what custom message you would like to convey to your end-users within a warning message for a specific sub-category. Should they select a different seller? Turn to a different contracted supplier? Avoid the purchase entirely? This custom message helps propagate informed purchases thereafter and can be set up for each policy.

Here is how you will set these up within your Amazon Business account.

  1. Navigate to Guided Buying within Business Settings as shown, click on Preferred Products and start adding these items as preferred. Reach out to your Amazon Customer Advisor if you have more than 50 items in your list. We can help set it up for you.
  2. Within the Guided Buying menu, click on Add Restricted Policies, then choose the category or sub-category that fits your need and add custom messaging. Save the policy.

Note: All Guided Buying policies are set up at a user group level. This enables administrators to set different controls on different user groups, further scaling the “professional guide” precision.

As an end-user, here is how Guided Buying acts as a procurement partner “sitting next to them.” A pro would monitor purchase selections, and warn the end-user of why a specific category is Restricted, then educate them about the approved alternative(s). The pro would also help them shortcut to the approved items to speed the purchasing task and improve selection accuracy.

This is how it appears within Amazon Business.

  1. When an end-user enters a search query, if a preferred item from your list is relevant to that query, one or more of those relevant preferred items show up labelled “Company Preferred” for quick and accurate selection.
  2. Any item in a Restricted category or sub-category will show a Restricted icon throughout the Amazon Business website. If an end-user clicks on a restricted item, they see a page-wide Restricted banner and a custom message written by the administrator specifically for that category and for the specific user group.

We see businesses optimizing their end-users’ procurement purchases by layering their procurement policies with Guided Buying on top of a dynamic Amazon Business marketplace. This enables procurement managers to scale their impact, mitigate risk and standardize spend without creating burdensome processes for purchasers.

To learn more about Guided Buying, visit our page here.

This post is sponsored by Amazon Business and is written by Hersh Nagar, Principal Product Manager Tech.