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Three years down the line: How Amazon Business is revolutionizing procurement

Head of Amazon Business UK, Dave Brittain, talks to Spend Matters about how digitalization is impacting procurement, and what the business has planned for the future.


Tell us about Amazon Business — how it began and how you came to join the team.

Amazon Business started back in April 2017, so we had our third anniversary this year! I’ve been with Amazon for almost seven years now and started my position as the director of the Amazon Business team in early 2019.

In a nutshell, Amazon Business was created to make businesses’ lives easier by saving them time and money. It is essentially the convenience of our e-commerce site but optimized for the needs of B2B businesses. It has various clever tools and features to help increase efficiency and improve productivity, and we’re always expanding the use of machine learning to automate manual and time-consuming tasks, making processes far more streamlined. In this short period of time, we’ve helped millions of companies in Europe reap the benefits of digital buying, and we hope to help many more.

Can you comment on Amazon Business’s growth trajectory? How quickly have you grown, and what results have you seen in businesses using the site?

Our growth has been exponential. Amazon’s B2B gross sales grew considerably in 2019, and it has been incredibly exciting to see considerable uptake and positive results.

In the UK alone, we now have hundreds of thousands of customers all from various industries including both large, small and medium-size organizations. In terms of results, one example with AB is an international travel company. It estimates it is saving around 19% of total costs, including time savings for product research, reduced costs due to competitive pricing and free shipping, freeing them up to focus on what matters most to their mission and core values.

To date, what have been some of your team’s biggest successes, and what have they enabled Amazon Business to achieve?

There have been a lot of great achievements this year alone. I’d say one thing that I’m particularly proud of is the new website, which has proven to be a vital tool for businesses to usher in digital change that opens doors.

I’d also say the Covid-19 Supplies store initiative is something I’m most proud to be a part of. These are unprecedented times and being able to use our expertise and global network of suppliers to source essential products for UK government and NHS, who are vital to safeguarding our communities and getting the country moving again, was really rewarding. We were truly humbled by the trust customers have placed in us during this challenging time. Also, with many companies transitioning back into the workplace, we have now opened up the store to all businesses and hope to support them by providing reliable access to essential equipment they need to run successfully in the “new normal.”

The procurement industry has evolved. Can you comment on industry changes and the sizable role that digitalization is playing? 

The most significant factor in the evolution of procurement is the ease with which procurement processing can be done online. Digital buying is saving businesses a substantial amount of money and effort, and as businesses start to take that faithful leap into digital transformation, more and more will feel comfortable making that change as well. The operational benefits of online buying are also clear. Buyers from different locations and offices within a business are able to have their own sub-accounts with customized names and invoice addresses.

Undeniably, coronavirus has also accelerated change within the landscape. Businesses have been forced to adapt their methodologies, and where businesses were already waking up to the benefits of digitalization, many others now face the need for this adoption out of necessity.

What are your predictions for the future of procurement? 

We predict digital transformation to continue to be the influential factor that it is for businesses’ bottom lines, and we are excited to see procurement teams enable more modern ways of working, drive greater employee and organization productivity across the board, and play a key part in achieving greater business agility and velocity.

Using digital procurement as a strategic partner, organizations save time and money whilst improving the transparency of their procurement operations. They are in a better position to move with the times, towards a new era of working. Across all industries, we’ll see businesses digitize their processes and also see new businesses emerging with digital operations at their core.