The announcement heralds “convenience, business-only selection and pricing and free two-day shipping.” “Catalog distributor” you say? Nope. Amazon.com/business, which was announced today.
In many ways, it’s the distribution industry’s worst nightmare. To date, the esoteric, complex and often-expensive electronics components that engineers use to design high-tech products were sold predominantly directly from suppliers or through authorized electronics distributors. Small orders of components — single items, in some cases — were the domain of catalog (or low-volume, high mix) distributors. These companies have welcomed the recent wave of do-it-yourselfers and jobbers. But as more components have become commoditized and widely available on the open (or non-authorized) market, the appeal of an Amazon.com was inevitable.
A quick trip to Amazon’s “computer components” store shows Intel and AMD processors, NVIDIA’s GeForce and RAM for under $50. Some of the purchase options are “new” or “used;” pricing ranges from a set price to “make an offer.” A random search of “sellers” on the site doesn’t show any well-known authorized distributors.
Amazon’s press release says:
“Amazon Business provides easy access to hundreds of millions of products – everything from IT and lab equipment to education and food service supplies – as well as business-only selection and pricing. Amazon Business customers will also benefit from free two-day shipping on tens of millions of eligible items, multi-user business accounts, approval workflow, payment solutions, tax exemptions, dedicated customer support and much more.
“We’ve heard from business customers that they love the convenience of shopping online, and want an experience at work that is similar to how they shop at home,” said Prentis Wilson, Vice President of Amazon Business. “Amazon Business delivers a new and expanded marketplace that brings the selection, convenience and value of Amazon to business customers, manufacturers and sellers with the additional selection, features and back-end integration businesses need to save time and money.”
Some of the features Amazon Business offers include:
Tailored Business Experience: Unique search, browse and shopping experience that is tailored specifically to business purchasing.
Business Accounts: Create a single or multi-user business account, invite additional users to join the account, and define groups of users to easily share payment methods and shipping addresses.
Free Two-Day Shipping: Fast, free shipping on orders of $49 or more on tens of millions of eligible items, plus access to even faster shipping options.
Multi-Seller Marketplace: View multiple offers on a single product page for easy price comparisons, as well as shop sellers that consistently meet the performance and service requirements that businesses expect.
Business-Only Pricing: Business-only prices on select items and quantity discounts from select manufacturers and sellers.
Business-Only Selection: Business-only items combined with Amazon’s vast selection provides access to hundreds of millions of products, including hard-to-find items.
Purchasing Approval: Create approval workflows to enable better spending controls.
Purchasing System Integration: Integrate leading third-party procurement solutions for easy access.
Amazon Tax Exemption Program: Make tax-exempt purchases and manage tax exemption permissions across an organization.
Order Tracking: Add purchase order or reference numbers to purchases to assist with reporting and account reconciliation.
Amazon Corporate Credit Line: Place orders and finance purchases using a Pay-in-Full Credit Line or a Revolving Credit Line.
Comprehensive Product Information: Rich product pages and studio-quality photography, as well as dimensions, CAD drawings and manufacturer how-to videos.
Amazon Business Customer Support: World-class Amazon customer service dedicated to registered business shoppers.
Sound familiar? It should. Electronics distributors offer most of these same services.
OK buyers, weigh in: Are you inclined to buy components from Amazon.com? Why or why not?