The pandemic spurred significant growth in ecommerce, including B2B marketplaces. Total global business-to-business spending is multiple times larger than consumer spending, but online transactions represent a significantly smaller share of ecommerce than consumer purchases. Thus, there is ample opportunity for expansion.
There are nearly 500 U.S.-based B2B marketplaces according to Digital Commerce 360, and Amazon accounts for the most sales. Almost one in three transactions on U.S. B2B marketplaces occur on Amazon Business.
Launched as Amazon Supply in 2012, it rebranded in 2016 as Amazon Business. It entered the European market in 2016 in Germany, followed by the U.K. in 2017. It now also operates in France, Italy, Spain, India, and Japan. India is Amazon Business’s second largest market after the U.S., despite closing a wholesale grocery distribution center (Amazon Distribution) in late 2022.
Amazon Business generated about $35 billion globally in gross merchandise value in 2022, up from $25 billion in 2020, encompassing direct sales and those of third-party sellers. Third-party merchants generate more than half of Amazon Business’s revenue. Among popular features for sellers is the capability to create custom pricing for different business customers and the option to set up recurring orders.
Popular Amazon Business Products
Per Statistica, Amazon Business’s leading product categories in 2020 were as follows.
Maintenance, Repair, and Operations
- Supplies for production machinery. Valves, motors, gears, bearings, electronics, machine oil, and other lubricants.
- Safety equipment. Hard hats, headlamps, masks, respirators, ear plugs, vests, and boots.
- Cleaning supplies. Disposable gloves, liquids and powders, disinfecting sprays, buckets, mops, and brooms.
- Laboratory supplies. Beakers, test tubes, syringes, and scales.
- Office furniture. Desks, chairs, and whiteboards.
- Computing products. Networking devices, printers, projects, and laptops.
- Breakroom items. Snacks and beverages.
- Automotive tools. Wrenches, spanners, trolley jacks, and multimeters.
- Car electronics. Adapters, windshield mounts, tire inflator, and headrest mounts.
- Car maintenance. Wiper blades, engine oil, and cleaning sprays.
- Car accessories. Windshield covers, floor mats, and seat cushions.
New Features for Buyers
Amazon is making its Business Prime Duo feature — previously $69 per year — free for Amazon Business customers who are also Amazon Prime members. Business Prime Duo is an Amazon Business membership that combines buying tools and access to business-only pricing on select items, along with free business delivery.
The benefits include (i) free one- and two-day delivery on millions of items, (ii) free same-day delivery on eligible products in 90 metro U.S. areas, and (iii) analytic insights with survey tools.
Prime members can sign up for Business Prime Duo by creating a free Amazon Business account with a different email address than their Amazon account and verifying their status as a business. They can then link their Prime membership to their new Amazon Business account.
Current Amazon Business customers can obtain access to the free Business Prime Duo when they link their personal Amazon account with an active Prime membership to their Amazon Business account. Amazon will reimburse existing Business Prime Duo members for the remainder of their pre-paid yearly membership, with the refund calculated based on the months elapsed since their last renewal.
In its efforts to expand ecommerce offerings, Walmart has largely followed what Amazon is successfully doing. In September 2022 Walmart soft-launched Walmart Business, a B2B marketplace. In January of this year, after tweaking the marketplace based on user feedback, Walmart announced that it was offering over 100,000 items, focusing on office supplies, furniture, food, and electronics. Merchants must apply to sell on Walmart Business, and the vetting process can be lengthy.
To compete with Amazon Prime Duo, Walmart offers business customers Walmart Business+ for $98 a year. Members receive free shipping with no minimum order, free delivery from stores with a minimum $35 purchase, spending analytics, and 2% in rewards with a minimum $250 purchase.