Amazon Business is moving ahead with its foray into Europe.
The business-to-business e-commerce operation of Amazon.com Inc. today launched a site for the United Kingdom, targeting an online B2B market estimated by the U.K.’s Office for National Statistics at more than $120 billion.
The site, at Amazon.co.uk/business, features more than 100 million products ranging from office and janitorial supplies to electric motors and metal-cutting drills for companies of all sizes, says Bill Burkland, head of Amazon Business UK.
Amazon hasn’t released figures on the numbers of buyers and sellers on the U.K. site, though it notes on the site that U.K.-based businesses already selling on Amazon marketplaces were “expected to achieve export sales of more than 1.8 billion British pounds in 2016, up 29%” from 1.4 billion pounds the prior year. 1.8 billion pounds is equivalent to $2.24 billion. More current figures were not available.
Amazon operates 11 e-commerce marketplaces worldwide, including Amazon.co.uk, where it and thousands of other companies sell to consumers as well as to businesses. Its Amazon Business portals now operate as extensions of Amazon marketplaces in the U.S. and Germany as well as in the U.K. The Amazon Business portals differ from the broader Amazon marketplaces in the features, including pricing and business account services, they offer specifically for business buyers and sellers.
On the new U.K. site, for instance, Amazon Business provides such features designed for U.K. businesses as:
- VAT-exclusive pricing, which shows buyers the price of goods without the inclusion of value-added tax. In the U.K. and other European countries, it’s common to apply a value-added tax that manufacturers, distributors and retailers each collect and submit to their local taxing jurisdictions after the final sale to an end-user.
- VAT invoicing, which displays records of value-added tax that businesses use when filing tax returns.
- Exclusive pricing that sellers can offer to business customers, including discounts for volume purchases.
The Amazon Business U.K. site, like other Amazon sites, also provides sellers the option to use Fulfillment by Amazon to fulfill orders through Amazon’s own network of distribution centers, including 12 in the U.K. out of more than 100 worldwide. And it allows buyers to use the Amazon Prime service for 2-day shipping.
“Whether you are a sole trader, a buyer in a mid-size company or a chief procurement officer in a large multi-national organization, Amazon Business has the products and capabilities to serve your needs,” Burkland says. “Amazon Business combines more than one hundred million business products with a new set of unique business features—from reporting and analytics to spending limits and purchasing workflow approvals.”
The launch of the newest Amazon Business site has stirred various responses from businesses in the U.K. “We are very excited about Amazon Business, which will simplify sales for us and allow us to make our offers more attractive to institutional buyers through business-specific pricing,” Dariusz Dubis, a director at Microdream Limited, a firm certified by Microsoft Corp. to refurbish computer products, says in an online testimonial.
Others are more wary of Amazon’s presence. In preparation for Amazon Business’ expected arrival, SPOT Group, a wholesaler of business supplies under the Spicers brand, has been upgrading its own distribution center network and delivery services over the past two years to be more competitive, CEO Jeff Whiteway said late last year.
The U.K. Amazon Business site is the second in Europe and follows the December launch of Amazon’s B2B portal in Germany, at Amazon.de/business. More than 50,000 business customers and 10,000 sellers now use the Germany-based Amazon Business portal, Amazon says. “Building on this success, we are now offering Amazon’s selection, convenience and value to businesses in the U.K.,” it says on the new U.K Amazon Business portal.
Amazon Business launched in the United States in April 2015, replacing the former AmazonSupply. Amazon says Amazon Business surpassed $1 billion in total sales during its first year of operation, and had 45,000 sellers aside from Amazon itself as of the end of last year. Amazon Business is No. 104 in the B2B E-Commerce 300.
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