In a move to be more business-like, Amazon Business today launched an expanded feature set in its Business Prime shipping program for companies in the United States, Germany and Japan.
The development marks the latest step Amazon.com Inc. is taking to further strengthen its dominance of the B2B e-commerce market—where analysts at Forrester Research Inc. and investment firm R.W. Baird & Co. project Amazon Business is on course to hit $25 billion in gross merchandise sales within two or three years, up from its current $10 billion annualized rate.
Business Prime, a business-to-business version of Amazon.com Inc.’s popular Amazon Prime program for consumers, now goes beyond the program’s initial services based around two-day shipping for no charge beyond the program’s annual fee. Unlike the consumer-focused Amazon Prime, Business Prime does not come with entertainment features like streaming movies.
The new services include:
- Tools common in procurement software designed to help companies manage spending by their employees;
- Pay-by-invoice terms extended up to 60 days;
- A new Amazon Business American Express payment card, which offers U.S. customers 5% rebates or 90-day payment terms on eligible purchases at Amazon Business, Amazon.com, Amazon Web Services and Whole Foods Market;
- Upgraded shipping options including free same-day or one-day shipping for more than 1 million items on orders of $35 or more in more than 8,000 municipalities.
The expanded Business Prime program comes one year after Amazon Business launched it in the U.S. and Germany. An Amazon spokeswoman declined to comment on the current number of Business Prime users or the volume of transactions associated with it.
Amazon is offers Business Prime in multiple subscription plans, starting at $179 per year for up to three users. Other annual subscription fees run $449 for up to 10 users; $1,299 for up to 100; and $10,099 for more than 100.
The spend management features provide new ways for companies to view and analyze spending data and to exert more control over employee purchasing. A Spend Visibility feature uses a cloud-based business intelligence service based on Amazon QuickSight, which runs on cloud technology from Amazon Web Services and provides graphical displays of a company’s spending data. Users can view online dashboards and pull reports showing spending levels for product categories by department and individual employees.
Another spend management feature, Guided Buying, lets companies identify on Amazon Business preferred or restricted suppliers and products to increase control over spending by employees.
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