Q&A: Rob Green, general manager, public sector, at Amazon Business, shares his insights on B2B digital commerce growth strategies. He will also speak at the June 17 event, Breaking the Barriers to B2B Ecommerce Success, hosted by Digital Commerce 360.

Rob Green, general manager, public sector, at Amazon Business, will speak at the June 17 online event Breaking the Barriers to B2B Ecommerce Success on how online sellers can grow their online sales through Amazon’s B2B marketplace. The online event will be hosted by Digital Commerce 360.

Amazon Business, which has surpassed $25 billion in annualized gross sales in its sixth year of operations, processes sales for thousands of third-party sellers. Several Wall Street analysts have projected that Amazon Business will continue growing rapidly for years to come.

B2B sellers should constantly analyze customer behavior to make their listings stand out and drive sales growth online.

DC360: What is driving B2B companies like Amazon Business to expand online?

RobGreen-AmazonBusiness

Rob Green, general manager, public sector, Amazon Business

Green: B2B buyers have increasingly turned to online procurement to improve their efficiency and profitability, giving ecommerce-enabled sellers the opportunity to expand their customer base and drive sales growth. At Amazon Business, we’re focused on listening to the needs of our customers and selling partners to ensure our online store provides them with the tools and resources to be successful. We launched in the United States in 2015 and, within six years, we are serving more than 5 million businesses and have reached $25 billion in worldwide annualized sales. More than half of that comes from third-party sellers, and what makes Amazon Business unique is that we enable third-party sellers of all sizes to sell to large organizations. As a company, Amazon spends billions of dollars every year helping small- and medium-sized businesses around the globe succeed.

Small and diverse businesses have historically struggled to reach large B2B buyers through traditional sales channels. Online stores make it possible for buyers to diversify their supply chain and allow sellers to reach millions of potential customers without existing relationships. For example, Amazon Business provides resources to help sellers optimize their product listings and opens the door for customers to easily see pricing across multiple suppliers in a single, consolidated view.

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Additionally, the simplicity and convenience that buyers expect is driving B2B companies to online channels. Online stores can streamline the buying and selling process for procurement professionals at organizations of all sizes and industries, providing a level of agility that traditional manual processes often lack. Amazon Business offers unique features and tools like spend analytics, dynamic pricing and digital invoices that increase efficiency and save costs that are supporting the future of procurement.

DC360: What are the chief gains you’re realizing?

Green: We’re already seeing the positive impact of ecommerce in driving sales growth for diverse suppliers. Traditional B2B selling channels require that businesses direct awareness and traffic to their product offerings, and many small and diverse sellers lack the resources to become visible to large buyers. Online stores provide features to help small and diverse businesses expand their market reach by becoming easily identifiable to buyers looking to fulfill diversity spend goals. Amazon Business’ credentialed seller program allows sellers to display nationally recognized diversity certifications to business customers.

For example, Black- and Veteran-owned small business Aldevra increased sales by more than 300% in 2019 using Amazon Business. The Diversity Certifications Policy (DCP) tool has helped Aldevra upload state-recognized diversity certifications to broaden its reach. Buyers can easily filter searches based on these credentials to find and purchase from diverse businesses, as well as track certified supplier diversity spend across their organization to simplify their goal reporting. By accelerating the rate at which buyers diversify their supply chain, Amazon Business is helping businesses unlock innovation and achieve new growth.

DC360: What is the most valuable piece of advice you have on how to launch online B2B sales or increase them?

Green: At Amazon, we obsess over our customers and want to help our selling partners to do the same. B2B sellers should constantly analyze customer behavior to make their listings stand out and drive sales growth online. Making products easily searchable and providing buyers with detailed product listings are two examples of what can differentiate sellers online. Online stores like Amazon Business provide sellers with tools to optimize their product listings with accurate product data, competitive pricing and keywords.

Another key element to create compelling offers is to maintain competitive and consistent pricing. Sellers that actively monitor and compare similar listing prices to adjust their own will become more easily discoverable and meet customer expectations. Regular order updates and inventory checks, clear shipping and fulfillment policies, and a transparent return policy are additional ways to improve the buying experience and ultimately, succeed in online B2B sales.

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DC360: Regarding COVID-19, what is the biggest adaption your company has made?

Green: When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, many public sector organizations turned to our online store to meet demands for PPE supplies, such as surgical masks, ventilators, and sanitizing products. We quickly realized the need to alleviate supply shortages and get critical supplies into the hands of frontline workers. This led us to create COVID-19 Supplies to easily connect PPE suppliers with healthcare and government organizations in need of inventory, streamlining the order and fulfillment process while enabling selling partners to mobilize and expand manufacturing operations. To date, Amazon Business has delivered more than 200 million essential health and safety products to more than 13,000 healthcare and 7,000 government organizations. The ability to shift operations quickly with our online store has even helped selling partners like hand2mind, a learning solutions provider that began offering PPE equipment to healthcare workers and hospitals through our online store.

DC360: What existing trends will the pandemic accelerate?

Green: The trend of B2B ecommerce adopting B2C practices preceded the pandemic and will continue to grow as businesses accelerate their digital transformations. Buyers increasingly seek new and diverse suppliers and expect the efficiency of online sales channels. Amazon Business offers bulk discounts and faster shipping for Business Prime customers, mirroring the convenience of the consumer Prime experience. As procurement moves to digital channels, buyers will continue to realize the cost and time savings of online stores. On the seller side, online stores provide greater visibility into the customer. Sellers can leverage optimization and analytics tools to increase cost-savings and give customers the experience and products they want, leading to long-term loyalty and sales growth.

DC360: What new ideas will become trends?

Green: We’ve seen the rise of technologies such as artificial intelligence and machine learning being applied to procurement. For many buyers, a personalized purchasing experience is a top priority, and future-looking technology is the key. Amazon Business offers search function technology that analyzes buyers’ past searches to predict the products they want, and a Guided Buying feature that uses machine learning to narrow down approved products.

Advanced technology also allows sellers to reach thousands of new customers and receive real-time insights into their buying patterns to inform inventory decisions. For example, Amazon Business leverages machine learning to predict purchasing patterns, letting sellers know the supply volume they need, the space to store those supplies, and the costs associated with both. This transparency gives both sellers and customers time- and cost-savings during a time when they are trying to quickly adapt and respond to spikes in demand.

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DC360: What post-pandemic needs will become opportunities?

Green: The COVID-19 pandemic has required that many businesses accelerate their digital transformations to be adaptable and agile. These changes have introduced opportunities for procurement departments to shift online and reduce costs, streamline purchasing, and simplify their operations. Amazon Business helps to reduce cost and save time by allowing buyers to compare multiple personalized sellers, products, and price points in a single consolidated view—from any location. Additionally, analytics tools simplify back-end purchasing and budget management.

The pandemic has also accelerated changes for B2B sellers. With procurement increasingly shifting online, sellers of any size have the opportunity to reach a large audience of potential buyers if they prioritize customer attraction, retention and loyalty. Sellers can lean into the digital features that will provide customers with the experience they seek as expectations shift. Amazon Business offers analytics for sellers to track sales and pricing, and fulfillment to ensure faster delivery times.

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