With Amazon Prime Day upon us, business leaders are asking themselves “How can I win like Amazon?” If you are a B2B manufacturer or distributor like many Xngage clients, you may also be asking “How can I win like Amazon Business?” Simple: service, assortment, and frictionless e-procurement for B2B buyers.
Amazon Business – The History and the Future
Amazon Business began around 2015 and has grown into approximately a $25 Billion business. They got a head start as an Amazon brand extension, but they’ve proven to be a powerful force in their own right. Here is the bigger insight, however: according to Barron’s Justin Post, the addressable B2B ecommerce market is estimated to be $5.7 Trillion by 2025, with Amazon Business only slated to capture 1.5% in share. If you are thinking like Lloyd did in that iconic film moment, e.g., “So you’re saying I have a chance?” – yes, yes you do.
What does Amazon Business offer B2B buyers? The range is broad, but quite simply all the things that make e-procurement more efficient and effective, such as*:
Amazon Business IS essentially a lifecycle management platform that helps you plan your business needs today and tomorrow. Through service, assortment and frictionless buying, there’s no good reason to leave.
*If these e-procurement needs are new to you, see our Xngage blog on Digital Strategies for B2B Commerce to help give you context for this article.
Part One: Winning with Service
If you have a robust ecommerce system, including many of the digital commerce functions listed above, then you are already on your way to winning like Amazon Business. But how does your customer rate a service experience with you? And when was the last time that you asked? If your answer is “I don’t know” or “We have feedback, but we’re not sure” then start with some customer service research that can uncover pain points, or friction, in an ecommerce flywheel. Some answers you should know are:
Amazon Business provides value within their service model in part because they are quite obsessed with customer satisfaction. Service is in support of an optimal Customer Experience. By example, Amazon Business offers curated content by profession (or role) to help buyers narrow product choices. The focused scope makes a buyer’s e-procurement job, and your customer service representative’s job, much easier. And easier and more efficient experiences will lead to more satisfied customers.
In addition, Amazon Business takes frequent, real-time pulses of buyer journeys, identifying issues and fixing them pronto. Is your organization dedicated to near real-time problem solving of your site? It should be or else a valuable cart may be abandoned. And Amazon Business counts on their ecosystem to be part of the solution too. They rate their suppliers on the timeliness of responses to customer queries and there are penalties for non-compliance as well. It is all part of delivering extraordinary experiences.
Amazon also includes self-service as part of its service standards. On every Product Detail Page (PDP) buyer questions are prominently displayed for other buyers to reference, and they highlight any possible pitfalls in specifications, installations, or in some cases, availability. In addition, the detailed (or VERY detailed) product descriptions on these PDPs not only help with self-service, but they also help drive product searchability and help to reduce returns. It is better to have MORE information in the research pre-sell process to get found and to be clearly understood, since informed buyers are usually more satisfied buyers.
What can you do? As an overall rule, view service functions as part of the customer experience and reduce friction throughout the buying process. When friction occurs, make systemic changes quickly to minimize lost conversions at scale. To prevent friction at the beginning, leverage a Product Information Management System (PIM), and if you don’t have one yet, ensure that your product data is complete, updated timely, and uses a wide variety of content tools so that the customer can either self-service OR your customer service team can access this information quickly through a Knowledge Base. As importantly, understand how your customers experience your business in both traditional brick-and-mortar environments as well as digital to be sure there is congruency. It’s all part of customer-centric, buy-anywhere, hassle-free (including returns), e-procurement experiences. And for cutting-edge experiences, implement “track-the-truck” technology on your website so that customers can see where an order is on the delivery route and when it will arrive.
Part Two: Winning with Assortment
It can be paralyzing to think about competing with the “long tail” (thousands of choices) of the Amazon product assortment. With new Amazon distribution centers popping up everywhere and their ability to procure thousands of products, Amazon Business truly has the endless aisle. But even Amazon Business must make choices for their categories and overall business.
Amazon Business optimizes its assortment and has a robust line-review process that identifies product trends, product gaps, and optimal buyer assortments. Assortments are created for a variety of reasons, including the best location for product use, products commonly used together, and in some cases, products bundled for value. As a former Amazon Business vendor, we brought category insights and complete solutions to Vendor Merchants who were tasked with growing their categories. Here are some assortment ideas you may not have considered:
What can you do? To define an optimal product assortment again consider some research, and this time, conduct end-user customer research. Observe firsthand (e.g., in the field) your customers using products, and talk to the people whom your buyers trust so solutions are designed for the environments they serve. They will tell you their optimal assortment based on the jobs that need to be done. In addition, invest in brands that are at the forefront of leading product trends, such as sustainability, or leveraging the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) for connected commerce, or designed with Artificial Intelligence, Finally, research marketplaces and activate your company where you can win. Digital Commerce 360, experts in ecommerce, has information on the top online marketplaces and opportunities for your vertical business. While no doubt you are managing inventory well, think ahead to what makes life more efficient and effective today and in the near future for your buyers’ buyers – the end users – and you are thinking like Amazon Business.
Part Three: Winning with Frictionless e-Procurement
How many times have you left an Amazon check-out page and said, “That was too easy.” We know it was designed to be. Big data has given Amazon and Amazon Business insights on how to create excitement, leverage on-page communications and zip customers through the flywheel to checkout. The trojan horse is Amazon Prime and all the fuss at this time of year is truly warranted: customers anticipate, they save, Amazon delivers, everyone wins. Prime offers yet another set of business incentives to stick with the leader:
Beyond Prime, though, Amazon Business also offers financing and bid quoting. While you may, too, they coupled this with first-to-market one-click technology, which allows the buyer to store secured, preferred payment information ready for when they are, and at the touch of a mouse. Throughout the buyer’s journey the one-click functionality appears prominently, encouraging the sale, and may be tied to financing terms that make it attractive to Buy Now.
What can you do? If you have identified your best customers, consider offering them a Loyalty Program like Amazon Business Prime that helps them feel special and gives them access to exclusive offers. And, if you think like Amazon Business, consider ways that you can keep them in the buying system with marketing tools designed to further the next sale. If capital permits, consider a financing option to further strengthen your relationship with customers. At minimum, model their buying patterns and create helpful and efficient auto-replenishment functionality for them. Xngage has significant experience creating and implementing auto-replenishment functionality like Subscribe-and-Save. And finally, let Xngage hep you leverage the technology of one-click purchasing so your B2B organization be one of the first in your vertical market with this cutting-edge technology.
Winning isn’t a Sprint, it’s a Marathon
While your B2B business cannot implement all these suggestions before Amazon Prime Day 2021, you can start planning for next year and the coming years. Good B2B ecommerce experiences are always in demand, and when buyers can procure timely, maintain assortments, and get product quickly to where it is needed most, you win. Make Winning Like Amazon Business one of your 2022+ priorities, and plan for it now with Xngage, to get your fair share of the growing $5.7 Trillion B2B ecommerce market. If a giant like Amazon Business is only predicted to get a 1.5% share, then there is plenty of room for you, too.
Feedback From You
Do you have experience with Amazon Business and tips to share? Let us know in the comments below and be part of the conversation sharing your knowledge and expertise with the B2B ecommerce community.
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