Research: Piranha Business

Martin Wilde Associates and OPI are once again joining forces to investigate the appeal of Amazon Business within the business supplies sector.


Back in the summer of 2014, Martin Wilde Associates (MWA) and OPI published Swimming With Piranha, a market research report that investigated the use of Amazon for office products purchasing by B2B buyers in the US and the UK. The study published some significant findings about the true extent of Amazon’s penetration into the B2B OP market and why these end users chose to purchase from the company.

Things have moved on since then. In the spring of 2015, Amazon launched Amazon Business, a B2B portal that offers “hundreds of millions” of products, business-only pricing on select items, quantity discounts, corporate credit, free two-day shipping on eligible items and orders above $49, and multi-user business account administration allowing integration with third-party procurement solutions. 

Significant threat

By November 2016, Amazon Business was already reported to have reached sales of $1.9 billion and to be achieving growth of 20% month-on-month.

If Amazon was a challenge to established B2B OP suppliers, Amazon Business is already proving to be an even more significant threat in all types of B2B customer markets. It launched in Germany last December and in the UK in April. The fact that Amazon is rolling out this model in other countries only increases the need for OP suppliers across the world to gain an up-to-date understanding of the strengths, weaknesses and opportunities being posed by Amazon Business.

Addressing that need, MWA and OPI are now launching Piranha Business, a new research study featuring the results of 400 in-depth interviews with B2B buyers in the US. These buyers – from micro to large corporate companies – have purchased any type of business supplies from Amazon Business in the past 12 months. 

The 400 Amazon Business customers are being asked the following key questions about why – and how – they purchase business supplies:

  • What is the demographic profile of Amazon Business customers?
  • What business supplies product categories do they buy overall, and what product categories do they buy from Amazon Business?
  • What share of their overall business supplies do they now buy from Amazon Business? Is this increasing? 
  • Where did respondents previously buy the business supplies product categories that they now buy from Amazon Business?
  • Which other types of office products supplier do respondents still use?
  • When did respondents first start to buy business supplies from Amazon Business? Had they previously used Amazon or AmazonSupply?
  • Why have respondents chosen to buy from Amazon Business, and what are the perceived advantages and disadvantages of doing so?
  • How important is price to respondents? What kind of pricing do they want and what is their perception of the ongoing competitiveness of Amazon Business’s pricing?
  • What do respondents think about the quality of the customer and after-sales service at Amazon Business?
  • How important are commercial visits by suppliers to respondents?
  • How frequently do respondents place an order with Amazon Business and what is their average order value? 
  • How do respondents place an order with Amazon Business and how effective is their ability to integrate with their own e-procurement system?
  • What kind of delivery service do respondents require from Amazon Business? How important is ‘free delivery’ to them and how often do they qualify for it?
  • Are respondents happy to buy from third party suppliers via Amazon Business and to receive their order in several separate consignments?
  • How important to respondents is the use of a local supplier? Do they see buying from Amazon Business as having any social impact?
  • What is respondents’ perception of the value of the ‘exclusive discounts’ and promotions that Amazon Business offers?
  • What is respondents’ perception of the ‘multi-user accounts’ system and ‘business analytics’ offered by Amazon Business?
  • What are the perceptions and the usage of the Amazon Basics brand against manufacturer brands and other own brands? Are there any product categories in which they would not like to buy this brand?
  • How do respondents search for product and how easy is it for them to find required items on the Amazon Business site?
  • What is respondents’ anticipated future use of Amazon Business? Would they ever go back to using a conventional OP supplier and what would persuade them to do so?

The answers to these questions and the final report – which will also include a summary of the key research findings and conclusions – will be published in June/July 2017. The full report is available for $3,750. However, if you order your copy before 14 May 2017, a heavily-discounted rate of only $3,250 applies.