Research: Amazon Business survey results out

Martin Wilde Associates and OPI's latest report on Amazon Business reveals some game-changing facts about OP purchasing behaviour.

Amazon Business accounted for 23% of customers’ total business supplies purchases in 2016 and is set to rise significantly in the next two years, particularly for some sizes of customer organisation. That’s just one of the findings of Piranha Business: Investigating The Appeal Of Amazon Business, a new research report that was recently published by specialist OP researchers Martin Wilde Associates (MWA) and OPI.

Amazon originally launched Amazon Business in the US in the spring of 2015 as a B2B portal offering “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 US sales of $1.9 billion and to be achieving 20% month-on-month growth. Since then, Amazon has been rolling out the model in other countries and – as a result – it is vital that OP suppliers across the world get an up-to-date understanding of the strengths, weaknesses, issues and opportunities being presented by Amazon Business.

Piranha Business aims to do exactly that: the 200-page in-depth report investigates the profile, behaviour, needs and attitudes of 400 business customers in the US that had bought any type of office supplies from Amazon Business in the previous 12 months.

The study investigates customers’ current usage of Amazon Business across seven major product categories: traditional stationery products, office paper, computer and printer supplies, office furniture, breakroom products, jan/san supplies and business machines. It indicates the supply channels other than Amazon Business that are currently being used by respondents – as well as those that have so far lost sales in each category to Amazon Business.

The sample used for the research contained quotas to ensure that sufficient respondents from all sizes of company and US region were interviewed, and the study found some key characteristics of Amazon Business customers:

  • they are comparatively young on average;
  • they are equally likely to be male or female;
  • they are mainly employed in some type of office administration role, rather than specifically a purchasing or senior management role.

The research also uncovered some interesting facts about how and why buyers choose to purchase business supplies from Amazon Business. Indeed, one of the key findings of the report is the extent to which previous familiarity with the Amazon brand has assisted the successful growth of Amazon Business in the US market.

The research shows, only 24% of Amazon Business customers had never used Amazon before to source business supplies for their organisations.

The survey findings are supported by many of the answers given by respondents when asked why they had first started buying from Amazon Business. It’s noteworthy that, when asked about the perceived advantages of buying from the e-tailer, customers tend to report that their expectations on first choosing to buy from Amazon Business are generally realised in practice. And as many as 22% of respondents could not think of any disadvantages in buying business supplies from Amazon Business.

However, the remainder of respondents could identify downsides to buying from the company, and these are discussed in the report.

The survey also contains some real ‘game changer’ findings, showing how traditional customers’ needs are changing rapidly in line with the Amazon model in areas such as the need for representative visits, catalogue usage and speed of delivery. Other issues, such as how Amazon Business customers search for products and place their orders online, or what they really think about the company’s exclusive discounts, multi-user account facilities, business analytics and its integration with end-user e-procurement systems, are also investigated.

In addition, the report covers key questions such as:

  • How important is low price to customers and what is their perception of the ongoing competitiveness of Amazon Business’s pricing?
  • What do customers think about the quality of Amazon Business’s customer and after-sales service?
  • How frequently do customers place an order with Amazon Business and what is their average order value?
  • How important is ‘free delivery’ and how often do customers qualify for it?
  • Are customers happy to buy from third party suppliers via Amazon Business and to receive their order in several separate consignments?
  • What are customers’ usage and perceptions of the Amazon Basics brand?
  • Would customers ever go back to using a conventional OP supplier and what would persuade them to do so?

Piranha Business: Investigating The Appeal Of Amazon Business is an essential tool for understanding what is happening right now in the business supplies marketplace, where it is going in future and what action needs to be taken by vendors and resellers. The report is available now for $3,750. Please visit www.opi.net/Piranha-Business to order your copy.