At first glance, I thought AmazonSupply.com was simply a (potentially very powerful) new extension of the successful Amazon.com ecommerce brand. I also thought that the new industrial supply site would simply be Amazon.com, Part II in that it would offer industrial products in the Amazon.com style. Today I realized that my assumption might have been wrong, at least in part.
While sifting through my Twitter feed, I stumbled across an article about AmazonSupply.com I hadn’t seen before. As I quickly read through the Forbes article, I discovered an interesting fact I hadn’t realized: AmazonSupply.com will offer the ability to place orders by phone.
Why is this so surprising to me? First of all, it’s a clear departure from the Amazon.com formula of being exclusively an online shopping experience. Second, it shows that Amazon is paying attention to the fact that not all B2B organizations are ready to place orders online and that makes them a more formidable opponent in the B2B world.
Like I said above, at first I sort of figured that this was Amazon.com, Part Deux–same platform and online experience but for a new audience with new products. I assumed that AmazonSupply would not meet the B2B consumer where they were, instead forcing them to transition to ecommerce if they wanted to take part in the lower prices AmazonSupply will offer.
The fact that AmazonSupply.com offers phone ordering as an option clearly says that Amazon wants to grab hold of as large of a portion of the industrial supply market as possible and is willing to bring customers over without forcing them to buy online. Ultimately, I think those customers will convert to online purchasing as they grow accustomed to the idea; however, AmazonSupply isn’t simply hanging it’s shingle out on the World Wide Web and hoping that they make the leap. The fact that they are changing their business model to accommodate B2B customers who might not readily make the ecommerce leap says that they are playing to win. They are, in fact, making their buying experience a little bit more B2B friendly. If that doesn’t have you scratching your head and wondering about the implications, I think you are missing something important.
What is your organization doing to make your ecommerce experience more user focused? AmazonSupply is changing their business model. Nervous yet?