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Amazon Business: What It Is and How It Can Benefit You

Matt D'Angelo
Matt D'Angelo

What is Amazon Business, and how can it help your small business grow? Here's everything you need to know about Amazon Business.

Amazon Business offers business owners access to the retail giant's vast network of suppliers for easy ordering and bulk volume discounts. For members of Amazon Business Prime, additional deals and features are available to help manage their cash flow and control their business expenses. How can you business benefit from Amazon Business or a Business Prime account? Read on to learn more about each.

What is Amazon Business?

Amazon Business provides its users a purchasing solution for their registered business of any size. Each business can assign users who are allowed to go in and purchase business supplies on Amazon on behalf of their employers. The main administrator can add authorized users or remove them as needed, and manage payment methods, shipping addresses, approval workflows, reporting options and more, based on the needs of the business.

"We provide easy access to hundreds of millions of products – everything from IT equipment to janitorial supplies – to businesses of all sizes and across industries," said Martin Rohde, director of the commercial vertical at Amazon Business. 

Price savings and shipping options

Amazon Business offers exclusive price savings and shipping benefits for its registered business members. Anyone with a business account can purchase via Amazon.com. Account holders receive price breaks on multi-unit purchases, general price cuts on millions of business products, and the opportunity to compare prices from multiple sellers. You can even request quantity discounts from some sellers.

"We constantly hear from Amazon Business customers that our business-only prices across such a vast selection of products are key to solving their 'tail spending' challenges (money spent on nonplanned or managed supplies, spanning a broad range of categories)," Rohde said. "Tail spend can be costly and time-consuming for businesses, as it often requires managing hundreds or even thousands of different suppliers."

Payment options

You or another administrator of your Amazon Business account can add individual or shared payment options. Shared payment methods include credit cards, debit cards and the Amazon corporate credit line. Any authorized user of your business account can use the payment method of choice to purchase items on your business's behalf. While all your authorized account users can use the card you register, to increase security, they will only be able to see the last four digits.

The Amazon corporate credit line expands your user and management options, giving you the ability to authorize multiple buyers on a single account, download order history reports and pay by purchase order, according to Rohde. It also has easy-to-understand statements and no annual fee. Account administrators can manage individual and shared payment methods and shipping addresses to make ordering seamless for all purchasers in your company.

"We recognize that business customers need to manage a single payment relationship with Amazon Business and receive standardized invoices, while also having the flexibility to purchase from millions of suppliers," said Rohde.

Advantages for small businesses

Many businesses have the opportunity for tax exemption under the Amazon Tax Exemption Program (ATEP). Amazon provides a tool to help you determine if you qualify for the program. The program then allows you to apply your tax-exempt status to eligible purchases from Amazon and all of its affiliates. You don't even need an Amazon Business account to take advantage of this benefit.

Amazon Business also provides some transparency into the supply chain purchasing process with the analytics dashboard.

"Customers can look at their spending activity and total costs on purchases at the individual, purchasing group or type of spend level – giving small businesses the information they need to better control their bottom line," Rohde said.

He added that small business sellers on Amazon Business have the opportunity to grow their sales by reaching millions of business customers across the globe.

What customers say

Having touted its "tailored business experience," has Amazon come through on the promise of Amazon Business? Its growing numbers of customers certainly think so.

"We have our Amazon Business account to mainly take advantage the Amazon Tax Exemption Program," said Rob Boirun, CEO at Reviewster Network. "So, in addition to getting tax-free purchases, we love the program's ease of use in ordering and reordering our most common items. When we run out of printer toner or other office supplies, we can easily order within a few seconds, and the items are in the office two days later."

Boirun said his company has also used Amazon Business for larger purchases, leveraging payment options where the firm can split up the payments between different people in the company. "For example, we purchased a new Wi-Fi router and were able to split up the bill so that four different people using it would each pay 25%."

Amazon Business helps some companies more than others in certain areas, and company decision-makers should know those caveats before signing on with the program.

"Amazon Business works the best when you have products that can be purchased in bulk for businesses," said Chad Rubin, an e-commerce business owner and a Top 50 Amazon seller. "That's a big benefit, as you can incorporate bulk pricing to boost sales and provide a discount to businesses who need a larger amount of your product."

Rubin pointed out that when Amazon Business customers use bulk pricing, they can reach a new audience that tends to spend more, such as other businesses. "It definitely helps when you use bulk pricing to attract customers who need more of certain products."

What is Amazon Business Prime?

Amazon Business Prime is an Amazon subscription that provides a few benefits to subscribers. A subscription includes access to free delivery, discounts and member-only offers. Amazon Busines Prime also includes spending reports powered by AWS QuickSight. Spend visibility provides graphic-driven reports to help manage your business's Amazon-related expenses.

Additionally, Business Prime members have access to guided buying for employees. Guided buying allows administrators on the account to set preferred suppliers and products and restrict employee capabilities when it comes to placing orders. Business Prime members also receive extended terms for Pay-By-Invoice, extending their payment terms to 45 or 60 days depending on their plan. 

Amazon offers free two-day shipping in the continental U.S. for Business Prime products, and same-day delivery is available in eligible ZIP codes and select cities. Same-day delivery is available seven days a week most days of the year, with limited availability on certain holidays and high-volume shopping days including Black Friday and Prime Day. Your order must be at least $35 with the free same-day icon to qualify for same-day shipping.

Business Prime customers can also use Amazon Day for free to select a single day each week to receive all their weekly items, preventing excessive package deliveries. Eligible items can be ordered up to two days before your business's selected Amazon Day.

What does Amazon Business Prime cost?

Amazon Business Prime has several membership plans to accomodate various numbers of users. These include:

  • Duo: The Duo plan is $69 per year and accomodates one user. It does not include access to spend visibility, guided buying, or extended terms for Pay By Invoice, however.
  • Essentials: The Essentials plan is $179 per year and includes up to three users. It does make available the spend visibility, guided buying and extended terms for Pay By Invoice that are not available with the Duo plan. 
  • Small: The small plan is $499 per year and includes up to 10 users. 
  • Medium: The medium plan is $1,299 per year and includes up to 100 users. 
  • Enterprise: The Enterprise plan is $10,099 per year and includes more than 100 users. It also includes an optimal deployment, in which Amazon Business Professional Services fine tunes the account to optimize spend visibility and policy settings in a full scale implementation process.

Is Amazon Business Prime a good deal?

Many businesses find value in the subscription, but it's not always the cheapest way to shop. The value of free shipping on selected items from Amazon is impacted largely by local prices and availability, bulk prices for business shoppers, and order scheduling. For example, if you own a restaurant and typically order from Restaurant Depot a few times a year, you should do a price comparison; you may already be getting the best deal possible. On the other hand, if you live in a remote area where little in-store shopping is available or delivery costs are often very high, Prime may be worth it.

Jennifer Post contributed to the reporting and writing in this article. Source interviews were conducted for a previous version of this article.

Matt D'Angelo
Matt D'Angelo,
Business News Daily Writer
See Matt D'Angelo's Profile
I'm a staff writer for Business.com and Business News Daily. I cover various small business topics, including technology, financing and marketing.