The new offering may not seem as flashy as some of Amazon's other recent efforts, such as the expansion of same-day and one-hour delivery or the pilot of the Amazon Dash, a gadget for your home that allows you to restock on essentials with the press of a button. But it's arguably more consequential: The business-to-business market is massive, and this is a sign that Amazon is now making a big play to corner it.
Amazon says millions of business customers have purchased billions of dollars of goods on the regular Amazon.com site in the past year.
“We’ve heard from business customers that they love the convenience of shopping online, and want an experience at work that is similar to how they shop at home,” said Prentis Wilson, vice president of Amazon Business.
The addition of a business-to-business marketplace brings Amazon in closer step with Alibaba, the Chinese e-commerce platform that has long counted such sales as part of its business.
The dedicated marketplace aims to cater to the specific needs of business shoppers, with features such as multi-user accounts and special "business-only" pricing, in which customers might get special deals for purchasing in bulk or simply because the manufacturer chooses to offer discounts to corporate customers. Amazon has also integrated a way for organizations to take advantage of applicable state tax exemptions.
Amazon had previously experimented with AmazonSupply.com, a site that sold lab equipment, janitorial cleaning chemicals and other office supplies. The company is effectively shuttering that site when it launches Amazon Business. AmazonSupply.com will be redirected to Amazon's main homepage beginning May 13.
Amazon's chief executive, Jeffrey P. Bezos, owns The Washington Post.