Amazon has launched its first B2B private label range, Amazon Commercial, with cleaning supplies including toilet paper and paper towels, among the first products to be released under the new business division.
According to Amazon’s website, “AmazonCommercial creates value for businesses by providing professional grade, cost-effective products”.
It is understood the range, which currently features nine items including toilet paper, facial tissues and paper towels, was quietly launched in the US in mid-June.
Last year, the e-commercial giant launched a limited range of cleaning products under its Amazon Basics brand, however, it is not yet known if the B2B range will be expanded to include other janitorial items, or be made available in Australia.
Ron Segura, president of Segura Associates, told Inclean there are benefits for contractors purchasing from Amazon, such as reasonable pricing, but said the online platform will also have its drawbacks.
“Who do contractors contact for a demo of new cleaning technologies? Who do they contact when there is a cleaning challenge? Who do they contact to see what new products have been introduced that could specifically help them in their facilities? Amazon, by its very nature, is impersonal. It can’t do any of these things: In today’s world, the distributor is not only needed but needs to be a vital part of the team.”
Michael Wilson, vice president of marketing and packaging at AFFLINK, a supply chain management organisation, told Inclean Amazon has its strengths that will be hard for some distributors to match.
“The company is an expert marketer. So good, that when many consumers think of purchasing just about anything, they automatically go to Amazon to see if they have it. That’s marketing power the world has never seen before.”
Wilson said another advantage is that unlike distributors that must purchase products from a manufacturer and then store them, all of which can be costly, most of the products.
“Amazon markets are not purchased by Amazon. While Amazon does have fulfillment centres stocked with thousands of items, many products are purchased and stored by third-party vendors. It is not until the product is sold that the vendor is paid. This keeps expenses low for Amazon and in some cases, they may be able to pass on savings to end-customers.”
However, Wilson agrees Amazon is “impersonal”.
“It sells the product, that’s it. It does not offer any expertise on how to use the product; help contractors or facility managers select products that best meet their financial or facility needs; provide any form of training, education, or offer product suggestions.
“When it comes to selecting cleaning products, we could say purchasing from Amazon is a form of ‘trial-and-error purchasing’. Customers make a selection, but they do not know until they actually receive the product and use it if it works for them.
“Further, in many cases, they may not be able to figure out how to use the product correctly. This is unlikely to happen when working with a distributor and it is also Amazon’s big weakness.”
Wilson said to compete with Amazon, his advice for jansan distributors around the world is to create a new vision and mission statement for their companies.
“Amazon is here to sell, jansan distributors are here to help cleaning contractors and building managers keep their facilities clean, healthy, and looking their best.”
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