A lot of distributors are worried about Amazon’s growing influence in B2B markets. Despite Amazon’s replacement of AmazonSupply with the somewhat less-threatening Amazon Business in 2015, the increased competition in B2B markets created by Amazon Business still outweighs the new selling opportunities it has created.
Still, though, not all products distributors sell are a match for Amazon’s self-service buying model; some products are too complex and require too much in the way of channel services. Amazon has done a great job of making it easier for people to buy products, but they haven’t really made it easier for people to buy services. This is good news for distributors, because many of the products and services distributors sell go hand-in-hand.
Amazon’s underlying philosophy to date has ignored services almost entirely. But it’s not clear that things will stay that way.
Recently, I went to Amazon’s website to order some switches for my home to allow me to control my lights and AC from my iPhone. On the product page, I could see a little button saying that for about $80, I could get someone to come out to my house to install the switches. It was great for me to be able to add that service to my purchase a la carte. It was great for the automation specialist, too, who said the program has helped him find so many new clients that it has eliminated the need for him to advertise elsewhere.
That said, Amazon still lacks a full understanding and respect for the value of channel services in terms of what people are actually buying. But a change in this philosophy could represent a critical tipping point for their success in B2B markets and for the distributors that serve them.