You have probably shopped on Amazon.com to purchase discounted and bulk items. If you haven't, you're at least aware of the e-tail giant. But for small businesses, Amazon Business can offer even more benefits than just cheap prices and free shipping.
Amazon's program provides registered users with a variety of benefits that are not available to regular Amazon account holders. Basically, an Amazon Business account makes purchasing corporate items and supplies through Amazon seamless, efficient and inexpensive.
What is Amazon Business?
Amazon Business makes purchasing on Amazon easier for registered businesses, and it's free. Simply click Create Free Account on the Amazon Business page; you will then be guided through the setup process. The person who creates the account is the administrator and their information is used to verify the account.
Once the account is created, the administrator can add people who can then add groups, make purchases, create approval workflows and add purchase order numbers. Plus, the administrator can add and manage business-account features such as payment methods and shipping addresses. [See our best picks for credit card processors.]
Business pricing and large quantity discounts – even tax-exemption benefits – are perks for registered business account customers. Amazon Business services can be linked to existing Amazon Prime accounts. To learn more about Amazon Business, visit the main landing page. You can sign up for a free 30-day trial.
As you start making purchases, you'll be able to view Amazon's Business Analytics and see all the data about your orders and create reports.
How does Amazon Business work?
Amazon Business works almost exactly like a standard Amazon account. If you've ever used Amazon to purchase something, then you're already familiar with the basics of how Amazon Business works.
To use Amazon Business after signing up for your free 30-day trial, visit the Amazon website and log into your newly created Amazon Business account. Once you're signed in, upon browsing Amazon for items such as office supplies and other business products, you'll see the steep discounts available solely to Amazon Business customers such as yourself.
You'll also need to be logged in to access your free Amazon Business tools. Once you're logged in, hover your mouse over where your name appears in the top right-hand corner to access the two main categories of Amazon Business tools: Business Settings and Business Analytics.
Do you have to pay for Amazon Business?
You can sign up for an Amazon Business account for free, but signing up for Amazon Business Prime costs extra. The following Business Settings tools are available to free users:
- Manage all the users on your Amazon Business account
- Establish order-approval procedures and spending caps
- Make a company credit card accessible to certain account users
- Opt-in to Amazon Corporate Credit
- Integrate purchasing systems so your customers have a punchout option
- Set certain qualifying purchases for consolidated delivery on a pallet to your doorstep or dock
- Save preferred suppliers for easy purchasing access
A free Amazon Business membership also includes a Business Analytics tool through which you can see charts and other infographics that track and monitor your business spending. You can also sign up for the Amazon Tax Exemption Program if your business qualifies for tax-exempt purchasing.
What kinds of businesses can use Amazon Business?
In theory, any kind of business can use Amazon Business. If you run a small e-commerce business, you may find Amazon Business useful for automating regular delivery of crucial office supplies. Larger businesses, such as those with over 100 employees, may find Amazon Business helpful for ensuring guaranteed delivery of vital packages of office supplies and other business goods.
Businesses that earn money by selling their products to other businesses can also use Amazon Business as a marketplace for reaching their customers. If you run a business that sells office supplies or other crucial business goods in bulk at discount prices and want to shift toward an e-commerce business model, register as a seller on Amazon, then create a Business profile.
How can you join Amazon Business?
To join Amazon Business, head to the Amazon Business landing page. You can then sign up for your free 30-day trial using the orange button on the left-hand side. Register using your business email, then provide Amazon with proof of your business information, including address, business tax ID and credit card. Within 24 hours, Amazon will verify your business and, in the interim, you can track the status of your verification.
Can businesses join Amazon Prime?
In theory, a business can join Amazon Prime to get the same free shipping and delivery (note that sales tax is still charged.) However, Amazon Prime is intended for single-user, personal use and therefore lacks the tools and even heavier discounts of Amazon Business. For businesses in need of Prime benefits, Amazon has launched Amazon Business Prime in the U.S., Germany and Japan.
Which benefits are included with Amazon Business Prime?
Amazon Business Prime gives your business access to free same-day or two-day shipping on certain items. Unlike Amazon Business, an Amazon Prime Business membership is not free, and the cost per year varies by tier. The cost tiers are:
- Essentials: $179 per year; maximum of three users allowed
- Small: $499 per year; maximum of 10 users allowed
- Medium: $1,299 per year; maximum of 100 users allowed
- Enterprise: $10,099 per year; minimum of 100 users required
Additionally, a lower-priced Enterprise option called Public Sector is available for $3,499 per year – roughly one-third the usual Enterprise price – to governments, nonprofit universities, public education institutions and healthcare facilities.
Amazon Business Prime perks extend beyond expedited, free shipping and heavy discounts on bulk business products. Amazon Business Prime users receive access to the following exclusive tools:
- Spend Visibility, which displays visualizations of your business's spending to analyze data and track spending trends.
- Guided Buying, which allows you to tag certain suppliers and products as preferred, place restrictions on certain product categories, and more.
- The Amazon Business American Express Card, which has no annual fee.
- Extended terms for Pay by Invoice, meaning that your business can pay its monthly membership dues 45 to 60 days after invoice from Amazon instead of the usual 30-day payment terms stipulated in your Amazon Business Prime contact.
Amazon Business offers discounts on millions of products. It also provides price breaks on multiunit purchases and allows the user to see multiple offers from a variety of sellers on a single page.
The site offers quantity discounts and tiered pricing discounts for higher-volume purchases on select items. To show items for sale at a discounted price from participating sellers, you can click Request a Quantity Discount.
Just as Amazon users with free accounts can pay a yearly fee to opt into Prime and receive free same-day or two-shipping, Amazon Business users with free accounts can upgrade to Amazon Business Prime for unlimited, free two-day shipping on eligible items. Customers can sign up for a Business Prime Shipping annual membership based on the number of users their business account has, with memberships ranging from $179 to $10,099 per year.
An Amazon Prime account can be linked to the business account for free. Prime membership makes you eligible for exclusive Prime Day deals during the company's annual sales extravaganza. Plus, if you use an Amazon Echo, Echo Dot, Echo Show, Echo Plus, Echo Spot, Echo Look, and Tap, as well as Fire TV, Fire tablets and a variety of third-party devices for voice ordering through Amazon's Alexa, you're eligible for even more deals.
Amazon Business offers a few different payment options. A credit card can be added to the account that can be accessed by multiple users. Amazon also lets you open a corporate credit line. If you go that route, you can authorize multiple buyers on a single account, download order history reports and pay by purchase order.
Amazon Business integrates with 30 common purchasing systems, including BirchStreet, Oracle iProcure and Spectrum. So if you're used to using a PunchOut program, you still can.
Other small business benefits
The Amazon Tax Exemption Program allows Amazon Business customers to apply their tax-exemption status to eligible purchases from Amazon, Amazon Digital Services, Warehouse Deals, Amazon Services or other participating sellers.
The Amazon Tax Exemption Tool guides users through the process of enrolling in the program. You can update your status and edit or upload certificates. Once you review your order, you can modify which items should have the tax-exemption certificate applied.
Anna Attkisson also contributed to the reporting and writing in this article.