Amazon is launching a new division that it hopes will help to revolutionise procurement for businesses in the same way that it has disrupted the world of consumer retail.
The American online group will confirm the start of Amazon Business in the UK today, which is intended to help small and large businesses and institutional buyers such as universities and hospitals to buy products.
It said that there would be 100 million business products on offer, from laptops, office supplies and storage solutions to industrial grade pressure washers, microscopes, test tubes and even high-speed centrifuges.
Companies wishing to use the service will have access, too, to a separate Amazon Business website with “business-tailored features”, such as free one-day delivery on orders of more than £30, as well as VAT-exclusive pricing and VAT invoicing options.
There also will be an Amazon Business Analytics function that will help businesses to understand what they are spending their money on. Line managers will be able to set spending limits on business user accounts.
It is the latest initiative from Amazon, which has started to deliver groceries in the UK through its Amazon Fresh and Pantry initiatives while increasingly signing up more Britons to its Prime service.
The company now provides exclusive video content, cloud computing, its own fashion brands, a music-streaming service, Alexa, the digital Amazon assistant, and drone deliveries, among other innovations.
The group, which is based in Seattle, Washington State, recently announced plans to hire another 5,000 people to take its British workforce to more than 24,000. Doug Gurr, UK country manager for Amazon, said that it was hiring for all types of roles, from flight-test and software engineers to operations managers and service technicians.
Amazon Business was launched in the United States in April 2015 and served more than 400,000 businesses, generated more than $1 billion in sales, in its first year.
The unit was launched in Germany in December and Amazon said that more than 50,000 customers had signed up since then.