Amazon is a company that’s almost ubiquitous in most
people’s lives. No matter what it is you’re buying, checking the popular
retailer’s website is often the first port of call. Prices are usually
competitive, the selection is second to none, and their delivery options are
industry-leading. So, when the company announced Amazon Business in the UK back
in 2017, it was an exciting prospect. Since then, the platform has continued to
gain numbers and improve its offering. We look at everything you need to know about
Amazon Business plus their ‘Pay by Invoice’ offering and whether it’s right for
We start with a quick rundown of the positives and negatives
of using the service. This top-level look can give you an idea of whether you
could benefit from it. Depending on your circumstances or the nature of your
business, some of these will be more or less relevant to you:
Accounts are free to sign up for and open to
sole traders, SMEs, and larger companies.
Free One-Day Delivery on qualifying orders of
Pay By Invoice service on most products,
allowing you to access a line of credit for business purchases.
Pay By Invoice isn’t available on services or
Credit limits depend on a variety of factors and
can be reduced or removed at any time for any reason.
What is Amazon Business?
Amazon Business is a service from Amazon.co.uk offering businesses a marketplace where they can buy a wide range of products. It aims to serve the procurement needs for companies of all sizes, from sole traders to multinationals. Essentially, it’s a Prime account for businesses, offering a wide selection of incentives that are aimed specifically at organisations.
With features based around VAT pricing and invoicing, business credit, and transaction data, it’s a comprehensive service for those who need to buy goods and services for their company. Since launching in the UK in 2017, the service attracted over 90,000 companies in the first eight months.
What is Pay by Invoice?
When you sign up for an Amazon Business account, you’re given the option to pay for your order by card or by invoice. With ‘Pay by Invoice’, instead of having to pay the total amount straight away, you’ll be able to pay up to 30 days later – in a similar way you would with a charge card.
With ‘Pay by Invoice’, instead of having to pay the total amount straight away, you’ll be able to pay up to 30 days later
This can be beneficial for better business cashflow, particularly if you’re buying stock and selling on within that period. Amazon tends to give new business accounts fairly generous credit limits, which makes it possible to purchase most products comfortably. You can also request a high credit limit from Amazon.
An Amazon Business account is in many ways similar to a
standard Amazon account. You have to sign up with a valid email address, and
you can then make use of the various features on offer, browse items, and make
purchases. There are of course several notable differences though. With a
business account, you can add and manage sub-accounts and users, manage payment
and shipping details, approve workflows, and access various reports.
Getting started with an Amazon Business account is pretty straightforward. If your company already has one, you can create your own user account and get the administrator to add you. For new accounts, you’ll have to fill out your personal and business details and wait for Amazon to approve your application.
You can convert your existing Amazon email address into a
business user account. However, your account information and previous order
history will be viewable by administrators of the business account. If you’ve
previously used your email for personal purchases, it’s advised that you set up
a new account for your business.
Once your account is set up and approved, you can start
taking advantages of some of the many features Amazon Business provides.
What Features Does Amazon Business Have?
There are actually quite a few features that come with these
types of accounts, giving plenty of flexibility depending on the type of
business you’re part of. Smaller companies get the advantage of competitive
pricing and the potential for a line of credit, while larger organisations can
manage multiple users and reports. Below, we’ve outlined some of the main
features on offer:
business costs. There are preferential business rates on specific products,
as well as easy comparisons across price ranges. You also get free one-day
delivery on orders over £30.
cash flow. Businesses can use the Pay By Invoice features to purchase now
and pay in net 30 days after your order ships. This service is subject to
credit checks and limits.
invoice management. You can compare VAT-exclusive prices and organise your
invoices to download in bulk.
multiple accounts. You can replicate the structure of your organisation in
the user accounts connected to your Amazon Business account. This means administrators
can control spending, approve purchases, and create purchasing lists.
inventory. You can add regularly purchased items to lists, allowing you to
re-order with one click.
systems. Users can integrate their existing procurement systems such as Coupa,
JAGGAER and SAP Ariba with their Amazon Business account.
What Are the Fees for Using Amazon Business?
Perhaps the biggest plus about Amazon Business is that the
service is free. Businesses can sign up for an account without having to pay an
initial cost or monthly retainer fee. Provided you meet all of the terms of
service, you won’t be charged a penny. However, if you fail to pay an invoice
within 30 days or have an outstanding balance, Amazon will charge you interest
at the rate of 1.5% per month (or the highest rate permitted by law, if less)
on any late payment. You may also have your account suspended or closed.
It’s important that you make sure you pay any invoices on
time. You have 30 days in which to make payment, giving you plenty of time to
manage your finances and cashflow. Typically, you’ll be given a credit limit
that could be a few thousand pounds depending on the size of your business.
Who is Amazon Business For?
Amazon is trying to make this service suitable for just
about every type of business. For example, if you’re a sole trader who
purchases a lot of stock to sell on or make products to sell, you can buy in
bulk on credit at competitive rates. You’ll then have 30 days to pay the money
For larger companies, you can manage multiple accounts and
oversee the spending of the entire business and set up spending and product
lists for employees.
The VAT and invoicing tools are useful for just about
anyone. You can easily search and organise your expenditure and download it in
bulk, making the process of taxation a whole lot easier.
What are the Drawbacks of Using Amazon Business?
There are a few downsides to this account. If you tend to
buy a lot of digital products or those delivered by Amazon online, you won’t be
able to take advantage of the Pay By Invoice features. Your actual credit limit
also depends upon a variety of risk factors. This may include your location,
the registration information you provide and their ability to verify it, and
the requirements of applicable law. Amazon can also remove your credit limit
without notice for any reason.
If you fail to pay your invoice within the 30-day time
limit, you could face hefty interest fees of at least 1.5% per month. This
amount means that you could soon rack up quite a deficit if you don’t make your
payment on time.
How Safe is Amazon Business?
Amazon is one of the biggest companies in the world, meaning
that the platform is safe to use. Their website is secure and encrypted,
meaning that your data is safe provided you take care of your login details.
If you’re transferring over a personal account to a business
one, all of your personal information and previous purchase history will be
viewable by any linked user who has administrator privileges.
Amazon Business Verdict
The service that Amazon provides to business can be incredibly
useful. The features on offer are definitely appealing no matter what size of
company you’re running or working for. The ability to purchase such a wide
range of products in one place at competitive B2B prices makes it beneficial on
many different levels.
Smaller businesses will be thankful of the Pay By Invoice
feature, while larger companies can manage multiple employees and spending
channels. The business credit could make a huge difference to someone just
starting out, although the potential fines for late payment certainly need
Overall, Amazon Business should be considered by anyone who
regularly manages procurement for their company.