Amazon Attacks Another Market Segment: Business Supplies

Think your business or industry is safe from the growing and encroaching shadow of Amazon? You’re probably fooling yourself. The company that was once a silly little business trying to sell books online now practically sells everything … and they do it so well, they’re actually expanding into industries they literally replaced.

Now, Amazon is planning to go after commercial business suppliers in Britain with a business plan that includes selling business products from computers to cleaning products. And, you can even get VAT-free pricing and a handy software application that will allow you to track and budget your business spending.

Amazon Business is the company’s latest foray into a new market segment. After books and other collectibles, Amazon expanded into video, music, and toys for all ages. More recently, they introduced pilot programs in the grocery and delivery industries and even cloud computing.

And this business supplies market model is someplace Amazon has already been. The company launched a comparable operation in the States a few years back, followed by another version of the same operation in Germany the following year. Britain is the next nation in their sites.

According to various reports, when Amazon expands this service into Britain, it will do so with about 100 million products ready for sale online.

So, now that they have succeeded in America, Germany and they’re poised to do so in the UK, the natural question becomes: “Where to next?”

So far, no one is saying much, but there is certainly a lot of speculation. Will Amazon set its sights on another market segment and build on its customer base in those three countries, or will it try to get a foothold in an economy seeing huge growth, such as India or China? No telling at this point, but any attempts to go that direction would require an interesting shift in tactics as well as a careful public relations approach.

A few months back, Amazon found itself in hot water in India after some consumers discovered products on the site that offended a large segment of the population. After government officials took Amazon to task, the company did its best to mitigate the PR damage, but there’s no doubt the business took some lumps.

And doing business in China, especially online, is an entirely different animal with a whole different set of challenges.

In the meantime, though, brick and mortar retail business suppliers in Britain, Germany, and the US are now faced with the same challenge that doomed Borders and countless other businesses along the way … how can you win against Amazon?

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Ronn Torossian is the Founder, President and CEO of New York-based 5W Public Relations. He has overseen the company's rapid growth and expansion to the Inc. 500 list, as well as provided counsel to hundreds of companies, including members of the Fortune 500, Inc. 500 and Forbes 400. His work spans global interests, corporate entities, high-profile individuals, regional business entities, government agencies and academic institutions - both on routine public relations matters and extremely sensitive issues. One of the foremost public relations experts in the U.S., Torossian is known for his aggressive, results-focused orientation, as well as his close working relationships with members of the media, influencers, decision makers, politicians and celebrities. At 5W Public Relations, Torossian's client experience has included programs for Coca-Cola, Microsoft, Anheuser-Busch, Barnes & Noble, Cantor Fitzgerald, IHOP, McDonald's, Evian, EDS, VeriSign, XM Radio, Seagram's, The Loews Regency, Bad Boy Worldwide Entertainment, Marriott Hotels, Vail Resorts, Pamela Anderson, Snoop Dogg, the Government of Israel, and others. Referred to by The New York Post as a "publicity guru," by Fox News as a "high-powered PR CEO," by Tyra Banks as a "crisis management guru," and by CNN as "a leading PR expert," Torossian is regularly featured in and quoted by the media, including by CNN, Fox News Channel, MSNBC, NBC, The New York Times, and others. CBS National News said "Ronn Torossian knows spin," and a New York Times feature story on Torossian referred to him as "The consummate hard-driving, scrappy NY publicist." Earlier in his career, Torossian was a Vice President/Group Director for one of The InterPublic Group's (IPG) largest PR agencies, where he was responsible for significant client growth and successful client programs, including work for Clinique, Fox News Channel, DHL, Hard Rock Café and others. A resident of Manhattan’s Upper West Side, Torossian was named to the Advertising Age "40 Under 40" list, PR Week's "40 Under 40" List, is a regular lecturer at universities and conferences, a member of Young Presidents Organization (YPO) and a board member of numerous non-profit organizations.