Amazon takes on office supply retailers with launch of Business Prime Shipping

Sarah Perez

Amazon is going after corporate customers in a big way today, with the announcement of a new paid membership program aimed at multi-user businesses in the U.S. and Germany. Called Business Prime Shipping, the program extends Prime's free, two-day shipping benefits to all users with an Amazon Business account, allowing them to shop for office supplies and other company needs. The move is a direct challenge to office supply stores, like Staples, Office Depot and others, as well as other big box retailers, like Walmart, and warehouse deals stores, like Costco.

According to Amazon, pricing for the new membership program is based on the number of users on the account, and starts at $499 for companies with up to 10 users. It then goes up to $1,299 for businesses with up to 100 users, and $10,999 for those with over 100 users.

The program will also alert all the users on the account via email that they have the benefit enabled, once their company signs up. As new users are added to existing Amazon Business accounts, they'll be automatically in the program.

“Business Prime Shipping combines the wide selection of products available to Amazon Business customers, with the speed and convenience that customers have come to know and love from Amazon Prime,” said Greg Greeley, Vice President of Amazon Prime, in a statement. “We are excited to introduce a shipping program designed to meet the needs of businesses and will continue to innovate on behalf of customers to make business purchasing even easier.”

Amazon Business first launched in 2015 in the U.S. as a replacement for Amazon's existing B2B brand, Amazon Supply, which had been around since 2012. The program later expanded to other markets, including Germany, as well as the U.K., and more recently, India and Japan.

Along with the shipping benefits for millions of eligible items, Amazon Business offers other features larger businesses need, including bulk discounts and exclusive pricing on over 5 million items, the ability to compare offers between sellers, integration with over 30 purchasing systems, approval workflows, reporting and analytics, purchasing cards, and more.

In the past, Amazon Business customers who registered for a free account could then extend their own personal Amazon Prime shipping benefit to their Business account, if they were the only one at the company using the Amazon Business program. This individual benefit continues today, despite the launch of the new program.

Interested customers can sign up for a 30-day free trial of the new Amazon Business Prime Shipping, at www.amazon.com/businessprimeshipping, says Amazon.

The retailer did not say when the option would expand beyond the U.S. and Germany.