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Services the key to fending off the Amazon Business threat

The retail giant might hoover up the transactional business but those resellers that can provide services will have more chances of retaining customers

Resellers already facing the prospect of coming up against Amazon Business have talked of the need to increase services to provide an alternative to the might of the transactional operation the retailer is running.

The spectre of Amazon Business hung in the air at the Canalys Channels Forums over the last couple of days, with the retailers decision to increase its B2B business seen as an out and out threat to the channel.

The offering is currently running in five different territories: The UK, which was started in 2017, Germany earlier this year, along with France, Italy and Spain.

Steve Brazier, president and CEO of Canalys, said that he expected the business marketplace approach would extend to a further five countries in the next couple of years.

He urged vendors not to give the retailer special deals that would undermine its channel relationships and make life even harder for partners.

"Our message to the vendors is if Amazon wins fair and square, ie it buys products at the same price, and manages to provide better customer service and cheaper prices and it wins a customer, that's fine. But we think Amazon business will put the vendors under a lot of pressure for special terms and conditions and deals, and we strongly encourage the vendors not to do that. It will be in your long-term disadvantage to do that," he said.

Amazon Business has been getting established in Germany and recently cut the ribbon in Italy and resellers from those regions were quizzed about how they were approaching life competing against the retail giant.

Giving the German perspective, Rudolf Hotter, managing director at Cancom, said that those that simply provided transactional business without, "adding any value on top of the box" had found it difficult.

"For transactional business, I think Amazon tried to take most of the market or all. Therefore it's important we add value," he said.

He added that the idea of working with the firm was not appealing because of the potential implications it had for customer relationships.

"If you do a shop in a shop, give Amazon the contact and all the details and data, to team up with Amazon is like to team up with the devil," he added.

Rinaldo Ballerio, is CEO at Elmec, an Italian channel business that specialises in 3D printing, and he echoed the need to increase the services focus to remain competitive.

"I see that we have the opportunity to move to our services, and the service-driven hardware sales that we will have our voice will be strong again, and with a bright future," he said.

He added that it had not yet had an impact in Italy but he expected it would do and that its, "defence would be service".

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