Amazon Business: Changing the culture of dental purchasing

Dr. Lou Shuman and Lauren Burns Krzyzostaniak focus on Amazon Business, its growth, and how it is shifting the way dental products and services are being transacted in the dental industry.

Apr 1st, 2019

About five months ago, I was interviewed by a different journal and asked to provide the next five big things that would affect dentistry in 2019. My number one was the impact Amazon Business would have on the dental industry. Supporting that decision was that though Amazon doesn’t advertise or promote its entrance into a space, Amazon Business saw $1 billion in sales in the first year alone.

Amazon Business currently covers the government, education, commercial, and health-care industries, and it has already made quite an impact in dentistry. As of last spring, according to an article on the Dental Products Report website,1 there were more than 40,000 product results from companies such as 3M, Hu-Friedy, Premier Dental, Dentsply, DenMat, and Sunstar GUM.

On the Amazon Business sign-up page,2 prospective customers will learn that the convenience of Amazon is available not just for homes, but for businesses of all sizes. An introduction reads, “Amazon Business is everything you love about Amazon, designed for your business, whether you’re running a neighborhood restaurant or a large multinational enterprise. You get the easy, familiar Amazon shopping experience, with its competitive prices, plus the benefits below.” Those benefits are savings, quick shipping, flexible payment options, and a one-stop shop.

It’s an attractive offer, so it’s no wonder that hundreds of thousands of business sellers and millions of customers worldwide are taking advantage of the business pricing, analytics tools, and free shipping on qualifying orders. And Amazon makes it easy; any dentist can sign up for a free account and start ordering. Now available in eight countries—including the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Japan, and India—
Amazon Business is growing.

Amazon Business intends to “set a new standard for B2B e-commerce,” says one spokesperson. They are doing so by making shopping for practice inventory as easy as shopping for a new Bluetooth speaker or setting up automatic reorders for paper towels. Part of raising the standard is offering multiple shipping options to business customers. Business Prime was launched in the United States, Germany, and Japan in
October 2018, when about 34% of physicians used Amazon to purchase medical and dental supplies, according to CNBC.3 While there are 100 million Prime members globally as of April 2018, it is unclear how many users are on Business Prime.

A 2016 study4 indicated that more than half of all product searches began on Amazon, so it makes sense that the digital giant would make its way into business purchasing as well.

“Amazon Business introduced a variety of health-care products and medical supplies to the store after hearing from both sellers and customers that they wanted to find ways to simplify purchasing and reduce costs as a means to address systemic issues,” said an Amazon Business spokesperson. “Selling partners love Amazon Business for the trusted e-commerce service, the ability to offer business-only pricing—including quantity pricing and discounts—and that they can restrict products to business customers.”

Amazon Business is licensed to sell Class I and Class II medical and dental products in 47 states to dental professionals who have added their licenses to their Amazon Business accounts.

“Procurement is rapidly transitioning as health-care customers look for more choice and value that will also help increase employee productivity and satisfaction,” said Chris Holt, global health-care leader, Amazon Business. “Amazon Business supports the unique needs of health-care customers by allowing broad supplier choice, flexible shipping, and simple payment options. We also provide our selling partners with an opportunity to grow their sales by reaching Amazon Business customers. In fact, we created a dedicated team within Amazon Business to support medical and dental product suppliers to better serve their customers who are increasingly moving research and purchases online.”

I’ll be interested to see the newest numbers this spring in Jeff Bezos’s 2019 shareholder letter. I would imagine that we will see a lot of dental businesses joining the likes of 3M and Hu-Friedy this year.

Amazon is not going away, and its impact will only continue to grow both for sellers and buyers. You know what they say: if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.

Author’s note:Dentists, you can learn more about Amazon Business at this link: amazon.com/dentist

Editor’s note: This column appears bimonthly. Find the February article on dentaleconomics.com. Search “artificial intelligence.”

References

1. Mott K. How Amazon Business is shaking up the dental industry. Dental Products Report website. http://www.dentalproductsreport.com/dental/article/how-amazon-business-shaking-dental-industry. Published March 29, 2018. Accessed January 29, 2019.

2. Easy, stress-free purchasing for your business. Cut costs and streamline procurement with Amazon Business. Online Amazon Business commercial. Amazonbusiness.com website. http://www.amazonbusiness.com/brand-join-now. Accessed January 29, 2019.

3. Franck T. Shares of dental suppliers drop on potential new threat from Amazon. CNBC website. https://www.cnbc.com/2017/12/06/amazon-to-disrupt-the-dentist-next-dental-supplier-stocks-drop-on-new-threat.html. Published December 6, 2017. Updated December 6, 2017. Accessed January 29, 2019.

4. Soper S. More than 50% of shoppers turn first to Amazon in product search. Bloomberg website. https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-09-27/more-than-50-of-shoppers-turn-first-to-amazon-in-product-search. Published September 26, 2016. Accessed January 29, 2019.

Lou Shuman, DMD, CAGS, is the CEO of Cellerant Consulting Group, dentistry’s leading corporate incubator and accelerator. He is a venturer-in-residence at Harvard’s i-Lab, the chairman of the technology advisory board at WEO Media, a member of the editorial advisory board of Dental Economics, and founder and creator of the Cellerant Best of Class Technology Awards.

Lauren Burns Krzyzostaniakis an executive consultant at Cellerant Consulting Group. She is a regular contributing writer for many dental journals and a former editor-in-chief of Apex360, previously known as Proofs.

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