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May #tEDChat To Focus On Amazon Business

By Scott Costa, Publisher, tED magazine

The clock is ticking toward Wednesday, May 13.

That’s the day Amazon will launch its new B2B website Amazon Business, and slowly let AmazonSupply fade to black.  The new Amazon Business will be “The Everything Store” for business transactions, and we are now learning that the website will have more than 250 million products for sale.

That’s a lot, and according to The Street, an online financial media company, there are a lot of other big numbers being thrown around in the B2B marketplace.  By the end of this year, it reports the U.S. B2B market will pass the $8 trillion mark, with nearly 10% of those $8 trillion spent via e-commerce.  But it gets even more interesting by 2020, when the B2B marketplace is valued at $9 trillion (that’s a trillion dollar increase in four years). E-commerce will be used for $1.1 trillion in transactions in 2020, which is a little more than 12%.

You get the picture.  The B2B marketplace is growing very quickly.  The amount of money spent via e-commerce is actually growing even more quickly.  So a company like Amazon comes along and says it wants a big piece of that trillion dollar pie, and it launches Amazon Business.

How do you compete?  Farhad Manjoo with the New York Times offers one strategy.  “Mount a full frontal attack,” Manjoo writes. “Raise hundreds of millions of dollars from investors, build huge warehouses and a complex delivery infrastructure, establish deals with thousands of merchant partners and aim, through sheer brute force, to compete with Jeff Bezos’ behemoth on the very qualities that have made Amazon peerless – selection, speed, customer friendliness and price.”

So, that’s not going to happen.

But what should you do?  What is your plan to keep your share of that multi-trillion dollar opportunity that is only going to grow by trillions of dollars in the years to come?  How will you keep your relationships despite lower online prices and promises of fast delivery?  How will you market yourself to your customers that your website is better for e-commerce than the online giants’ websites?  How will you brand yourself to make your customers continue to come back to you, just like people go to restaurants and ask for a “Coke”, even when any dark colored soda will do?  And how will you compete with the 250 million Amazon Business products that will be out there, both in selection and in online data?

We don’t have all of the answers right now.  But we should talk about the questions, and at least put them on the table at a time when disruption to the traditional supply chain is actually happening.

So, on May 13, the Amazon Business launch day, we will host our monthly #tEDChat to gather as many people as possible from electrical distribution to “chat” about what the next strategy needs to be.  If you have some thoughts on any of these subjects, we would love for you to join us at www.twitter.com/tedmagazine at 1pm Central time as we spend an hour “chatting” about what happens next.  Also, if you have questions, we certainly want to hear from you and try to help navigate through this incredible change in our supply chain.  And feel free to tell others in your office or in the industry to also join us.

The clock is ticking toward May 13.  It’s also ticking toward 2020.  Don’t wait until the last second to start your B2B e-commerce strategy.

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