Google and Amazon: Your New Friendly Neighborhood Industrial Parts Suppliers
June 4, 2013 Alex Woodie
Small and midsize distributors in the U.S. have a lot to worry about. Now they have even more, thanks to the new business-to-business (B2B) supplier operations recently launched by Internet juggernauts Amazon and Google. The services, both of which are in beta, could provide another sales channel for wholesale distributors–or they could become direct competitors.
Amazon claims to have more than 750,000 items available on its AmazonSupply website, which evolved from its SmallParts.com website and launched in 2012. Everything from air cylinders to zinc latches can be found here, which Amazon dubs “the Store for Business and Industry.”
AmazonSupply uses the same formula that made its e-commerce website so popular. Anybody with a Prime account at amazon.com can use that account to make purchases at AmazonSupply, and get free two-day shipping to boot. Amazon appears to source all of the products that appear on AmazonSupply, as opposed to working as a clearinghouse for other sellers on its regular ecommerce website. Customers can also place orders via a toll-free telephone number, which isn’t available to ecommerce customers.
Earlier this year (and probably in response to AmazonSupply), Google quietly launched its Google Shopping for Suppliers website. As opposed to stocking products in warehouses (as AmazonSupply apparently does, as there are no third parties listed as sources), Google Shopping for Suppliers operates as a business directory designed to connect customers with prospective suppliers.
Suppliers who want their products listed on the Google Shopping for Suppliers website must become Google Verified Suppliers. Google takes pains to ensure that companies are who they say they are, including running credit checks and doing general background checks.
Google is also collecting all kinds of data about the products featured on the site. A minimum of five product data attributes are required for a vendor to have its product listed, including name, photo, description, category, and special order abilities. Companies can also add other attributes, such as color, temperature, part number, product specification, minimum order, pricing per unit, lead time and website.
There’s speculation that Google is amassing a master list of product data for industrial supplies. Keeping product item data current is a notorious problem for supply chains, and bad product data is the source of tens of billions of dollars in lost revenue every year. This is what spurred the creation of 1Sync (formerly UCCnet) initiative.
While Google is focusing on a narrower strip of industries, it’ll still be interesting to see how the Web giant puts its new collection of product data to use.