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Amazon opens marketplace for US business customers

Amazon opens marketplace for US business customers

Businesses can purchase common items like pens as well as more specialized products, like hydraulic presses

Amazon has opened a marketplace for businesses where they can purchase items ranging from basic office supplies like paper clips to sophisticated products such as lab supplies and tractor parts.

Companies that use Amazon Business will receive free two-day shipping on orders costing more than US$49. Only U.S. businesses can shop at the marketplace, but it's open to both domestic and international sellers.

Amazon built the site in response to strong demand from businesses for an online shopping service similar to the company's core marketplace for consumers, the company said Tuesday.

The marketplace has features that are more tailored to corporate buyers, like access to business-only pricing and quantity discounts. Businesses can also set up accounts that can be accessed by multiple people, incorporate third-party procurement systems and include tax exempt status.

The marketplace will offer business-only selections and give companies access to more than 250 million products. Businesses will be able to search for products using manufacturer and distributor part numbers.

Sellers can list their goods in specific categories, including IT, food and beverage, office, tools and scientific. They'll also be able to display quality and diversity credentials to indicate, for example, that their products meet industry standards or if the owner is a veteran or a minority.

Millions of business customers have purchased billions of dollars worth of products over the past year at Amazon, according to the company. The online retailer's top business customers come from the manufacturing, technology, education, business services and health services industries.

With the launch of Amazon Business, the company will close AmazonSupply.com, which sells plumbing supplies, janitorial products and other industrial items. After May 13, visitors to that site will be redirected to Amazon Business.

To start shopping on Amazon Business, companies only need to create a free account.

Fred O'Connor writes about IT careers and health IT for The IDG News Service. Follow Fred on Twitter at @fredjoconnor. Fred's e-mail address is fred_o'connor@idg.com

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