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Updated: Amazon to launch biz supplies service for SMEs in India

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Update: Speaking to Medianama, an Amazon India spokesperson confirmed that they are launching a AmazonSupply like platform in India. It’ll be called AmazonBusiness and is accessible at  www.amazonbusiness.in. As of now the platform is available to users in Bangalore on an invite only basis. The company did not disclose which cities it would target next.

Earlier (April 21):  Amazon India will be inviting small and medium businesses to procure supplies from a new website beginning this week, the first country outside the US where the ecommerce major is offering such a service, reports ET.

The company will test this feature by offering a pilot service in Bangalore, before extending it to other cities. The website is expected to go live in the latter half of May and will allow registered members to buy various products like office, kitchen and home supplies, health and personal care products as well as food and beverages, at a minimum order of Rs 1,000.

Amazon mentions that it will negotiate the wholesale rates directly with manufacturers and sell to its members. The company will initially not be charging a membership fee, but said it will evaluate this policy later. The website will reportedly be modelled around AmazonSupply, the company’s business focussed website that it launched in the US in 2012. Kaveesh Chawla will be responsible for the new business division.

The website, at launch, will be members only, which means that initially the company will invite small and medium business to trade online. Amazon mentions it will look to get kirana stores, hospitals, schools, and home entrepreneurs, basically anyone with a business licence, on board with this initiative. However its not clear at what domain Amazon will launch this service or what it will be called. We have mailed Amazon asking about this and will update as we receive a response.

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What’s worth noting here is that the service will not be available for regular customers. This is probably because FDI is currently banned in B2C e-commerce format, while the government allows 100% FDI in B2B e-commerce ventures.

Walmart B2B in India: Walmart, which currently operates 20 wholesale offline stores across eight states in the country under the “Best Price Modern Wholesale” brand, had launched its B2B e-commerce venture in Hyderabad and Lucknow as pilot projects in July last year. The company had extended the platform for members of its store in Rajahmundry, Andhra Pradesh, as a part of its expansion plans in December the same year.

The company had first stated plans of launching a B2B e-commerce platform for the members of its offline cash-and-carry format in April last year, after a troublesome offline retail stint with Bharti Enterprises which ended in 2013.

B2b marketplace Tolexo.com is another player in this space.

Edit: The headline has been edited for clarity and brevity

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