ANYTHING YOU CAN DO I CAN DO BETTER
Amazon is ever creeping into many industries including the B2B space with Amazon Business, but how does it stack up to group purchasing? On the surface, the Amazon model may seem like it is providing the best pricing; the truth is, that pricing is unstable. Amazon is beholden to market fluctuations affecting their third party sellers, while GPOs have established relationships with the nation’s top suppliers. More importantly, pre-negotiated terms and conditions, including price protection, shield customers from shortages and market conditions. Furthermore, you can rest assured that if there is a shortage it won’t mean a disruption in your supply chain. On the other hand, Amazon customers may not pay the same price every time for their products. If something is out of stock, it’s the customer’s responsibility to find a comparable product that hopefully isn’t much more expensive and meets the same function as the out of stock item.
Established relationships with suppliers are crucial because they go far beyond pricing and extended into a full range of ongoing services. Amazon for example, may be a great place to buy a printer, or even 10 printers, but a GPO contract offers a complete products and services solution. Through a GPO contract, you can purchase as many printers as needed and take advantage of managed print services available through the supplier. Managed print services are fully outsourced services that could provide regular machine maintenance, toner delivery, onsite managed mailroom services, document management software and efficiency consulting.
Services cover all business products and needs. For instance, Office Depot and Staples, both contracted Provista suppliers, have services to cover important tasks like graphic design and document shredding. Other suppliers offer critical services like elevator maintenance, full facility furnishing, staffing and business operational support, allowing customers to get everything they need for their business through a single supply chain partner.