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What’s in store for retail procurement

Consumers are ready to return back to in-store shopping. Learn ways retail procurement leaders can adapt to changing sourcing demands.

Retail and distribution procurement leaders are under constant pressure to improve purchasing operations and support strategic priorities. At the same time, pandemic-related health concerns and social distancing guidelines have significantly altered shopping behaviors and reduced in-store traffic levels. Fortunately, as vaccination rates go up, so will the foot traffic in retail stores. 73% of in-store shoppers plan to return to shopping malls and centers once vaccinated1. How will purchasing processes need to adapt to the changing needs of retail employees and consumers while supporting long-term business objectives?

Retailers recognize the importance of resilient and agile procurement operations, allowing them to quickly pivot and respond to shifting supply demands while optimizing costs. In fact, eight out of 10 consumer retail executives say they expect supply chain investments this year2.

Here are three ways retail procurement teams can achieve efficiencies while driving business value with Amazon Business.

Equip and empower employees to buy what they need
When retail employees need supplies, they will often travel to different suppliers to buy what they need. The time spent off-site can reduce employee productivity in other tasks, add travel costs, and increase risks in employee safety.

Buying on Amazon Business allows retailers to find hundreds of millions of business-relevant products in a convenient one-stop online shopping experience. From office, IT, and health supplies to breakroom essentials, buyers can compare product features, reviews, and prices from multiple suppliers to ensure they get the right products efficiently.

Retailers also benefit from Amazon’s industry-leading fulfillment and delivery, with options for free, one, and two-day shipping on eligible orders. Employees can manage delivery preferences and consolidate shipments to focus on daily productivity instead of daily deliveries.

“With Amazon Business, I can order items that I need quickly. This has helped me and my staff save time by reducing trips to the store, and reduce errors in inventory tracking and ordering.”


— Ali Barrett, Medical Office Supervisor, Lemond Nutrition

By empowering employees to buy as quickly and easily as possible, they can spend less time buying and focus on value-add activities. Empowered, enabled employees are more productive and deliver better customer experiences for the organization.

Maintain spending goals across locations

Retailers have a diverse set of locations – from brick-and-mortar stores and corporate offices to warehouse and distribution sites – all with unique sourcing needs. Supply complexity and highly decentralized environments make it difficult for retail procurement leaders to manage spend.

Through Amazon Business, employees can compare pricing and delivery promises of a wide range of products in one place. Retailers can create a purchasing hierarchy that mimics their organizational structure. Procurement leaders can establish user groups, add administrators, and edit users and their permissions to manage how teams buy.

With automated, multi-tiered approval workflows, organizations can approve every purchase or only those above a set cost threshold. Features allow proactive guardrails to set preferred purchasing lists and restricted categories that steer buyers to approved products and suppliers. Retailers can also set preferences for purchasing sustainable products and buying supplies from certified diverse sellers to promote corporate social responsibility goals. With Amazon Business, procurement leaders can guide employee buying and meet business objectives while supporting the various supply needs of each location.

Make better data-driven decisions

Tight profit margins, high customer expectations, and growing competition bring demands for retail procurement leaders to reduce costs. Without full visibility into organizational spend, procurement leaders can’t recognize opportunities to optimize savings, identify gaps in buying policies, and build more strategic plans.

Procurement teams can gain a holistic view on spend across locations by consolidating purchases, creating spend reports, configuring visual dashboards, and tracking progress to goals on Amazon Business. This visibility allows retail organizations to gather trends on buying behavior, get a better understanding of total cost of ownership, inform budgeting strategies, and identify new ways to save. Demonstrating ROI and realizing cost savings presents opportunity for retail procurement leaders to drive true strategic value to the business.

Navigating what’s next

Shoppers are increasingly ready to emerge from quarantine and return to in-store shopping. The surge in traffic will require sourcing changes in order to manage the needs and expectations of customers and employees. By embracing smarter, more efficient buying processes, procurement leaders will be more prepared to navigate the post-pandemic retail landscape and gain a competitive advantage for the future.


Watch our on-demand webinar, "Cost optimization for procurement", to learn new ways to gain efficiencies while maximizing business value.




1 "An injection of hope: Life after the COVID-19 vaccine." IBM Institute for Business Value, 2021.

2 "2021 retail industry outlook." Deloitte, 2021.


Watch the webinar to learn more or connect with a customer adviser to get started.

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