The new digs
AmazonSupply offers products "from basic supplies like drill bits and automatic hand dryers, to hard to find parts like laboratory centrifuges and miniature polyimide tubing." In addition, orders can qualify for free two-day shipping, and there is a 365-day return policy, a dedicated customer service center, and corporate lines of credit that allow customer to pay up to 45 days later.
How did Amazon get into this business? Although the specifics were undisclosed in any annual report, Amazon acquired SmallParts, a supplier of "tubing, parts and fasteners for the medical supply and research industries" in 2005.
The new competition
With the new site, Amazon welcomes several new direct competitors. Staples
Also, Home Depot
The new arguments
Now Barnes & Noble and Best Buy won't be the only topics in discussions of online versus bricks-and-mortar. However, get ready for any of the following questions: Will business customers wait a few days for the tools, materials, and supplies? Or do AmazonSupply's target customers demand the immediacy of shopping in person? Will shipping these potentially heavy tools and materials continue to erode Amazon's margins, like many have claimed Amazon Prime has done? Are the current relationships between business and supplier too strong to disrupt? Will Home Depot and Lowes be caught up in a price-fixing scheme for e-wrenches? OK, maybe not that last one, but Amazon's move into this market will definitely spur some interesting dialogue.
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Fool contributor Dan Newman thinks delivery workers might not appreciate delivering boxes of bronze bars. He owns shares of Amazon.com, but no other company mentioned above. Follow him @TMFHelloNewman.
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