Walmart and Amazon Battle Heats Up With Small Businesses a Burgeoning Battlefront

office supplies

The jousting between Amazon and Walmart, angling for small business loyalty, is heating up.

With the app as a key battleground as small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) buy supplies that keep operations humming.

Walmart on Wednesday (July 19) unveiled a new app designed to speed the process of bulk ordering of back-office supplies.

Among other features — and in a nod to omnichannel efforts — Walmart said the app enables “one-tap check in” for curbside pick-up at more than 4,700 U.S. locations and direct-to-office delivery scheduling. In addition, spend analytics lets Walmart Business+ members track spending.

The announcement builds on Walmart’s January launch of Walmart Business, which operates as a B2B eCommerce site that has more than 100,000 items.

Eyeing Business Spending

The competition between the two commerce juggernauts underscores the appeal of capturing business spending. That Walmart app detailed above follows closely on the heels of the Amazon announcement late last month that Amazon Business’ own procurement store has extended its Business Prime Duo membership — where subscribers had paid $69 per year — as now free for Amazon Prime members who also make business purchases. The program lets small business owners keep business and personal expenses siloed, helping them keep track of business spending while streamlining taxes and accounting, as we detailed last month.

The programs reflect a blending, of sorts, of purchasing behaviors. Business owners, after all, are consumers too, and there is conceivably a natural pivoting between spending on goods shipped to (or picked up) for the home and items bought and geared toward running a business (read: janitorial supplies, for example, or business furniture, coffee too).

By deepening the loyalty to the platforms — across a variety of professional and consumer transactions — Amazon and Walmart have the potential to create “one stop shops” that offer a continuum of commerce. Amazon, for example, has said that third-party sellers have accounted for a majority of eCommerce sales (at 60%), so making the B2B component a bit more intuitive makes sense as the two companies build out ecosystems.

There’s at least some short-term tailwind that might be seen as businesses take stock of growth opportunities and of what they might need to buy to capitalize on near term opportunities — because some cash may be freed up to do so. As noted in this space, producer prices for final demand rose 0.1% month over month in June, which was lower than the 0.2% that had been expected by economists.

Drill down a bit and the intermediate reading, which measures prices paid, largely for commodities, declined by 0.6% for processed goods and 2.1% for unprocessed goods. And although, overall, services pricing was up 0.2%, transportation and warehousing prices slid by 0.9%, indicating that there is at least some relief on margins.