The BOSS Federation is the trade association which serves the UK office supplies and services industry by providing a range of initiatives, cost saving benefits and services, to enhance the business performance of its members.

BOSS's view on Amazon Business, Apprenticeship Levy Changes and Gender Pay Gap Regulations

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06 April 2017

Amazon announcing their offering to business customers earlier this week was no surprise to our industry as we have been anticipating this development with interest.

Amazon are obviously a powerful force in retailing and now bring their ecommerce offering to an industry which has always prided itself on high levels of service. I'm sure we've all been asked why a next-day delivery should be a requirement for office products and indeed you could argue that dealers & wholesalers have historically over-engineered service levels under competitive pressure to do so. Having said that, those consumers that have needed a printer cartridge for that urgently required document or badges and notebooks for their important meeting have depended on that swift and efficient service. Dealers have offered next-day delivery as a standard for many years, with same day delivery also available in some areas. What is different now is the breadth of choice that Amazon bring to the market with millions of different products on offer on one website.

That's where I believe the service provided by the office products dealer still has an advantage over the self-serve ecommerce model. Rather than leaving the consumer to trawl through millions of choices, the knowledgeable and experienced dealer will make a recommendation of the appropriate products for the customer's requirements. Many businesses may be concerned that the controls and efficiency that they have developed by working closely with their chosen suppliers may get swept aside by their users having access to the breadth of product on offer - including for products that may be too expensive or just wrong for the job required. Access to the Amazon site might get restricted to certain levels of authority within businesses, in the same way that Facebook and other social media sites are sometimes restricted to all employees.

Amazon will help ensure that the smartest dealers in our industry, of which there are many examples, will survive and prosper, as business buyers continue to realise that the service they get from their expert account manager and customer service team saves them real time and money, whether they order online or not.

Amazon should assist our whole industry grow through providing a broader choice of products to consumers - but we expect to see those consumers continuing to take further advice from their dealers before making purchases.

BOSS have a meeting scheduled with Amazon on behalf of our manufacturer and vendor members to discuss improving efficiencies between them and Amazon in the supply chain process.

Two important business notes this week for larger members:

1. From today the new Apprenticeship Levy applies to all businesses. It directly affects those with a salary bill of £3 million or over, but all are impacted by the changes to the way apprenticeships can now be funded.

2. Private companies or charities with 250 employees or more must publish a snapshot of their average salaries for men and women as of yesterday's date the 5th April 2017 and publish that by April 2018. Any companies with a significant gender pay gap will be encouraged to declare a plan alongside the figures to show what actions they plan to take to address the gap.


For further information please contact:
Philip Lawson
Philip Lawson
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