'Procurement processes get more focus than people'

Procurement processes are often given more attention than people, according to Amazon Business.

Mario Marin, head of US sales, government at Amazon Business, said “many focus on the defect in the procurement opposed to the person you're actually trying to serve”. He emphasised the importance of “customer-centricity” and warned  “customers are often left out of the conversation”.

Speaking at YPO’s World of Procurement conference in London, he said customer-centricity brings innovation and better market engagement, adding: “For us, the customer always gets a seat at the table, it’s what we call customer obsession.”

Marin said ongoing, regular engagement with the market delivers the conversation required to increase innovation. He said: “We strive to start with the customer and work backwards, and innovate on their behalf.”

When developing an innovation Amazon looks to the needs of its customers first instead of “building complex spreadsheets”. Marin said they asked for detailed information from customers to find out what they want.

“It is important to systematically capture the voice of the customer and build it into every procurement innovation,” he said.

“We realised consumers buy differently to institutions, universities and councils on a national level,” said Marin. Amazon Business was created to address the needs of buyers and suppliers, including ease of use, large availability of goods, and competitive cost. 

This year, Amazon Business built a digital public sector procurement platform in collaboration with YPO to provide easy access to many goods in a consolidated space, said Paul Smith, deputy managing director at YPO. The firm used knowledge from consumer buying over the last 25 years to adapt a business marketplace platform for public sector procurement.

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