RealTime IT News

Shopping the New Old-Fashioned Way

In a move aimed at broadening its appeal, Amazon.com launched a new Corporate Accounts program that lets business and institutional shoppers buy online using purchase orders, as well as the traditional business credit card method.

In making the announcement, Amazon (it started out as a bookseller, remember?) put special emphasis on the institutional buyer from schools and libraries and government agencies, as institutions reportedly account for more than 40 percent of the $23 billion U.S. book market.

The program lets corporate buyers choose a preferred payment method -- online purchase orders or credit cards - and gives businesses the ability to designate account managers and authorized purchasers. Organizations that opt to pay by purchase order can apply for credit online, receive a line of credit and begin buying within minutes, Amazon said.

The program also features a suite of new account management tools designed specifically for corporate and institutional buyers.

Corporate account holders will also enjoy access to an online order history for all account purchases; one consolidated, line-item bill for all account activity; and the option to receive an e-mail notification every time a purchase is made, said Seattle-based Amazon .

"Whether it's local librarians ordering hard-to-find titles, corporate librarians purchasing training materials or small businesses buying software and printers, these customers will now be able to use purchase orders as a method of payment at Amazon.com," said Jason Kilar, vice president of media products at Amazon.com.

Oracle Corp., 3Com, Johns Hopkins University's Sheridan Libraries, the Northwestern University Law Library and Stanford University Libraries are among initial users of the new service.

Amazon is on a roll this week with new initiatives. On Monday it announced a deal with the 600-store-plus Circuit City chain of electronics stores that makes in-store pickup available.