Federal Government Opens the Door to More Online Retail

Federal Government Opens the Door to More Online Retail
The move could impact an area that attracts some $6 billion of annual spending.

Online retailers reportedly could receive more “micro-orders” from the federal government under a new program.

According the Washington Post, “for the first time, federal workers will be able to purchase supplies and equipment — including office furniture, desk supplies and more — in a dedicated channel through massive online retailers, a move experts say will increase efficiency, save money and help the government keep track of smaller purchases.

The three-year pilot is being run through the General Services Administration (GSA), and a contract has already been signed with Amazon and Overstock. “The program, which the GSA expects to be operational within 30 days, will allow authorized personnel to make “micro-purchases,” or items costing less than $10,000, through the online marketplaces,” the report said. Already, the federal government spends at least $6 billion annually on open-market purchases, according to figures from the GSA.

Anne Rung, the Amazon Business public sector director, told the newspaper that Amazon can offer “an efficient, cost-effective option for federal purchasing that brings savings to taxpayers while also supporting independent small and diverse businesses selling in our stores.”

The move happens at a time when retailers are not only worried about how robust the back-to-school shopping season will be, thanks to the pandemic, but also as many employees continue to work from home. The extent of the uncertainty and change in retail is demonstrated by the mystery of when Amazon will hold its 2020 Prime Day online shopping event. Amazon reportedly is putting off its summer Prime Day sale again, this time to October. Prime Day took place in July last year. This is the third time Amazon has delayed Prime Day this year, and it shows the uncertainty COVID-19 has brought to its logistics operations.