Alibaba opens up its B2B platform to US businesses

Alibaba Group Corporate Campus Xixi Hangzhou China

The Alibaba Group is opening its Alibaba.com platform to manufacturers, wholesalers and distributors in the US to help them access the $23.9 trillion global B2B ecommerce market.

Previously, US small- and medium-sized businesses could only source goods on Alibaba.com from China.

That newly opened channel, along with a new network of industry partners and a nationwide tour to meet with business owners and teach them about Alibaba.com, is part of a broader push to enable 30 million SMBs in the US to better sell and source by using the site.

“Alibaba aims to empower entrepreneurs and help them succeed on their own terms. With 10 million active business buyers in over 190 countries and regions, we are reshaping B2B commerce by providing the tools and services needed for U.S. SMB companies to compete and succeed in today’s global marketplace.”

John Caplan, head of North America B2B at Alibaba Group

Enhancing the sourcing experience

Alibaba.com has launched a series of new features to support the onboarding and marketing efforts of new US suppliers on the site.

Sellers will get an easy-to-use interface for building and managing a digital store on the platform, CRM and communications tools for customer-relationship management and digital-marketing tools to target likely customers, as well as online payments starting July 25.

Online payments for sellers in New York and Nevada will not be immediately available at launch. The company did not specify an exact availability date for sellers on those two states.

Alibaba.com has also created what it calls a Customer Success team in the US to support SMBs as they join the platform.

US sellers are not the only beneficiaries. As more sellers arrive on the platform, buyers get greater choice across a range of categories for their sourcing needs, including both ready-to-ship and customized goods.

That will boost the platform’s overall value proposition while also attracting and benefiting more SMBs globally, Alibaba.com said.

The site now has an improved its search function to deliver faster and more-accurate results when buyers are sourcing on the site.

An ecosystem to support SMBs

To further support the entry of US SMBs on the platform, Alibaba.com said it was building an ecosystem of industry partners to provide the goods and services that these businesses need to succeed in global trade.

The ecosystem consists of “anchor sellers,” such as Office Depot and Robinson Fresh, the produce division of logistics company C.H. Robinson, both of which launched stores on Alibaba.com on Tuesday.

The two companies, their name recognition and extensive product inventories will bring increased in traffic to the site which should drive traffic to smaller sellers as well, Alibaba.com said.

“We’re proud to expand our strategic collaboration with Alibaba.com. By becoming an anchor seller, we can reach a larger small business audience and provide them with the products and services they need to compete on a global scale.”

Gerry Smith, chief executive officer for Office Depot

Besides anchor sellers, Alibaba.com has also partnered with software companies and service providers, such as logistics provider ShipStation and jobs search engine Indeed.

The company is also working with many other organizations at the national, regional and local levels to support SMBs in their growth through exclusive offers, discounts and educational content.

B2B ‘Build Ups’

Alibaba.com is launching a national tour of educational and networking events, called Build Ups, to help small- and medium-sized businesses better tap into the global B2B ecommerce opportunity, and to use the platform.

They held the first event Tuesday in Brooklyn, while they plan events in Los Angeles and Chicago in the coming week. Additional Build Ups will take place later in the year.

READ MORE: Alibaba and Kabbage collaborate to help small businesses grow


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