Alibaba opens its B2B e-commerce platform to US sellers

2 min read
Image credit: Alibaba Group

Alibaba.com, Alibaba’s business-to-business (B2B) marketplace that connects Chinese suppliers with overseas buyers, is now opening its platform to small- and medium-sized sellers in the US in an effort to expand its global presence in the B2B e-commerce sector, the company announced on Tuesday.

Why it matters: The move falls in line with two of the company’s major strategic themes: globalization and a shift to business-facing services. It is also a defensive move to fend off fierce competition from global rivals like Amazon.

“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 US SMB companies to compete and succeed in today’s global marketplace.”

—John Caplan, head of North America B2B at Alibaba Group on cooperate blog Alizila

Details: Alibaba.com has launched a series of new features to help new US suppliers with onboarding and marketing.

  • Sellers will get a dedicated 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 payment solutions.
  • A local customer service team was set up in the US to support sellers.
  • US firms Office Depot and Robinson Fresh launched stores on Alibaba.com on Tuesday.
  • The move will open up markets in China, as well as India, Brazil and Canada for US sellers.

Context: Currently, the platform is still focused on exporting Chinese products to the rest of the world. Around 95% of the sellers come from China, while roughly one-third of its buyers are US-based. Adding more sellers will boost the platform’s overall value proposition while also attracting and benefiting more SMBs globally, according to Alibaba.com.  Meanwhile Alibaba’s shift to provide services to enterprises is reflected in various business units within its ecosystem.

  • To build up its global presence in the business-to-consumer service (B2C) sector, the company launched an English-language website last month for its B2C Tmall Global marketplace.
  • Alibaba seeks to digitize local businesses with a service package of 11 different elements under its A100 program.
  • Chinese tech giants like Tencent and JD are following suit in the shift to focus on enterprise services.