Coupa and Alibaba – a procurement marketplace match made in… San Francisco?

Big news from San Francisco today – a little more interesting than Camberley, I guess!   But Coupa are holding their client conference there this week, (that's San Fran, not Camberley) and the firm has just announced a partnership with Alibaba.com.  Many of us will know of Alibaba without being big users, I suspect, but it fits somewhere in that Amazon /eBay, largely consumer-based marketplace space, if we’re generalising.

The Alibaba offering will be integrated with Coupa from a search perspective so clients can access Alibaba from within the Coupa environment.  The announcement says, “In addition to the over 1,000,000 suppliers currently using Coupa, the agreement provides Coupa customers with an easy way to find and source from suppliers on Alibaba.com. Coupa customers will have immediate, easy access to millions of additional global suppliers from Alibaba.com while Alibaba.com suppliers will have additional reach into Coupa customers headquartered in over 40 countries.”

There is a question around just how much large Western organisations use and are likely to use Alibaba, so an immediate growth in Alibaba usage in the West may not be the major outcome here.  (My colleague Jason Busch believes Alibaba overstate their importance to western buyers when they promote their site to Chinese suppliers). The long-term importance to Coupa may therefore turn out to be more about opening up the potential for the firm in China and related markets where Alibaba are huge players.

And if this is all sounding a little déjà vu, it is because this seems not a million miles away from the recent announcement of the link-up between Procserve, the UK based e-marketplace business, and the mighty Amazon. And we suspect that for most users in the US and Europe, they would rather be able to access Amazon than Alibaba.

So the other longer term interest will be to see if Coupa go further down the route of these third party links, and indeed whether a Coupa / Amazon tie up is on the agenda at some stage.  But in the meantime, Procserve must also feel pleased that their strategy has been echoed by a firm of Coupa’s market standing.

(There’s a more detailed analysis here for PRO subscribers).

 

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