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Alibaba.com: Ecosystem marketplace designed for SMB (Overview & Analysis)

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Businessman Jack Ma had a vision to use technology to democratize global trade. Alibaba.com was born 21 years ago, and for the first 17 years, it was a way to source from China or find OEM companies, contractors, etc. Basically, it was a directory of Chinese OEM capability

But the vision was always for Alibaba.com to be beyond just a Chinese business directory. Since 2017, two transformations have been underway in earnest:

Transform the platform beyond Online Directory. By going beyond an electronic directory and allowing the buyer to communicate specs, draft contracts, communicate directly, pay through the platform, access order protection and trade financing, procure freight and inspection services, Alibaba has truly made this an ecosystem for sourcing. Move away from more Asia-focused supply base and diversify. The vast majority of suppliers are based in Asia. Food & Ag is a hot category in the U.S. Alibaba wants to diversify product selection on the platform, with a focus on OEM and original design manufacturer capabilities, as well as agriculture and wholesale. Target markets are Europe and the U.S.

Alibaba says it has over 15 million active buyers globally and has recently announced the launch of three new products in the U.S. market to help accelerate the digitization of SMBs during COVID-19. Alibaba unveiled in June 2020 three new products and services to help businesses source and sell online. The products and services include Alibaba.com Freight to enable American SMBs to secure ocean and air shipping for their orders, Alibaba.com Payment Terms to provide deferred payment on purchases, and Online Trade Shows USA to connect U.S. manufacturers and wholesalers with business buyers in an engaging, live online format.

This Spend Matters PRO analysis provides an introduction to Alibaba.com, and how small and large buyers can benefit, particularly as they look to have other options beyond Amazon.