Alibaba has been trying to gain a foothold in the West, and its latest venture is helping the e-commerce giant do just that by bringing more U.S. businesses closer to global audiences.
The Chinese company is holding its very first Global Products Expo with a “Made in the USA” event until February 21st. The two-week virtual expo, which kicked off Monday, is set to help hundreds of U.S. brands and manufacturers, wholesalers and distributors connect with millions of global buyers, while in-person trade shows and exhibitions are still restricted to either ice or small crowds.
“With this rapid development, the Alibaba.com team works day in and day out on our vision and mission to make doing business easy everywhere, especially the US,” said Erica Chan, Head of Brand, Experience and Insights, B2B North America on Alibaba .com. With this in mind, Made in the USA’s goal is to help small and medium-sized businesses in the US – the backbone of our economy – meet global demand and grow on their own terms. “
At the event, participating buyers from the US and around the world can view virtual factory and factory tours, view product demos, and have one-on-one interactions with the 150+ US sellers on the platform.
“To be made in the USA carries a seal of approval in many industries worldwide and nationally, especially in fashion,” Chan told Sourcing Journal. “As companies everywhere seek to build more resilient supply chains and find new, innovative products to sell, the expo is designed to introduce US-based private label apparel makers to Alibaba.com’s massive global buyer base.”
Within the portal, shoppers can view products from more than 10 different categories, including apparel and jewelry, health, electronics, food and beverage, beauty and personal care, industrial use, sports and gardening, nutritional supplements and nutrition, and home and garden.
“The Made in the USA Expo gives shoppers the opportunity to access and contact high quality US suppliers in one place,” said Chan. “On Alibaba.com, buyers anywhere in the world can find suppliers – near and far – directly communicate with them, request quotes, draft product specifications and contracts, arrange inspections, customs clearance and shipping, find financing options and pay for all products on one platform. This seamless interaction enables buyers at the show to virtually tour factory and factory tours, view product demos and have meaningful one-on-one interactions with participating US sellers. “
This is the fourth iteration of Alibaba’s series of US online trade shows designed to help US SMBs reach thousands of buyers and an audience of over a million viewers a day. The first three shows were organized by category and focused on Dietary Supplements and Nutrition, Food and Beverage, and Beauty and Personal Care.
In contrast to these shows, which typically featured 40 to 50 US suppliers and more than 5,000 business buyers, the Made in the USA event is much larger – in the style of the CES or the National Retail Federation Big Show – at more than 150 US dollar seller.
Since the link to the Global Product Expo appears right at the top of the Alibaba.com home page, which the company claims reaches millions of daily visitors and hundreds of thousands of daily active shoppers, the audience size of buyers and attendees alike is expected to far exceed the totals of the previous US online trade fairs.
The global Global Product Expo, as the name suggests, is part of a much broader attempt to showcase small businesses around the world. Other events accessible via the online portal are Made in China, Made in Europe, Made in Malaysia, Made in Japan, Made in Korea, Made in India, Italian Products Collection, Made in Turkey, Made in Pakistan, Made in Vietnam and made in Asia. There are also “Products for You” and “Global Sources” sections that host third-party products.
As part of Alibaba’s push in the US, the Chinese e-commerce giant has set itself the goal of being a pioneer for small businesses, especially on the manufacturing side. In October, the company started a “digitalization sprint” for US SME manufacturers to support these companies with their online marketing, sales and procurement opportunities. Alibaba even offers the Sprint to qualified manufacturers with fewer than 500 employees for free.
While manufacturers often lag behind in terms of technology acceptance, an Alibaba study that accompanied the Sprint launch showed that SME manufacturers outperform other industries in terms of digitization.
In fact, U.S. manufacturers selling B2B online rose eight percentage points year-on-year to 41 percent amid the pandemic, twice as fast as the total increase of four percentage points across all industries over the same period and tying in with retail as the industries that do greatest digital growth.
Alibaba also introduced freight and payment terms last year to help US small businesses digitally optimize during the Covid-19 crisis.