IMC Newsdesk

Alibaba digital freight marketplace launches in USA

  • June 16, 2020
  • Steve Rogerson

Chinese ecommerce company Alibaba is introducing a logistics service powered by digital freight marketplace Freightos so US small-and-medium-sized businesses (SMBs) can seamlessly arrange their bulk shipments.
 
Alibaba.com Freight modernises a historically analogue and slow process for cross-border logistics by giving SMBs the ability to compare, book, manage and track ocean and air freight in real time. The step-by-step process allows SMBs to source effectively and efficiently overseas.
 
As well as Alibaba.com Freight, the company is also announcing Alibaba.com Payment Terms to provide cash flow control and Alibaba.com Online Trade Shows USA to connect US manufacturers and wholesalers with business buyers in an engaging and live online format.
 
“Doing business online is the bridge for American small businesses through this crisis and into the next decade,” said John Caplan, president of North America and Europe for Alibaba.com. “We are accelerating our transformation to get both sellers and buyers quickly set up for success and provide the critical tools and services that are required for growth – access to supply and demand, shipping and logistics, and working capital. Ultimately, our goal is to give SMBs even greater access to the $23.9tn global B2B ecommerce opportunity, which is six times the size of the B2C ecommerce market.”
 
Maintaining cash flow and ensuring cash on hand have become even more critical for SMBs during the Covid-19 pandemic. Alibaba.com Payment Terms is a trade financing offering embedded directly into a cross-border B2B ecommerce marketplace, allowing qualified buyers to order goods and pay for them up to 60 days after they are shipped. Before this, the vast majority of cross-border trade between small businesses required full payment upfront. Small businesses could not benefit from the global supply chain financing programmes that their larger competitors frequently enjoyed.
 
Alibaba.com Payment Terms, offered in collaboration with MSTS, addresses this problem and gives qualified SMBs an additional way to stay competitive by helping to alleviate cash flow pressures.
 
“We typically pay our suppliers upfront, which ties our cash up in inventory costs and keeps us from planning very far ahead and investing in our business,” said Necia Boston, founder of North Carolina-based Baabs Beauty, a makeup and beauty products retailer. “With Alibaba.com Payment Terms, we’ll be able to keep our costs competitive with larger beauty brands, plan for our future product lines and stock up far in advance of the back to school and holiday seasons.”
 
Payment Terms joins Alibaba.com’s suite of financial offerings that provide business buyers the ability to preserve cash for longer while funding their inventory costs.
 
“While SMBs often have difficulty getting trade financing from banks, Alibaba.com’s Payment Terms provides the working capital they need to fuel their growth,” said Caplan. “This is possible for Alibaba.com because we know the buyers and sellers on our platform, and financing is offered for transactions that we know are real. This is a truly game-changing innovation that opens new opportunities for America’s small businesses. I can’t wait to see our customers benefit from it.”
 
With an average order size of $2000, Alibaba.com shipments involve containers and pallets, not parcels and envelopes. The newly launched Alibaba.com Freight, powered by digital freight marketplace Freightos, helps SMBs simplify arranging their bulk shipments with the ability to compare, book, manage and track ocean and air freight instantly in real time online, effectively modernising the analogue, opaque and historically slow process for arranging cross-border logistics.
 
“Alibaba.com Freight’s extremely friendly user-interface takes what is usually a daunting and extremely complicated task, and turns it into a simple, concise step-by-step process without allowing you to make any mistakes before you move on to the next step,” said Casey Heim, founder and CEO of Kansas-based Wake 10, a manufacturer and seller of equipment in the wake-surfing and boating industry and early user of Alibaba.com Freight. “Alibaba.com Freight has helped us continue to source from overseas and expand our product line even during this global crisis, and we are set to launch four new products for the summer.”
 
According to Alibaba research, trade shows have historically been the most important way for sellers to meet and acquire customers, and business buyers have benefited by using them to explore new products and suppliers. Covid-19 has drastically limited this critical channel for trade. In response, Alibaba.com is launching Online Trade Shows USA, a series of category-specific, live-streaming experiences designed to convene quality buyers and sellers to meet and transact in real time over a pre-determined period of days. These events showcasing US-based manufacturers and wholesalers are part of Alibaba.com’s global online trade show initiative of over 20 shows in the next 120 days to bring the world’s SMBs together over virtual show floors. 
 
These digital-first events have agendas full of keynotes from industry leaders as well as US suppliers promoting their products to a select audience of verified business buyers. US-based manufacturers and wholesalers are able to showcase their stories, capabilities and products as a way to promote their business, meet prospects and drive sales during this transition to digital-first trade. Buyers who attend the events can interact and ask questions of the suppliers, schedule one-on-one sessions and place orders through the platform.
 
“With the disruption of Covid-19, the next era in global trade starts today, from home and online,” said Caplan. “The grit, resilience and needs of American small businesses who face extraordinary challenges right now have inspired and motivate us to re-imagine the trade show experience for our customers. Alibaba.com Online Trade Shows USA will showcase the innovative products and capabilities of US small businesses and connect them to our rapidly expanding community of more than ten million global buyers.”
 
The first live event exclusively designed to showcase American businesses will run from July 7-10, 2020 with the supplements and nutrition category. Alibaba.com is hosting the event in partnership with the USA CBD Expo, the nation’s largest CBD industry event, and the United Natural Products Alliance (Unpa). The event will feature daily sessions designed to facilitate meaningful connections between business buyers and US-based manufacturers, wholesalers, raw ingredient suppliers and brands in the supplements, nutrition and CBD category who offer finished and customisable products.
 
Sellers interested in being featured can apply online and buyers interested in joining the online event can register online.
 
Additional US shows will take place over the coming months for various categories, including food and beverage, agriculture, and beauty and personal care, with more on the way.
 
Alibaba.com – initially an online catalogue – was the original Alibaba business launched in 1999. It catapulted the global sourcing and supply chain industries into the internet-era. The platform opened to American sellers in July 2019, and the USA has since been the fastest growing market for new sellers and buyers.