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Alibaba Makes Moves to Mobilize US Small Businesses

One of the world’s largest e-commerce operations has come stateside. And in a bid to entice 30 million U.S. small and medium-sized businesses, Alibaba has announced a new program to help them access new business-to-business opportunities on its massive marketplace.

The Chinese-owned online giant is working to position U.S. wholesalers, manufacturers and distributors for success by facilitating B2B relationships with some of the site’s most successful sellers. According to the company, the $23.9 trillion global B2B e-commerce market represents ample opportunity for U.S. SMBs, as it’s six times larger than the global B2C e-commerce market.

To encourage the program’s success, Alibaba has cultivated an “enhanced ecosystem of participants” including “anchor sellers” with a vested interest in pulling products from SMBs. These include major U.S. retailers like Office Depot and Robinson Fresh, a subsidiary of C.H. Robinson. Both companies have extensive product catalogs, and are still looking to expand their range of offerings given Alibaba’s massive audience. In the company’s estimation, new buyers will flock to the platform as product selection continues to grow.

Other business service providers who have signed on to help SMBs include 71lbs, BigCommerce, Indeed, ShipStation, Skuvault, TeamViewer, Wellbots and Xometry. Alibaba said these businesses would be promoting site member-exclusive offers, discounts and premium content in an effort to position SMBs for success.

Alibaba is also co-producing a suite of “Build Up” workshops and webinars in cooperation with local chambers of commerce and country-wide B2B organizations to help educate newcomers to the platform. Score, a non-profit network of volunteer business mentors, will provide education assistance.

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The company’s first Build Up event will be held on Tuesday in Brooklyn at Industry City, which houses a number of industrial and manufacturing businesses. The meet-up will be co-hosted by the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce and Industry City, and along with a workshop attendees will also be invited to receive one-on-one training and consultations with Alibaba experts. Newcomers will receive discounts and incentives from the brands and organizations in attendance.

A second Build Up event will be held on Friday in Los Angeles, to be co-hosted by the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce at California Market Center. And on July 30, the organization has planned an event in Chicago with the city’s Chamber of Commerce at M Hub. Additional in-person events will be announced throughout the year, and Score is slated to take part in a number of them, Alibaba said.

“Alibaba aims to empower entrepreneurs and help them succeed on their own terms,” said John Caplan, Alibaba’s head of North America B2B. “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 U.S. SMB companies to compete and succeed in today’s global marketplace.”