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Alibaba ‘Made in the USA’ Trade Show Brings Local Suppliers to Global Buyers

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Alibaba has been looking to make inroads in the West, and its latest project is helping the e-commerce giant do just that by bringing a global audience to more U.S. businesses.

The Chinese company is hosting its first-ever Global Products Expo, featuring a “Made in the USA” event, through Feb. 21. The two-week virtual expo, which launched on Monday, is designed to help hundreds of U.S. brands, manufacturers, wholesalers and distributors connect with millions of global buyers while in-person trade shows and expos are still either on ice or limited to small crowds.

“Because of this rapid pivot, the Alibaba.com team is working day in and day out on our vision and mission to make it easy to do business anywhere, especially in the U.S.,” said Erica Chan, head of brand, experience and insights, B2B North America at Alibaba.com. “With this in mind, Made in the USA’s goal is to help U.S. small- and medium-sized business—the backbone of our economy—tap into global demand and grow on their own terms.”

At the event, attending buyers from the U.S. and around the world will be able to view virtual factory and facility tours, watch product demos, and engage in one-on-one interactions with the more than 150 U.S. sellers on the platform.

“Being ‘Made in the USA’ carries cachet globally and domestically in many verticals, especially in fashion,” Chan told Sourcing Journal. “As companies everywhere look to build more resilient supply chains and find new, innovative products to sell, the Expo is designed to introduce U.S.-based private-label apparel manufacturers to the massive global Alibaba.com buyer base.”

Within the portal, buyers 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 garden, supplements and nutrition, and home and garden.

“The Made in the USA expo provides buyers with the ability to access and reach quality U.S.-based suppliers in one place,” Chan said. “On Alibaba.com, buyers can look up suppliers anywhere in the world—both near and far—communicate with them directly, issue a request for quotations, draft product specs and contracts, arrange for inspections, customs clearance and shipping, find financing options and pay for the products all on one platform. This seamless interaction enables buyers in the expo to virtually view factory and facility tours, watch product demos, and have meaningful one-on-one interactions with participating U.S. sellers.”

This is the fourth iteration of Alibaba’s series of U.S. Online Trade Shows, which have been designed to help U.S. SMBs reach thousands of buyers and an audience of more than one million viewers each day. The first three trade shows were broken up based by category, focusing on supplements and nutrition, food and beverage and beauty and personal care.

Unlike those shows, which typically showcased 40 to 50 U.S. suppliers and more than 5,000 business buyers, the Made in the USA event is designed to be much bigger—in the vein of CES or the National Retail Federation Big Show—with more than 150 U.S. sellers.

Since the Global Product Expo link is featured directly at the top of the Alibaba.com homepage, which the company says reaches millions of daily visitors and hundreds of thousands of daily active buyers, the audience size of buyers and attendees alike is expected to far surpass the totals at the previous U.S. online trade shows.

The overall Global Product Expo, as the name entails, is actually part of a much wider push to showcase small businesses worldwide. Other events that are accessible within the online portal include 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 products from other suppliers.

As part of Alibaba’s push in the U.S., the Chinese e-commerce giant has made it a point to be a champion of small businesses, particularly on the manufacturing side. In October, the company launched a “Digitization Sprint” for U.S. SMB manufacturers in an effort to help these businesses with their online marketing, selling and sourcing capabilities. Alibaba is even offering the sprint to qualified manufacturers that employ fewer than 500 staff at no cost.

While manufacturers often lag in technology adoption, an Alibaba study accompanying the sprint launch showed that SMB manufacturers are surpassing other industries when it comes to digitization.

In fact, amid the pandemic, U.S. manufacturers that sell B2B online increased eight percentage points year over year to 41 percent, twice the rate of the overall four percentage-point increase in all industries for the same period and tied with retail as the industries with the greatest digital growth.

Alibaba also launched freight and payment terms services last year to help U.S. small businesses digitally optimize during the Covid-19 crisis.

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