Founded in 1999 as the first business of Alibaba Group, Alibaba.com is a leading wholesale marketplace for global trade committed to facilitating ‘Global Buy, Global Sell.’ Through the platform, millions of buyers and sellers across 200 countries and regions – trade agents, wholesalers, retailers, SMEs – can trade in over 40 major categories ranging from raw materials to component parts and even finished goods.
Alibaba.com established its India operations in 2008 and has since served millions of buyers and sellers. According to an analysis by the group, India ranks second in the top-20 buyer distribution list and first in the top-10 global seller distribution. Currently, Alibaba.com operates with a global network of 150 million registered members, connecting Indian SMEs with buyers across the world.
Alibaba plans to expand its Indian merchant-user base and create a powerful local e-commerce ecosystem for SMEs. The focus on B2B in India is for businesses from India to do more for themselves outside of the local market.As a part of a deepening commitment towards India and in line with its partnership approach, the B2B platform, Alibaba.com, has introduced a successful reseller strategy in the country. By working with resellers, it’s localising its approach in the Indian market. The brand believes that by going through resellers, it will be able to tap their resources, networks and knowledge in order to more, effi ciently and serve a burgeoning Indian SME community.
Its key focus is to introduce Indian merchants to the world, starting with China and then Southeast Asia. It is bringing products from Indian SMEs and brands on its platform to consumers not only in India but in China and then SE Asia. In a freewheeling chat with IMAGES Retail, Denny Wang, Regional Director, B2B Business, South Asia, Alibaba.com explains how Alibaba is helping retailers in India grow.
The Indian e-commerce market is dominated by players like Amazon and Flipkart. What steps is Alibaba taking get a sizeable share of the Indian market pie?
Alibaba.com is the world’s leading B2B e-commerce platform. In line with the vision of the group ‘to make it easy to do business anywhere’, our proposition is to enable local enterprises –especially SMEs – to reach global buyers through the platform. Today, we are present in over 200 countries and regions with more than 150 million registered users and over 10 million active buyers. The platform has over 5,900 product categories ranging from consumer electronics to machinery, food & beverages, jewellery and apparel.
Apart from enabling local businesses to reach out to global audiences, we drive local initiatives to increase competitiveness of our members. These programs, apart from educating merchants about the platform’s proposition, give them insights into the industry, buyer trends, etc. enabling them to take their businesses to global audiences by leveraging the power of digital economy.
What are the criteria for selecting retailers?
Alibaba.com is open to all, whether they are manufacturers, trading companies, wholesalers, entrepreneurs or MNCs.
We do not set out any specific criteria for selection. Whether businesses can make good use of the platform is dependent on their mindset, manufacturing or trading abilities and export readiness.
What strategies is Alibaba adopting to promote Indian retailers on a global scale?
Our objective is to empower Indian SMEs broaden their markets globally to do business. Connecting local businesses to the largest section of buyers globally is truly our value proposition and we work towards creating an ecosystem that can help these SMEs handle various aspects of participating in global markets and doing the business with ease. We have various channel partners in the market, who besides onboarding the sellers also work with them on how best to leverage the platform and do business. We also regularly conduct workshops and training programs for our sellers that can aid them in better understanding of the potential of e-commerce, engaging with international buyers, and more.
Share some case studies of Indian retailers who have grown globally with Alibaba’s assistance.
While there are various cases of successful merchants from India on the platform, we have identified the Gems & Jewellery sector as a strong growth segment. Some interesting case studies that have emerged in this sector on the platform are:
DVN Traders: The Mumbai-based company has been in operation since 1975, but it was only in 2006 that it ventured into the export market and boomed–the key to this was e-commerce. Alibaba.com has helped the company grow their business from one factory to seven factories and expanded its customer network to cover the USA, Europe and Australia.
Shri Ashapura Jewelers: Having registered with Alibaba.com in 2014, the company from Jaipur is now running a 100 percent export business with the help of the platform. What started as a small startup is now the largest exporters of silver jewellery having a customer base in over 40 countries across the world.
Rana Silver & Arts: Founded in 2002, the company from Jaipur has been doing well in the domestic market until Alibaba. com showed them the way to reach a global audience. Today 80-90 percent of Rana Silver & Arts’ export business comes from Alibaba.com.
Lavie International Inc.: The Jaipur-based Company manufactures and exports a wide range of (around 925) silver jewellery and is one of the fastest growing exporters of gems. With the help of Alibaba.com, they are able to supply their products to over 15 countries across the globe including Spain, Hong Kong, Russia, France, Germany etc. and have seen a 40 percent business growth last year.
What benefits do retailers get working with Alibaba?
There’s a three-fold value proposition:
Business Opportunities – Organisations can establish a verified online presence to work with potential partners. They then gain access to a variety of tools and channels that match buyers and sellers including the ability to facilitate direct communication anytime and anywhere.
Transactions and Fulfilment – To facilitate online trade, the platform has a range of payments and logistics services making it easier to partake in cross-border trade. In addition, there are inspection services provided to give buyers peace of mind as the transactions progress. Finally, there are export services that include customs clearance, foreign exchange, tax refund, and trade financing made available to eligible suppliers which lower their barriers to trade through the platform.
Business Management – The platform provides analytics tools that allow sellers to track their sales performance, industry trends, and consumer behavior so they can formulate and implement the right strategy.
Elaborate on the services that Alibaba is offering retailers?
There are a variety of services that we as a platform off er to the sellers today. Through Alibaba.com, sellers can establish a verified online presence to work with potential partners. They then gain access to a variety of tools and channels that match buyers and sellers including the ability to facilitate direct communication anytime and anywhere.
A unique real-time translation function is provided supporting multiple languages that allows buyers and suppliers to chat online in their own languages. The platform also provides analytics tools that allow for sellers to track their sales performance, industry trends, and consumer behavior so they can formulate and implement the right strategy.
For buyers, the platform offers a range of payments and logistics services for transactions with qualified suppliers, making it easier to partake in cross-border trade. We also off er an image-based search function that allows buyers to snap or upload a photo of a product they like and use that picture to instantly find similar products ready to be sourced on Alibaba. com. The platform has a digital feature that brings updates about the latest trade shows from around the world and highlights exhibitors from Alibaba.com.
Which category (apparel, beauty, food etc.) you are focusing on and why?
While there is a variety of products listed from India, keeping in mind the biggest buyer trends we have chosen to focus on Gems and jewellery and textiles and apparel as priority categories for the market.
Both these sectors have had a strong export focus and we have seen a huge demand for these categories emerging from various regions across the world.
Highlight some features on the platform for buyers and sellers.
Real-time Translation: Real-time translation function supporting multiple languages that allows buyers and suppliers to chat online in their own languages.
Source Now: An image-based search function that allows buyers to snap or upload a photo of a product they like and use that picture to instantly find similar products ready to be sourced on Alibaba. com.
Trade Shows: A digital feature that brings updates about the latest trade shows from around the world and highlights exhibitors from Alibaba.com.
Global Logistics: Transparent and competitively priced cross-border logistics solutions with online shipment tracking and guaranteed service delivery.
Pay Later: A small-loan program that allows eligible buyers to finance their orders for up to six months.