Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holdings Ltd will now allow small businesses in the United States to sell on Alibaba.com, the company said on Tuesday, an effort to tap into the business-to-business e-commerce market and fend off fierce competition from rivals like Amazon.com Inc.
Previously, US-based businesses were only able to buy items on Alibaba.com.
Roughly one-third of buyers on Alibaba.com are US-based. More than 95% of sellers come from China. This plan will open up markets to US merchants in countries including India, Brazil and Canada. US merchants will also be able to sell to other US-based businesses.
Alibaba’s pitch to US small businesses comes as the company faces lean e-commerce revenue growth, which has been further threatened by the US-China trade spat and increased competition from rivals such as recently listed Pinduoduo Inc.
Alibaba, which does not sell inventory of its own, hopes to win over local US businesses as their marketplace platform of choice by offering small- and medium-sized businesses global selling power. Alibaba highlighted its interest in winning over manufacturers, wholesalers and distributors.
Last month, the company launched an English-language website for its Tmall Global marketplace aimed at merchants, in an attempt to double the number of international brands on the platform to 40,000 in the next three years.
Rival Amazon, in addition to selling its own inventory, allows third-party vendors to list products for sale on its website. Those vendors may store their products in Amazon’s warehouses or ship directly to customers.