Chinese multinational e-commerce giant Alibaba and American office supply retailer Office Depot are partnering on a strategic collaboration to help small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) grow by utilizing B2B e-commerce marketplaces. The U.S. International Trade Commission recently valued the global B2B e-commerce marketplace at $23.9 trillion.
Office Depot has deep relationships with more than 10 million U.S. business customers and it has a dedicated sales force of about 1,800 sales professionals. And it has a marketing demand engine that drives more than 450 million combined store, mobile, and website visits per year. Plus Office Depot runs 1,350 Office Depot and OfficeMax retail locations. And Alibaba will bring its global network of more than 150,000 suppliers, a vast catalog of product listings, manufacturing capabilities, and an end-to-end technology platform that provides SMBs with tools and services for growing their businesses.
A single destination is being created where users can access one of the world’s largest catalogs of goods and services across all product categories. The new portal is called “Office Depot on Alibaba.com” and it is available at www.alibaba.com/officedepot. And Office Depot’s sales force is reaching out to a number of relevant SMBs to create awareness of this new service. Plus Alibaba.com’s U.S.-based team is also working with Office Depot’s customer support staff to provide U.S. business customers with local support and a direct line to sourcing experts.
“As a trusted partner to millions of businesses, our customers tell us they want more choice in the market and need an expanded set of products and services to help their businesses grow. We believe our collaboration with Alibaba.com is exactly what they are asking for,” said Office Depot chief executive Gerry Smith. “Leveraging Office Depot’s trusted brand, local presence, and national supply chain distribution network with Alibaba’s global supplier network and well-known capabilities in serving SMBs, U.S. businesses can now access a wide array of products and services through Office Depot and Alibaba.com’s collaboration, which will empower them to compete and thrive. Through this initial phase of work together with Alibaba.com, we intend to grow our collaboration in ways that will drive even greater value and choice for our current and future customers.”
Some of the other initiatives that the companies are focused on include marketing initiatives to build an understanding of the value and opportunity created for SMB customers through this collaboration. Office Depot is leveraging 33 years of experience in serving SMBs and using both online and offline marketing. And Alibaba.com is going to promote the platform at the March Expo, which is a month-long online promotional event that helps SMBs discover new products, services, and business opportunities on Alibaba.com.
“American SMBs – who account for 99.7% of all companies in the United States – need more ways to grow and compete in today’s economy and take advantage of the enormous opportunity in B2B e-commerce. Since our founding, Alibaba’s mission has been to make it easy to do business anywhere,” added Alibaba Group’s head of North America B2B John Caplan. “With Office Depot, we will be able to offer SMBs more choice, greater access, and further opportunities to grow. We’ll accomplish this by leveraging Office Depot’s local relationships, capabilities, and expertise alongside Alibaba’s global platform, technologies, and proven marketplace model. Together, we see great opportunities to empower our customers and help them tap into the $23.9 trillion global B2B e-commerce market.”
Office Depot and Alibaba.com plan to expand their collaboration to develop faster and cost-effective distribution and fulfillment. And the companies will significantly improve the cross-border distribution and fulfillment they can offer U.S. SMBs. This will shorten delivery times by connecting Alibaba’s global logistics capabilities with Office Depot’s integrated B2B supply chain and distribution network of more than 9 million square feet of distribution and fulfillment capacity and more than 1,000 private fleet trucks.