How B2B ecommerce platform Alibaba.com helps small businesses in India export to over 190 countries

Alibaba.com is now aiming to bring products by Indian gems and jewellery companies to its customer base of 10 million active buyers and 150 million registered members.
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Alibaba Group's co-founder and executive chairman Jack Ma has an inspiring entrepreneurial journey which is well-documented by many. With a strong focus on boosting entrepreneurship and small businesses in China, Alibaba Group and its global B2B ecommerce platform Alibaba.com has scaled seemingly-impossible heights.

The company said recently that the Gross Merchandise Value (GMV) transacted on Alibaba’s Chinese ecommerce marketplaces stood at $853 billion for fiscal year 2019, representing a year-over-year growth of 19 percent.

In comparison, India’s top ecommerce players Amazon India and Flipkart’s total GMV stood at $7.5 billion and $6.2 billion, respectively, as of November 2018.

Now, Alibaba.com is bringing its expertise with Chinese and global markets to India. This is in line with the country’s swelling internet user base, which presents a big opportunity for MSMEs to tap into ecommerce and sell their products online.

In its drive to enable Indian MSMEs to participate in ecommerce on a global scale, Alibaba.com has identified gems and jewellery exports as a strong growth segment. The company says it is now planning to focus on building a large merchant base on the platform from this cluster.

“In India, our core proposition revolves around recruiting merchants onto the platform through our channel partner network. With demand for gems and jewellery products coming from various regions, especially Hong Kong, UAE, and the USA, we want to build our merchant base to deliver on this growing demand,”  says Denny Wang, Regional Director, Global B2B Business, South Asia, Alibaba.com.

Indian success stories

Alibaba Group’s foray into India is representative of Jack Ma’s and his co-founders’ belief in the internet enabling small businesses to leverage innovation and technology to grow and compete more effectively in domestic and global economies.

Denny adds that Alibaba.com is focussing on empowering these small businesses with knowledge of ecommerce, building an ecosystem to support these merchants, and enabling them to connect to the global markets.

Denny Wang, Regional Director, Global B2B Business South Asia, Alibaba.com

DVN Traders is an example of an Indian businesses which started selling on Alibaba.com and saw great success. The Mumbai-based jewellery brand, which was started in 1975, ventured into exports in 2006 with the help of Alibaba.com.

With a focus on ecommerce and selling internationally, the company grew its business from one to seven factories and also expanded its customer network to the USA, Europe, and Australia.

Shri Ashapura Jewellers from Jaipur followed a similar approach in becoming an export-focussed businesses. Alibaba.com says that the Jaipur company became a large exporter of silver jewellery with customers in 40 countries after it started doing ecommerce on the platform.

Another company from Jaipur which reached a global audience through ecommerce is Rana Silver and Arts, which is now seeing almost 90 percent of its export business coming from Alibaba.com.

Lavie International is another silver jewellery exporter which is supplying its products to over 15 countries, including Spain, Hong Kong, Russia, France, and Germany, with the help of Alibaba.com.

Denny attributes the success of these merchants to the wide reach offered by Alibaba.com.

“We have over 10 million active buyers globally from across 190 countries. We also have 150 million registered members, over 170 million products, and over three lakh active enquiries per day.”

Opportunities for Indian MSMEs

Indian small businesses can leverage Alibaba.com’s extensive reach to establish a verified online presence to work with potential partners. By joining the platform, they gain access to a variety of tools and channels that match buyers and sellers, including the ability to facilitate direct communication anytime and anywhere.

To facilitate online trade, the platform has a range of payments and logistics services. This makes it easier for MSMEs to partake in cross-border trade. Alibaba.com also provides exports services, such as customs clearance, foreign exchange, tax refund, and trade financing.

Further, Alibaba.com provides analytics tools that allow sellers to track their sales performance, industry trends, and consumer behavior.

Denny adds, “We also give priority to creating workshops and training programmes across key markets to train our merchant base. Besides informing them about the proposition of the platform, these programmes also give them insights into the industry, buyer trends, and enable them to leverage the digital economy to take their businesses to global audiences.”

The platform also has a real-time translation function supporting multiple languages that allows buyers and suppliers to chat online in their own languages.

Alibaba.com also features a ‘Source Now’ function, which is an image-based search that allows buyers to snap or upload a photo of a product they like. They can then use that picture to find similar products ready to be sourced on Alibaba.com.

The website also shares updates about the latest trade shows from around the world and highlights exhibitors from Alibaba.com. Further, transparent, cross-border logistics solutions with online shipment tracking and guaranteed service delivery are also made available.

How MSMEs can sell on Alibaba.com

Joining the ecommerce platform

Alibaba.com works on a subscription model in China and all the other markets in which the platform operates in, including India. Similar to other e-commerce platforms, there is an initial subscription fee that needs to be paid by a small business to come on board. Alibaba.com also offers a range of paid packages to the sellers on our platform.

Denny explains, "For example, if you want to do a premium listing or you want to pin a particular product on the homepage, there are certain additional costs that you will need to undertake. These services are aimed at aiding our sellers in terms of creating the best buyer outreach. Depending on their requirements, they can choose to avail the services as and when required."

Building professional presence on the platform

Website templates: 21 easy-to-use templates and eight personalised columns are available for sellers to customise their company websites in a short span of time.

Private showroom: This feature allows sellers to showcase multiple product views of their products to buyers. It supports HTML and table formats, thereby allowing sellers to enhance their product descriptions. It also helps protect the products from imitators.

Authentication and verification: This process helps sellers gain immediate trust with buyers. Up to eight certificates can be uploaded by each seller.

Company videos and photos: Sellers can upload their company videos and photos to enhance their corporate image.

Maximising company exposure

Top tier ranking: The top-tier priority listing in buyers' search results helps buyers see and choose the seller first. Under the same searching criteria, Gold Supplier members’ products will be listed in front of the products of free members.

Product showcase: Sellers can showcase key products on their online storefront to make a powerful, visual impact and get more exposure.

Analysis: Alibaba.com’s Biz Trends tool generates real-time reports of the seller’s performance and provides them with optimisation suggestions to enhance their online exposure and maximise their ROI.

Tradeshow: Alibaba.com participates in over 35 leading international trade shows per year to promote its Gold Supplier members.

Exclusive access to buyers

Sub-account: This feature enables sellers to add up to five stand-alone accounts to their master account. They can also distribute customer inquiries across different accounts and monitor feedback quality to enhance productivity.

Contact Access: Sellers get exclusive access to contact buyers seven days before free members. They also get access to buyers' contact details, including their direct email addresses.

Trade Manager: Sellers get full access to chat with buyers who prefer to deal with verified members only. They can also chat with the buyer’s on a real-time basis in order to close deals faster.

RFQs - Request for Quotattion (RFQ), as high quality buying leads, are made available to verified members.

Dedicated customer care programme

VIP Service: A one-on-one customer service specialist is available to guide customers on how to best use Gold Supplier features and handle inbound customer inquiries in a timely and professional manner.

Customer care: Tracking reports are delivered regularly to keep customers updated and suggestions/solutions are provided to improve their online performance.

Learning center: Customers are provided with online user manuals and training tutorials along with latest news and tips.

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