You might not be in the market for mass quantities of biodegradable flower pots or fly masks for horses, but chances are there's someone out there who is. Both are for sale-along with hydraulic briquette presses and canned sweet corn in bulk-on Alibaba.com.
Never heard of Alibaba?
The Chinese e-commerce site has sometimes been likened to eBay, with a distinct focus on serving the nation's small- and medium-sized enterprises. (Alibaba also has a store on eBay.) Since it was founded a decade ago the Alibaba Group has operated two sites: an international site in English-Alibaba.com, and one in Chinese-Alibaba.cn. As of March, the Chinese site had 32 million registered users, four times as many as the international site.
But the English-language site contributes the lion's share of revenue -more than 63 percent, or $84.2m, in the most recent quarter.
To raise further awareness of the English-language version of Alibaba, the company this week launched a $30m marketing campaign, encouraging small business owners to connect with wholesale suppliers through their online marketplace.
And while the marketing drive is billed as a global initiative, the $439m-a-year Alibaba Group clearly has its hopes set on penetrating the vast U.S. small business community.
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