Alibaba partners with Office Depot in SME focus

Alibaba’s business to business trading platform has entered into a partnership with US office supply retailer, Office Depot.
6 March 2019 | 592 Shares

Office Depot standard shipping box. Source: Shutterstock

In a classic ‘East meets West’ narrative, Alibaba has entered into a partnership with Office Depot, and over 10 million of its US business consumers will now have access to over 150,000 suppliers that offer next-day delivery in Alibaba’s global network.

The US International Trade Commission values the global B2B sales opportunity for US entrepreneurs and SMBs at around US$ 23.9 trillion. It’s a strategic collaboration that provides US businesses access to Alibaba.com’s global supplier network and exclusive offers on Office Depot’s best products and services.

To start with, the collaboration will focus on three key areas. Firstly, a new online destination (www.alibaba.com/officedepot) will give US SMBs access to Alibaba’s products.

Secondly, Office Depot will leverage its relationships with US SMEs to promote the tie-in and the goods and services it is providing, while Alibaba’s U.S. based teams will provide customer support.

Thirdly, both companies are making an investment in marketing to help US SMEs understand and benefit from the collaboration.

Currently, Office Depot has a 1,000-strong fleet of trucks at over 1,350 retail locations in the US, with dozens of third-party logistics partners and nine million square feet of distribution and fulfillment capacity.

Future collaborations between the companies are expected to make the distribution network more transparent, speedier and more cost-effective in the long term. Creating new sales channels for US SMEs is also on the cards, as manufacturers can go to Alibaba.com to sell their products to buyers in the US and around the world too.

“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,” Office Depot CEO, Gerry Smith, said.

“If you’re a business in Detroit, we can help you reach customers in Los Angeles or New York or Miami, reach customers in Mexico City or Toronto or, frankly, around the world because ours is a global platform with both global supply and global demand,” said John Caplan, head of North America B2B at Alibaba Group.

Caplan emphasized that US SMEs need more ways to grow and compete in today’s economy while taking advantage of the significant opportunity in B2B e-commerce.

“We can accelerate the ability of a small business to in fact operate like a multinational company. That’s very powerful,” he said.

When asked about the future and implications for their respective industries, Caplan said, “Our mission is to make it easier to do business anywhere.”

Caplan added that Alibaba wants to be an ally to all businesses, from SMEs to traditional wholesalers that serve them.

“This effort has the potential to create a new model for the entire industry. It’s time to start building bridges, not moats,” he concluded.