Alibaba.com is looking to support U.S. small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) with the introduction of new dropshipping services and a $500,000 grants program to help existing eCommerce platforms, the company said in a press release on Thursday (Sept. 9).
John Caplan, president of North America and Europe for Alibaba.com, said the pandemic threw SMBs into a tailspin and triggered a digital-first mindset that required entrepreneurs to quickly acquire “new skills, services and capital.”
The surge in digital transactions prompted many U.S. businesses to seek global eCommerce solutions. Alibaba has seen a 150% increase in business from U.S. firms over the past 18 months, Caplan said.
“This so-far-overlooked group of entrepreneurs is using platforms like Alibaba.com to become more efficient, spend less, travel for business less and worry less, all while selling and achieving more. Our new services, support and grants program all aim to support a new wave of digital entrepreneurs as they set out to reshape their futures,” he added.
Alibaba.com launched its Dropshipping Solutions to help these new digital entrepreneurs get rid of inventory overhead and pilot new products before committing to a big launch, per the press release. The service also provides shipping transparency and customer support. The company is teaming up with dropshipping partners that include Modalyst, Spocket, Syncee and others.
The start of new businesses went up 600,000 from 2019 to 2020, and one-third are merchants without a brick-and-mortar location, according to the National Bureau of Economic Research. Many are emerging digital startups that were able to launch in part due to enhanced online infrastructure and third-party markets.
In support of these newly established SMBs, Alibaba.com is launching a grants program totaling $500,000 in partnership with the small business resource platform Hello Alice. All Alibaba.com accountholders that have an “innovative product idea or go-to-market strategy” are eligible to apply until Oct. 21, according to the release. There will be 50 winners announced in December, each awarded $10,000.