Consumers are ready to shop again, and that means retailers and e-tailer shoppers need to discover and stock up on the latest trends.
In the US alone, spending on clothing and shoes rose 8 percent from the previous month in January 2021 after three consecutive months of decline, according to the US Bureau of Economic Analysis. And even if buyers are still working with their current suppliers, there is still a great urgency to find new supplier partners and open new lines of discovery after the pandemic – not always easy when most international travel has been suspended.
A virtual marketplace is crucial here. While some trade events attempted to switch to digital formats during the pandemic, the online B2B marketplace Alibaba.com has always been a key connector in this virtual space. March Expo 2021 – an annual online trading event that brings together millions of buyers and suppliers around the world in over 190 countries and regions – provides solutions for a changing business world. The event features more than 40 main product categories including apparel, accessories and textiles, as well as customizable and ready-to-ship options to meet the growing immediate needs of shoppers. There are also thousands of products and part numbers launched just for March Expo, all of which are available with just a few computer clicks.
“Our saying is global buy, global sell,” said James Spon-Smith, senior product expert at Alibaba.com. “And we want to make it easier for small businesses to do global trade anywhere – without having to travel.”
As you can imagine, a global B2B marketplace like Alibaba.com is on a huge treasure trove of data that it makes available to its participants in order to advance their businesses. For example, the company publishes more than 6,000 data-driven top ranking lists that shoppers can scroll through to find the top selling products that are most relevant to their business.
“We provide industry trends and insights to our customers, particularly on apparel, accessories and textiles,” said Spon-Smith. “These include, for example, trends in industry pricing, marketing skills and key performance indicators. We package these for our business buyers and, in the backend, for our global sellers as well.”
To further simplify searches and help users get the most out of the data, Alibaba.com uses machine learning and artificial intelligence to organize all of the products and SKUs found on the platform so that shoppers only see what is most relevant to them.
However, connecting with suppliers and spending open budgets is only half the battle. As many shoppers have experienced firsthand during the pandemic, getting global goods to the US can often be a logistical challenge, which can be especially intimidating for small and medium-sized businesses. Alibaba.com helps ensure that everything runs smoothly.
“In the past year in particular, two of the biggest challenges for our buyers have been logistical clearance and getting to market quickly,” said Spon-Smith. “We have a number of services to help our buyers overcome these challenges, and during the March Expo we are offering additional benefits on top of those already on the Alibaba.com platform.” These include discounts, cashback, guaranteed delivery, taxes paid, express shipping to over 200 countries, some free customs inquiries and much more.
Just as buyers try to broaden their horizons, so are global suppliers. One category that Alibaba.com is expanding is health and wellness. Harvest SPF, a provider of its carefully vetted Elite Partner Event (EPE) program and maker of copper-infused textiles, has achieved great success with its health benefits and antimicrobial qualities.
“With our unique patented technology, we infuse the copper ions with various types of synthetic or natural fiber materials such as nylon polyester or cotton and obtain a range of practical clothing, accessories and housewares,” said Joy Xu, General Manager of Harvest SPF. “We have made copper-containing T-shirts, boxer shorts, socks that you can wear for days or weeks, and copper-colored jeans that are suitable for people who travel a lot.”
As a small company based in Asia, Harvest SPF does 100 percent of its global business on Alibaba.com, attracts more than 300 new customers annually and processes more than 1,000 orders.
“We never imagined that as a small business, with the support of Alibaba.com, we could grow up so quickly in just a few years,” said Xu.
Click the image above to watch the video where Spon-Smith and Xu explain in more detail how a virtual marketplace connects buyers and sellers in a world where business never slows down.