Alibaba Group and Office Depot have entered a strategic collaboration aimed at better serving U.S. SMBs. The partnership will combine Office Depot’s extensive U.S. supply chain with Alibaba’s global network of 150,000+ suppliers, its catalog of product listings and manufacturing capabilities, to create a premier destination for B2B solutions and services.
The retailers’ combined offerings are available through Office Depot on Alibaba.com, which provides exclusive online and in-store offers for Office Depot products and services.
Initially, the retailers will focus on educating SMBs about the benefits of the partnership and supporting them as they begin working with Alibaba’s supplier network. Once the alliance has been established, the retailers will work to improve the speed, transparency and cost of distribution and fulfillment options, and develop a new sales channel to help small retailers reach potential shoppers through alibaba.com.
“With Office Depot, we will be able to offer SMBs more choice, greater access, and further opportunities to grow,” said John Caplan, Head of North America B2B at Alibaba Group in a statement. “We’ll accomplish this by leveraging Office Depot’s local relationships, capabilities, and expertise alongside Alibaba’s global platform, technologies, and proven marketplace model. Together, we see great opportunities to empower our customers and help them tap into the $23.9 trillion global B2B e-Commerce market.”
Office Depot has been growing its B2B portfolio through other deals as well. The retailer made moves in this direction at the close of 2017 with its acquisition of CompuCom, an IT services provider, and the launch of BizBox, a site without Office Depot branding that offers marketing and operations solutions for small business owners and entrepreneurs.
For Alibaba, the alliance further expands its presence outside of China. The retail giant already has a connection to U.S. SMBs through the Taobao Global U.S. Merchants Network, which launched in July 2017. The network connects retailers to Chinese shoppers and provides training and support for participating vendors.
The e-Commerce giant has a history of partnering with other retailers . In December 2018, Alibaba partnered with Spanish retailer El Corte Inglés in a joint effort to complement each other’s logistics expertise. The alliance spans retail, payments, cloud computing and the entire Alibaba New Retail initiative.