Some U.S.-based small businesses already have found success selling to other businesses on Alibaba.com.
Absonutrix, a Greensboro, North Carolina-based nutritional supplement company, has been working with Alibaba for three years. While Chinese competitors have similar products listed for one-tenth the price of their supplements, being based in America and offering “Made in USA” supplements have helped their brand stand out on Alibaba.
“We will quote our products one time, and there will be nine Chinese (price) quotations at the same time, but people prefer purchasing ingestible products from the U.S.,” said Absonutrix’s senior sales manager Adam Thomas.
The 10-employee Absonutrix will hit the multimillion-dollar mark in business sales this year. Thomas declined to detail what percentage of his sales comes from Alibaba.
“We have had some large partners materialize from Alibaba—the ones I have dealt with are sitting around the half-million mark,” Thomas said. “But the biggest value is in penetrating new markets. Our company becomes more well-known.”
If a U.S. company is selling something that international consumers don’t readily have access to, that American company naturally will stand out among international competitors, said Kelland Willis, associate analyst at tech research firm Forrester.
“T-shirts, you can purchase in China. But nutritional product demand, for example, is so high right now, so it will naturally generate a lot of interest from customers in China,” Willis said. “If you have a niche product that there is demand for in the market like formula, toothpaste, laundry detergent—consumers will go crazy for it.”
In 2013, Chinese consumers snatched up infant milk powder outside of China.
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And in some cases, just being an American company can help an entrepreneur stand out.
Dollar Days’ Joseph has seen business grow through Alibaba sales for the past four years. Dollar Days boasts some 3.5 million registered users and attracts 1,400 new customers daily globally, with about 100 coming from Alibaba. “With Alibaba being so strong as they are in the Far East, that has helped awareness to small businesses that may be made in, or from, China,” Joseph said.