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Alibaba.com U.S. B2B SMB Survey Finds Rapid Digitization Among B2B Businesses, Especially Manufacturers

Alibaba.com second survey of B2B companies find an accelerating pivot to digital

With U.S. manufacturers digitizing at twice the rate of other businesses, Alibaba.com unveils Digitization Sprint for U.S. SMB Manufacturers

Alibaba.com, the B2B business unit of Alibaba Group, announced the results of its Alibaba.com U.S. B2B Small and Medium Business (SMB) Survey and launched a new Digitization Sprint for U.S. SMB manufacturers – a traditionally analog segment of SMBs that has been digitizing at twice the rate of other industries during the pandemic – to support manufacturers as they accelerate their digitization.

Following its inaugural survey, which was disseminated in January 2020, Alibaba.com conducted a second survey of 5,015 U.S. B2B SMBs with the following key findings:

  • SMBs accelerated their pivot to digital: 93% of B2B companies are now conducting some portion of their business online, up from 90% in December, and 43% are utilizing ecommerce, an 8% increase over the same time period.
  • SMBs are finding opportunities internationally: even with supply chain disruptions during the pandemic, 63% of B2B companies report conducting some amount of cross border B2B trade, up from 59% in December.
  • SMB manufacturers surpassed other industries in digitization: amid the pandemic, manufacturers’ online B2B trade increased 8% – twice the rate of the overall 4% increase in all industries for the same period and tied with retail as the industries with the most digital growth. In December, U.S. manufacturers’ online B2B trade volume lagged all other industries except construction but have now passed multiple industries in their pivot to digital.

“We were happy to see the increasing digitization of US B2B companies and that many are increasing trade despite the pandemic, showing the resilience and grit of American business owners and entrepreneurs,” said John Caplan, President of North America and Europe of Alibaba.com. “Our research finds that digitization is no longer a nice-to-have, but a must-have for companies in every industry to bridge from surviving to thriving in the next era of business.”

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Enter Alibaba.com’s Digitization Sprint for U.S. Manufacturers

According to IBISWorld, there are 565,537 manufacturing businesses in the U.S. According to SCORE, the leading organization focused on mentoring U.S. small businesses, 98.6% of American manufacturing companies are small businesses, and three-quarters (75.3%) of those businesses have fewer than 20 employees.

U.S. manufacturers are well known for their technologically advanced production capabilities, but until recently, they have been slower than other industries to adopt online sourcing and selling tools according to Alibaba.com’s survey. With manufacturers now rapidly turning to digital channels, Alibaba.com is launching its Digitization Sprint for U.S. Manufacturers. With the tagline “Let’s Get Digital,” the program is designed to accelerate the digitization of these businesses’ online marketing, selling and sourcing and ensure their long-term success. The program is being offered to qualified manufacturers at no cost. The Alibaba.com team is bringing together experts and their ecosystem of collaborators, including the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce, Brooklyn Navy Yard and manufacturing eCommerce expert Curt Anderson, to give manufacturers a four-week masterclass in getting digital and going global.

“We were delighted to see in our research that manufacturing businesses are catching on and looking for ways to ride new waves of digital opportunity,” said Caplan. “U.S. manufacturers have huge potential to grow their online business and emerge from this pandemic better positioned for the future. Our first-ever Digitization Sprint will give manufacturers the curriculum, coaching, and community they need to accelerate their digital skills and access the $23.9 trillion global B2B ecommerce opportunity.”

Through the program, select manufacturing companies will gain access to:

  • Curriculum from Alibaba.com’s team, industry leaders and partners on topics ranging from understanding the fundamentals of ecommerce like marketplace structure and pricing dynamics to learning tangible skills like leveraging digital advertising to generate leads, taking quality photos for product listings and digital storefronts and even leveraging social media to build their brand and reach new customers.
  • Coaching on succeeding in the digital economy during weekly modules and during tailored sessions from partners and experts in ecommerce for manufacturers like the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce, Brooklyn Navy Yard and ecommerce consultant, Curt Anderson.
  • Community through a private LinkedIn group and roundtable discussions with experts and peers for ongoing education and shared experience.

The Alibaba.com Digitization Sprint for U.S. Manufacturers builds on the recent Alibaba.com U.S. Online Trade Shows, which have featured U.S. manufacturers and private label producers in specific industries exhibiting their products and capabilities virtually to thousands of business buyers. The next show focused on Beauty and Personal Care kicks off today at 1pm ET and will feature all private label U.S. manufacturers.

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What Alibaba.com Digitization Sprint Partners are Saying:

  • Randy Peers, President & CEO of the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce: “Small and Medium sized businesses throughout Brooklyn have reinvented themselves during this pandemic, upending their traditional business models through the adoption and integration of technology. These businesses have demonstrated creativity and resiliency, and the changes they have adopted will position them well for a post-COVID economy.”
  • Johanna Greenbaum, Chief Development Officer at the Brooklyn Navy Yard: “We have some of the country’s most creative manufacturers successfully launching innovative products from the Navy Yard. But, success in manufacturing doesn’t always mean success in digital marketing and sales – the Digitization Sprint curriculum is exactly what many of our companies need for growth.”
  • Curt Anderson, ecommerce for manufacturing expert and founder of B2Btail.com: “Amid all the disruption of 2020, manufacturers increasingly see the power of ecommerce as a channel for reaching new markets and growing their company. The Digitization Sprint will give industrial entrepreneurs a step-by-step curriculum for making ecommerce work hard for their business.”

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