Alibaba.com Forms Partnership with Office Depot Targeting U.S. Small Businesses

The two companies said they would first work to introduce small businesses in the U.S. to Alibaba.com, Alibaba’s business-to-business (B2B) marketplace.

Author: Lucas Hahn   

Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. (NYSE: BABA) gained nearly 2 percent on Monday as the company announced a partnership with Office Depot Inc. (Nasdaq: ODP) targeting small businesses in the U.S.

The deal could boost cross-border e-commerce, and it comes amid reports that the U.S.-China trade war could be winding down.

"Leveraging Office Depot's trusted brand, local presence, and national distribution network with Alibaba's global supplier network and well-known capabilities in serving SMBs, U.S. businesses can now access a wide array of products and services through Office Depot and Alibaba.com's collaboration, which will empower them to compete and thrive," said Office Depot CEO Gerry Smith.

The two companies said they would first work to introduce small businesses in the U.S. to Alibaba.com, Alibaba's business-to-business (B2B) marketplace. Office Depot has opened an online store on Alibaba.com, and small businesses can receive up to $2,000 in discounts from Office Depot if they purchase $200 or more on Alibaba.com.

The two companies said they would also provide customer support and marketing for this new venture. Alibaba.com will promote the partnership at its March Expo. Office Depot will advertise it in stores, on its website, and using offline channels such as flyers and television.

Additionally, Alibaba.com and Office Depot will work together on delivery with the goal of helping U.S. small businesses sell their products both nationwide and around the world. According to the company's statement, Office Depot can reach almost 99 percent of U.S. businesses within 24 hours.

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"We want to be an ally to all businesses, from SMBs to traditional wholesalers that serve SMBs. We believe our collaboration with Office Depot has great potential to be a catalyst for their growth and a competitive edge in the market," said John Caplan, Alibaba's head of North American B2B e-commerce.  

Alibaba has partnered with U.S. brands before, but most of these deals have involved Alibaba's Tmall platform, which helps brands like Nike sell to Chinese consumers. This deal involves Alibaba.com, which sells to businesses.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Monday that the U.S. and China were "on the cusp" of a trade deal. Because of the the trade war, Alibaba founder Jack Ma said in September that he had withdrawn his offer to create 1 million U.S. jobs.  

Alibaba stock closed at $187.25 today in New York. Shares in the company are up more than 28 percent year-to-date.

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