By Rieva Lesonsky
Post sponsored by Alibaba.com
As many years as I’ve been out of school, September still feels like a time of renewal. An opportunity to start anew, to reinvent some aspect of your life or your business, to refocus on tasks that got forgotten in the heat and lazy days of summer.
This year has been tough for most of the country, with so many of us trying to live and work under safer-at-home policies. It’s been a rough year for retailers, in particular, with so many stores closed for months due to the coronavirus. In fact, eMarketer has adjusted its 2020 retail sales forecast from its original projection of a 2.8% sales increase to $5.6 trillion in total retail sales to a 10.5% sales decline to $4.9 trillion in sales.
But there is a brighter side to that forecast, and it’s e-commerce. Online sales are, according to eMarketer, expected to rise 18% this year to $710 billion. This represents 14.5% of total retail sales, which eMarketer says is “both an all-time high and the biggest share increase in a single year.”
Getting back to business
So, with that encouraging news, let’s get back to business this September. And if you want to increase your chances for success, that means getting back to business online.
Depending on the type of business you own, there are two primary ways to up your e-commerce game: If you’re a wholesaler or small manufacturer, you need buyers to order your goods, and if you’re a retailer/e-tailer, you need sellers (businesses to purchase your merchandise from). Diversifying your supply chain is more important than ever.
Luckily, American small businesses can find both in one place at the new Alibaba.com, one of the world’s largest B2B marketplaces. Since the platform was opened to American sellers in July 2019, the United States has been the fastest-growing market for new buyers and sellers—and just this year alone, 70% more U.S. buyers joined the platform. Overall transactions by U.S. businesses on Alibaba.com increased more than 100%.
To help businesses overcome the challenges of COVID-19, Alibaba.com has made it easier than ever to do business online.
We all know cash flow is literally the lifeline of small businesses. Previously, if you tried to do cross-border trade, you had to pay for your order upfront, a hit to your cash flow. But to help, Alibaba.com is offering Payment Terms, which allows qualified buyers to place orders for merchandise and pay for them up to 60 days after the goods are shipped.
Getting the merchandise to your doors can be particularly challenging for small businesses. Alibaba.com Freight takes a lot of the complexities out of the shipping process, by helping small businesses arrange bulk shipments and giving them the ability to instantly compare, book, manage, and track ocean and air freight in real time online.
One of the biggest challenges for retailers/e-tailers during COVID-19 has been the inability to go to trade shows. Alibaba.com introduced Alibaba.com US Online Trade Shows, which are category-specific virtual events, spread over several days, connecting U.S. manufacturers and wholesalers with business buyers live online.
And since this is the month when many of us are ready to refocus, Alibaba.com is offering some special Super September promotions.
This year more than 30,000 sellers are participating in Super September. You’ll be able to check out merchandise in 3D reality and virtual showrooms and make connections with potential partners from all over the globe.
Some of the special incentives Alibaba.com is offering this month include:
- Discounts on livestream products
- Black Friday group buy discounts
- New buyers can save up to $60 USD on transaction fees
- All buyers can save up to $200 USD on logistics by placing orders through Alibaba.com Freight
- Get 20% off third-party inspection service fees on site
American entrepreneurs are flexible and resilient. Retailers know they need to pivot and concentrate on improving their e-commerce offerings. In this month of renewal, it’s the perfect time to get back in gear and get your business back online so you’re well positioned to finish 2020 on solid footing and head into 2021 primed for an economic recovery.
About the Author
Rieva Lesonsky is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media and custom content company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship. Email Rieva at [email protected], follow her on Twitter.com/Rieva, and visit her website, SmallBizDaily.com, to get the scoop on business trends and sign up for Rieva’s free TrendCast reports.