Global wholesale marketplace Alibaba.com has launched a one-stop online shop in India to provide the country’s small-and medium-sized businesses with access to import-export services including logistics support and financing.
With e-commerce increasingly seen as a fast track to boosting India’s international trade connections, Alibaba.com’s Trade Facilitation Center has been established to encourage greater participation in the global economy by Indian SMEs by offering efficient, direct access to key trading services, said Bhushan Patil, channel director for Alibaba.com in India. “We are trying to build stronger ties between India and other countries,” Patil said.
Alibaba.com, an online marketplace owned by Alibaba Group that matches buyers with suppliers all over the world, has had a presence in India since 2008. The marketplace had 4.46 million registered Indian buyers and sellers at end of 2014.
The India Trade Facilitation Center (TFC), a first for Alibaba.com, is designed so that Indian SMEs can use the marketplace not only to connect with overseas companies, but also to negotiate trade deals, arrange shipping and obtain other trade services through a single platform.
In order to offer SMEs key trading services, Alibaba.com teamed up with local partners ICICI Bank, Indian logistics provider Mypacco.com, and inspection and certification company SGS. Through the TFC, Indian SMEs can get hotline access to Alibaba.com’s partners to obtain a range of import-export services such as: trade financing; foreign-exchange remittances; international shipping; customs clearance; warehousing; credit checks of potential trading partners; factory and product inspections. Partner companies are offering special rates and discounts on some services to TFC users.
Patil said that, in addition to easy access to trade services, the center aims to help SMEs trade efficiently by providing education and help in navigating India’s complex cross-border trading environment. “Even if an SME knows about a specific service, finding the right person who can offer this service is tedious and time consuming,” Patil said. “Alibaba hotlines and service contacts from TFC partners saves this effort.”