As far as online B2B marketplaces go, Alibaba.com is one of the largest and most popular. Owned by Alibaba Group, Alibaba.com has operations in more than 200 countries and territories worldwide. AliExpress is another popular e-commerce platform in the group, although its focus is on B2C sales.
With its global reputation as a trusted source of reliable suppliers and manufacturers, millions of buyers flock to Alibaba.com monthly, making the platform highly attractive to global sellers.
If you’re considering opening an Alibaba.com storefront, this article explains how to get started. We’ll share step-by-step information on how to create a profile, post products, and start selling. In addition, we’ll explain all you should know about creating all-star product pages.
But first, how does joining an online marketplace benefit your e-commerce business?
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It’s quite simple, really: online marketplaces give growing businesses the exposure and support they need to scale profitably.
As a business owner, you know how hard it can be to attract customers and attain good sales as a startup. Likewise, business can get tricky for established companies when fresh prospects are hard to find. Besides, overhead expenses such as rent, marketing, inventory, and shipping often eat into profit margins, making business harder.
But online marketplaces help relieve these challenges by taking on some of the burdens. They provide support for numerous vital business services, from marketing and lead generation, to shipping and fulfilment. With this help, your business enjoys a leaner and more optimized operation, allowing you to do more with less.
Plus, the best marketplaces are really good at what they do. They have massive budgets that provide only the best services, including advertising, web and mobile platforms, and logistics.
Unsurprisingly, businesses enjoy immense value from this arrangement. According to research, online marketplaces bring value in excess of $145 billion to SMEs annually.
Here are some more reasons why it’s a good idea to sell on an e-commerce marketplace:
Next up is how to get started with Alibaba.com.
Alibaba.com was designed to be user-friendly and straightforward, so using the platform’s end-to-end bulk-selling service is relatively easy. Nevertheless, it pays to learn how the process works so you can plan before starting. Here’s how to get your products on Alibaba.com.
Your Alibaba journey starts with creating an account. You can open two main types of accounts on the platform: a seller or buyer account. Think about when you might need to operate a buyer account, such as purchasing production components from the platform. If you want to maintain both buyer and seller accounts, you can also choose this option.
Your next step will be to register your seller account. Depending on your business location, Alibaba.com has different selling packages you may choose from. Decide which one meets your needs, and then follow the prompts to complete your registration.
Note that you will need to provide some basic information to conclude the process. That includes your business information, such as company name and contact details. The platform will also ask you to provide personal information, including your name and contact details.
The registration process includes a Business Verification stage as well. Business Verification is a critical part of the registration process because it’s how Alibaba.com tells that your business is authentic and in operation. As part of the process, the platform will confirm the status of your company and the identity of your authorized contact person. With your business verified, it’s easier for buyers to trust you as a reliable supplier.
Lastly, you have the option of choosing an account manager who will support you throughout your Alibaba.com journey.
Unlike major online marketplaces such as Etsy, eBay, and Amazon, Alibaba.com caters primarily to wholesalers and bulk buyers. So, there’s a broader category of products you can post on your storefront, from chemicals to clothing and hardware. If you’re not sure of what to sell, read our article on how to find B2B products for great product ideas and niches to explore.
If you have a clear direction on your Alibaba products, you should move on to posting. You can post your merchandise individually or use the bulk upload tool for a faster process. Be sure to include sufficient information about your product listings though. Customers want to see product quality info, pricing, shipment fees, minimum order quantities, payment methods, etc. With detailed product info, negotiations can become shorter and smoother.
Important tip: Be sure to upload your entire product catalog to the platform and tag the product categories properly. Having more goods makes it likelier that your listing will show up in buyer searches. And that potentially rewards your store with better exposure and more customers.
As you upload your stock, also begin the process of optimizing your listings. Alibaba.com includes an Intelligent Posting System that uses AI to optimize your product uploads. The tool will advise you on how best to tweak your listings so customers can better find your store.
Your Alibaba.com storefront is your window to the world. It’s a powerful asset that helps you penetrate new markets and place your business on a global stage. Anyone from around the world can see your brand and interact with your store in 18 auto-translated languages.
And you know the best thing about setting up your storefront? It’s entirely codeless. You don’t need to write a line of code or possess any design skills to get started. Follow the easy steps the platform will show you, and that’s it.
Through the process, you’ll get a multi-page storefront that you can organize to your satisfaction. It’s your chance to create an original digital identity and compelling sales proposition, so your store stands out to customers.
Are you a trading company, retailer, or manufacturing company? Also, include a company profile on your storefront so customers can quickly learn about your business, your product portfolio, and how they can engage with your online business.
If you have any questions about the process or need some help setting up, your account manager can provide the support you need.
After uploading your product listings, you will start receiving inquiries from potential buyers. The B2B buying process is well-known for its lengthy nature. Typically, six to ten people are involved in the process on the buyer’s end, and they will all want to have their say.  So, prepare for some back and forth.
Provide sufficient information, so buyers know exactly what to expect. For example, your prospects will likely want to discuss pricing, custom products, how you handle shipping, and if you can provide a quotation.
Payment security is also a big conversation you should prepare for. Customers typically ask about available payment methods, such as whether you accept credit cards for purchases, wire transfers, credit notes, etc.
Reply to all inquiries promptly and thoroughly. Customers like early responses from potential suppliers — it tells them you take your business and their needs seriously. Besides, your response rate can affect how many sales you get. Research shows that inquiries that receive a response within four hours produce 30% more follow-up responses.
You will usually receive customer inquiries through Alibaba Chat. In addition, tools like the My Alibaba seller workbench and AliSupplier mobile app will help you stay on top of these inquiries, even when you’re on the go.
Finally, protect your customers and business by activating Trade Assurance on your seller account. Transacting internationally is already tricky enough without the risk of unreliable third-party payment providers and escrow services. Trade Assurance makes it easier for buyers to trust your business.
Trade Assurance is Alibaba.com’s order protection and payment security service. The service gives sellers and buyers a secure payment platform. It also monitors orders throughout the shipping process, so they arrive correctly and on time. Trade Assurance also provides impartial mediation for a swift settlement where there are disputes over the order.
Customers who see the Trade Assurance tag on your storefront will know that they can trust your business to deliver. In addition, it helps you conclude orders faster and keeps all of your payment and order information in one accessible location.
With this final step in the process, you’re all set to go live with your Alibaba.com storefront!
Alibaba.com buyer searches operate much like Google search results — the more optimized your product page is, the better your chances of a favorable search ranking. That’s why it pays to invest some time in optimizing your stock listing.
Optimizing product pages means tweaking them to encourage more sales. Product pages that aren’t converting visitors simply are not doing their work. The following tips can help you learn how to improve your product pages.
A quick way to enhance your stock listings is to show potential buyers your quality. You can do this by providing information about the quality of your product components, your quality control process, etc.
Another way to do this is by entering the Alibaba.com Gold Supplier program. Gold Suppliers are companies committed to providing only high-quality products and services. It is an exclusive group of Alibaba suppliers, manufacturers, and resellers who have been vetted and proved to have high quality standards.
Customers who see the Gold Supplier label know that they will get quality from you, and that might be all the motivation they need to click on your listing instead of a rival’s.
Images are the first, and sometimes the only way buyers see your merchandise before starting a conversation. Therefore, you want to create a good impression, which starts with using high-quality images.
Pay a professional photographer to take images of your goods. You can also use a good-quality phone camera to take pictures and edit them professionally. Don’t make the photos too large, though. This way, they can load quickly, no matter the buyer’s internet service speed.
After a prospect clicks on your listing, they want to learn about your product next. Unfortunately, here’s where many e-commerce stores falter. They provide dull and unoriginal product information that has hidden all the critical details down the page.
Elevate your product pages by using brief but helpful information instead. It’s a good idea to start with a summary of your product features and specifications. Then, describe your product’s benefits to the end-user and include FAQs that answer all the obvious questions.
Important tip: Make your pricing, shipping, and payment information bold and easily accessible.
Social proof is a powerful sales tool. Things like reviews, ratings, and testimonials are significant factors in purchasing decisions, and they can help you sell more. According to research, 82% of people look for reviews and online ratings before making a first purchase. 
Thankfully, Alibaba.com seller pages provide sections for buyer reviews so your prospects can see your track record. Add to this by encouraging satisfied buyers to give reviews so others can learn how reliable your business is.
One crucial SEO step is optimizing your product pages with the right keywords. Like Google searches, buyers use specific terms when they want to find certain products. For instance, a buyer may type “blue jeans for women” in a product search.
If you include this term in your product page title and throughout the page, it’s more likely that your page will appear in a search for the term. You can learn more about SEO and keywords in our guide on using SEO for e-commerce stores.
Read our guide on optimizing product pages if you’d like to get more tips about creating all-star product pages.
And that’s the end of this guide. Now, you know all you need to open an Alibaba.com account, post your product catalog, and start selling on your global digital storefront.
Take the next step by connecting with an Alibaba.com professional to advise you on how to start selling on the world’s largest B2B marketplace today!