Alibaba.com has announced the results of its Alibaba.com US B2B Small and Medium Business (SMB) Survey. The company has also launched a new Digitisation Sprint for US SMB manufacturers. A traditional analogue segment of SMBs that has been digitising at twice the rate of other industries during the pandemic. The new sprint has been designed to support manufacturers as they accelerate their digitisation.
Following its inaugural survey in January 2020, Alibaba.com conducted a second survey of 5,015 US B2B SMBs with
- SMBs accelerated their pivot to digital: 93% of B2B companies are now conducting some portion of their business online. This is up from 90% in December, and 43% are utilising 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. This is up from 59% in December.
- SMB manufacturers surpassed other industries in digitisation: amid the pandemic, manufacturers’ online B2B trade increased 8%. This was twice the rate of the overall 4% increase in all industries for the same period. It also tied with retail as the industries with the most digital growth. In December, US manufacturers’ online B2B trade volume lagged all other industries except construction but have now passed multiple industries in their pivot to digital.
Increasing digitisation of US B2B
“We were happy to see the increasing digitisation of US B2B companies. 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 at Alibaba.com. “Our research finds that digitisation is no longer a nice-to-have. It is a must-have for companies in every industry to bridge from surviving to thriving in the next era of business.”
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.
Digitisation sprint for US manufacturers
US 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 Digitisation Sprint for US Manufacturers. With the tagline “Let’s Get Digital,” the programme is designed to accelerate the digitisation of these businesses’ online marketing, selling and sourcing and ensure their long-term success.
The programme 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. “US manufacturers have huge potential to grow their online business and emerge from this pandemic better positioned for the future.”
Alibaba.com’s first-ever Digitisation Sprint will give manufacturers the curriculum, coaching, and community needed to accelerate their digital skills. It will put them in a better position to access the $23.9 trillion global B2B ecommerce opportunity.”
Through the programme, 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 marketplace structure. Pricing dynamics to learning tangible skills like leveraging digital advertising to generate leads. Taking quality photos for product listings and digital storefronts and leveraging social media to build brand and reach new customers.
- Coaching on succeeding in the digital economy during weekly modules. Tailored sessions for manufacturers from partners and experts in eCommerce like the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce and the Brooklyn Navy Yard.
- Community through a private LinkedIn group and roundtable discussions with experts and peers for ongoing education and shared experience.
The Alibaba.com Digitisation Sprint for US Manufacturers builds on the recent Alibaba.com U.S. Online Trade Shows. The event featured US manufacturers and private label producers in specific industries exhibiting products and capabilities virtually to thousands of business buyers.
Enterprise Times: What this means for business
Small and Medium sized businesses throughout the US and across the globe have had to reinvented themselves during this pandemic. They have had to adopt social distancing and remote working, quickly embrace kerbsite pickup or click and collect. Many enterprises have had to upending their traditional business models through the rapid adoption and integration of technology. Alibaba.com has been busy in the US small business sector. Last year, the company bought a number of brands that share a passion for supporting SMBs, including major US businesses. The company announced significant changes to its B2B ecosystem aimed for small business. The Alibaba.com survey indicates SMBs are optimistic about business. Eighty-five percent saying they are confident about the future of their business. It would be interesting, to see what a similar survey would indicate about confidence among European SMB businesses.