Alibaba may have started off as a modest B2B company in 1999, but today, the international commerce company’s claims to fame includes a U.S. IPO that exceeds Google, Facebook and Twitter combined, and more than $7.6 billion in revenue for Q4 of 2016.
Alibaba can be a great channel by which to break into international markets and expand your global presence. Getting started is easy, but to make the most of your Alibaba engagement and see a boost to your bottom line, there are a few things to keep in mind as you register, set up and maintain your account.
If you’re interested in selling your products on Alibaba, here’s a quick walkthrough of what you’ll need to get started.
1. Register for Your Account
First, you’ll need to sign up for an Alibaba account. Registering for an account is pretty straightforward, and all you’ll need is a valid email address, your name and the name, location, and phone number of your company. At this time, you’ll also have the opportunity to choose the type of account you’d like: a seller account, buyer account or a hybrid of both.
2. Establish Your Company Profile
After verifying your account via email, you’ll need to set up your company profile, also known as your company page. Keep in mind that this is the information that potential buyers (or sellers, if you’re interested in becoming a buyer as well) will see, and so you’ll want to be as thorough as possible.
Generally speaking, you’ll need to include the following information:
- Type of business
- Products you plan to sell
- Company size
- Target markets (where you hope to sell your product(s)/service(s)
A thorough profile will instill confidence in potential partners, and taking the time to provide accurate information when you set up your profile can go a long way in securing future business.
Want to increase buyer confidence? Consider adding any product test results or certifications that you may have achieved. These can bode well for EU standards, which are typically stringent, and can place your product ahead of others, particularly when safety standards are part of the buying decision.
3. List Your Products
Obviously, to sell your products on Alibaba, you’ll need to list them, and similar to providing complete business information, you’ll also want to provide detailed descriptions and images of the products you choose to list. By providing accurate and thorough descriptions, you can increase product reach and attract potential buyers
While the product listing itself is important, the amount of products you list can also play a vital role in your success as an Alibaba seller. If your product page only includes 5-10 products, your page will appear empty or incomplete. Furthermore, the more products you have, the more likely you are to show up in product search results, which translates to more exposure and a higher chance at securing partners.
4. Be a Quality Communicator
If you haven’t noticed yet, in many ways, perception is key to success. Creating a sense of integrity and confidence with regards to your brand is essential to maximizing any Alibaba partnerships. And while a stellar company page and detailed product descriptions can go a long way, they don’t always close the deal.
As a seller in an international space, it’s important that you respond and communicate with potential and existing buyers, maintaining healthy relationships that can grow your business. To help you do this, Alibaba provides a message center to manage communications. You can also install TradeManager, which is the Alibaba chat platform that lets you engage in real time with other Alibaba users.
5. Consider a Gold Membership
It’s free to join Alibaba, but for those interested in really harnessing everything it has to offers, especially the customer base and site functionality, a Gold Membership may be worth considering. Currently, there are three different Gold Membership Levels: Basic, Standard and Premium.
Each of these levels offer members their own custom webpage; priority rankings in their search results; unlimited product postings (free memberships cap at 50); and the ability to quote buying requests. Additionally, each level has access to product showcases, which according to Alibaba, can translate into 100 times more product views.
As one might expect, Premium members receive preferential treatment and reap the benefits of 1st ranked product placements, 28 product showcases (Standard and Basic members receive 12 and 5, respectively), and they even receive their own personalized customer service.
6. Take Advantage of Alibaba Resources
Alibaba has a plethora of educational and training resources that can help business owners make the most of the tools and functionalities that they provide. From the basics of foreign trade and industry analysis to e-commerce and Alibaba basics, users who did into their learning center are bound to find information that can aid in increasing profits.
If you’re interested in expanding your market or taking advantage of international sales opportunities, Alibaba can give your company the opportunity to do just that. Be sure to take the time to set up your account the right way and to use the tools and resources made available if you want to make the most of your role as an Alibaba seller.
This article was originally written on July 25, 2017 and updated on December 14, 2017.