Alibaba and Office Depot agree US strategic partnership

Alibaba and Office Depot have announced a strategic partnership aimed at changing the way US small businesses operate.

Initially the two companies will offer a co-branded online B2B destination that will makes it easier for its US clients to “one of the world’s largest catalogues of goods and manufacturing capabilities.” There will be exclusive discounts to some of the most essential products and services for small and medium businesses. The plan is for Alibaba and Office Depot to extend their services to include logistics and sales channels in the near future.

“Leveraging Office Depot’s trusted brand, local presence, and national distribution network with Alibaba’s global supplier network and well-known capabilities in serving SMBs, U.S. businesses can now access a wide array of products and services through Office Depot and Alibaba.com’s collaboration, which will empower them to compete and thrive,” Office Depot CEO Gerry Smith said.

The tie-in brings together Office Depot’s more than 10 million U.S. business customers, about an 1,800-person salesforce, a supply-chain network that can reach nearly 99% of U.S. businesses with next-day delivery and about 1,350 retail locations. Alibaba.com offers a global network of over 150,000 suppliers, a large catalog of product listings and manufacturing capabilities, as well as an online platform that offers end-to-end services that range from sourcing to logistics and payments to U.S. businesses.

After the initial launch, the companies intend to add cross-border and local logistics services that combine Alibaba.com’s global logistics capabilities with Office Depot’s national distribution and fulfilment capability, which can reach nearly 99% of US businesses with 24 hours. Office Depot’s supply-chain network includes a more than 1,000 private fleet trucks, 9 million square feet of distribution and fulfilment capacity, around 1,350 retail locations and dozens of third-party logistics partners, they said. Eventually, they aim to help U.S. SMBs, including Office Depot’s business customers, sell their products to buyers in the U.S. and around the world through Alibaba.com.

When asked about the future and implications for their respective industries, Caplan said, “Our mission is to make it easier to do business anywhere. We want to be an ally to all businesses, from SMBs to traditional wholesalers that serve SMBs.  We believe our collaboration with Office Depot has great potential to be a catalyst for their growth and a competitive edge in the market, through digital transformation and fully leveraging the impressive assets they have assembled. This effort has the potential to create a new model for the entire industry. It’s time to start building bridges, not moats.”

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