Alibaba.com has launched a new initiative to scale up global recruitment and training efforts for businesses in the wake of Covid-19. Dubbed “Project Sprout Up,” the program will see the B2B trade platform double down on efforts to help connect sellers with business opportunities beyond their home countries and provide direct assistance to boost their online trade capabilities.
The project is part of Alibaba Group’s ongoing Spring Thunder initiative, which launched in April to help small and medium-sized enterprises stay afloat during the coronavirus outbreak. The project rolled out its first phase of support earlier this month in Singapore, Korea, Italy, Russia, Indonesia and Vietnam.
Zhang Kuo, general manager of Alibaba.com, said the project is designed to help SMEs hit by ongoing disruptions caused by the novel coronavirus. As offline business operations continue to be impacted, Zhang said it has become essential for B2B companies to consider using e-commerce to gain international customers, increase production and diversify income streams.
According to Alibaba.com, Project Sprout Up provides support by shortening onboarding time on the e-commerce platform, creating new business leads and offering more training to B2B companies. Alibaba.com said it would also lower the barriers of entry – for example, through reduced membership fees – so that global SMEs are able to quickly and easily set up shop and start building their e-commerce presence.
In Singapore, for instance, SMEs can go through Alibaba.com’s local channel partner to apply for a one-time 70% subsidy on a solution package that offers the platform’s paid annual membership and accompanying services such as set-up support and consultation.
“The climate of uncertainty will continue for some time as Covid-19 continues to disrupt economies worldwide. It is important for SMEs to take action now and develop different channels to strengthen their resilience to disruptions in demand,” said Lee Yee Fung, director of ICM and digitization of Enterprise Singapore, the government agency working with Alibaba.com’s local channel partner to fund the solution package. “SMEs should capitalize on the various support initiatives to develop new customers and markets through cross-border trade and e-commerce during this crucial recovery phase.”
As part of Project Sprout Up, Alibaba.com is also offering an array of AI-backed digital tools for sellers to unlock global business opportunities. For newly registered users, the platform will allocate more marketing and promotional resources to help increase exposure. Supplier members at all stages of growth can further target and advertise to new customers using Alibaba.com’s smart keyword advertising tool. Furthermore, the platform will use AI algorithms to accurately match suppliers with inquiries to help businesses rapidly expand their customer base.
To help merchants stay prepared for shifting trends in global trade, Alibaba.com is working with its local channel partners to provide free seller support across different international markets. These include hands-on assistance to help business owners set up their accounts and product listings; webinars to facilitate knowledge-sharing among the local seller community; as well as expert talks on online buyer behavior, business negotiations and marketing.
“In these uncertain times, we hope to help more SMEs move from recovery to tangible, sustained growth by looking at other pockets of demand elsewhere in the world,” said Zhang.
Sign up for our newsletter to receive the latest Alibaba updates in your inbox every week.