Alibaba's U.S. Expansion Aims to Benefit Small Retailers

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Alibaba, the largest e-commerce operation in China, has made its second U.S. acquisition in as many months. Both are part of an ambitious expansion of Alibaba’s e-commerce marketplace, AliExpress.com, and both should create new opportunities for smaller American merchants.

AliExpress is designed to help smaller online retailers source their products directly from suppliers, and the acquisition of e-commerce software developer Auctiva will expand Alibaba’s overseas presence while helping to achieve that goal. Auctiva makes auction management, listing and marketing software and provides image hosting and storefronts for merchants selling on sites such as eBay. The company already has more than 170,000 active users of its online sales tools for small businesses, which will now have a new line of access to sourcing their products from suppliers via Alibaba’s e-commerce resources. Alibaba will integrate Auctiva’s platform with AliExpress, and merchants will also be able to list their products on eBay.

The deal, of which financial terms were not disclosed, is part of a $100 million initiative to extend the global reach of Alibaba’s successful business-to-business model. At the end of June, Alibaba purchased U.S. e-commerce site Vendio, another company focused on helping merchants manage their sales. The two acquisitions will bring more than 250,000 new customers into Alibaba’s fold, the company said, and more acquisitions are forthcoming.

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