Alibaba faces consumer barriers, expands Alipay partnership

Alibaba's IPO may have been the largest in U.S. market history, but the online retailer's introduction to U.S. shoppers hasn't gone over quite as big.

A recent Bizrate Insight Report found that of more than 3,500 online shoppers in the United States, 35 percent reported they would not browse or buy from Alibaba. Specifically, younger and female shoppers were least likely to be familiar with the Chinese brand. Sixty-three percent of shoppers overall were not familiar with Alibaba.

Of note, according to the study, is that once shoppers try Alibaba, they are likely to return. Roughly 65 percent of shoppers who had heard of Alibaba were likely to browse or purchase from it, and 11 percent reported having already interacted with Alibaba in the past. Of those who previously interacted, 80 percent were likely to do so again once the company is fully launched in the United States.

But there is a lingering sense of uncertainty, even distrust among shoppers, particularly fear of compromising personal or payment information, and a stated preference for American-made products.

"Alibaba could pave the way for more Chinese e-commerce companies to gain a customer base in the United States," Hayley Silver, VP, Bizrate Insights, told BizReport. "But it will be an immediate challenge for the company to overcome its lack of name recognition among U.S. shoppers and to reassure them that their transactions and information will be safe and secure."

To that end, Alibaba is building out a program with Alipay, the former Alibaba subsidiary and payment service similar to eBay. Alipay is used by roughly 300 million Chinese consumers to pay for online goods.

A new partnership, Alipay ePass, promises to streamline the buying experience for U.S. retailers looking to sell on the Chinese marketplace by addressing common issues including currency exchange, customs and shipping logistics, reported Upstart.

Alibaba also announced a new partnership with Bigcommerce to provide merchants with greater global access to products and services. As part of the partnership, Alibaba.com will integrate its buyer and supplier network with Bigcommerce's ecommerce platform.

The move is meant to assist sellers with establishing a drop-ship supplier or wholesaler relationship.

"We are partnering with Bigcommerce to make it easy for our customers to do business anywhere in the world," said Michael Lee, director of global marketing and business development at Alibaba.com. "Alibaba.com and Bigcommerce together are building an integrated ecommerce ecosystem and helping to introduce more small and medium-sized merchants and online stores to the global market."

Alibaba went public in the U.S. market in September at a record $68 a share.

For more:
- See this Bigcommerce press release
- See this Upstart article
- See this Re/code article
- See this BizReport article

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