Organizations still have a long way to go to to fully integrate the social web to connect to their customers. Here are some great examples, curated by Hult International Business School and Center for Innovation, Excellence and Leadership (IXL Center). Their book Connectivate! is a collection real world stories from 54 innovative companies whose breakthroughs are changing the world.
By leveraging today’s confluence of technological and analytical breakthroughs, these companies connect people, businesses, governments and entities in novel and meaningful ways, capturing win-win propositions on the value chain. These companies have created a new economic context, increasingly accessible in a space-time singularity called Always Available.
Real world stories about innovators and innovative companies are an important way to learn, and we place high value on them at Innovation Excellence. The first case study in our Connectivate! series is:
Access manufacturers from anywhere, and distribute products everywhere
WHO NEEDS IT?
Importers and exporters looking to do domestic trade in China, international trade, or a transaction-based wholesale platform geared for smaller buyers seeking fast shipment of small quantities of goods. Small and mid-sized companies who need larger orders or highly customized goods and are looking to build and expand their business.
WHAT IS THE CONNECTIVATION?
Alibaba.com is a global online trade platform for small businesses, buyers and suppliers on almost all types of products or services. Initially focused on China, Alibaba.com not only expanded its connection between Chinese suppliers and international traders, but also amongst other traders worldwide. Alibaba.com empowers small businesses to access this network of B2B traders which was previously dominated by big trading companies.
WHAT WAS THERE BEFORE?
In traditional B2B trading, importers and exporters build relationships through face-to-face meetings which can be time-consuming and can limit access for better options. The import and export industry is dominated by big trading companies which becomes a challenge for small businesses to get enter.
As of 2011, Alibaba.com has more than 65 million registered users in more than 240 countries and regions, with a daily average of concurrent users reaching more than 4 million. Alibaba’s strong influence can be seen as its combined trading statistics is used to predict China’s domestic trade and export volumes in the next three to six months!
By using the Internet to streamline the process, we have created a global marketplace for small and mid-sized companies to do business-to-business international and domestic trading.
· Changing Lifestyles: China’s rapid integration into the global economy has brought one-fifth of the global population into the world trading system thus becoming the manufacturer of the world. Large number of low-cost producers and suppliers were entering China while buyers from all over the world lined up to profit from low wages and manufacturing costs.
· Access to Information: Through Alibaba’s online platform, businesses are able to access other companies’ information even if they are a million miles apart.
BASIC HUMAN NEEDS
· Convenience: Buyers are constantly looking for ways to expand its business while suppliers are looking for new clients. Alibaba.com makes it easy for small businesses to find the best buyers and/or suppliers with whom to do business around the world.
· Maximizing Wealth: Given that the internet is growing and international trade increasing, more and more businesses are going online and looking for ways to grow their business.
WHY THEY ARE WINNING
As the first mover, Alibaba was able to establish a global reputation as a major player in bringing buyers and suppliers together in cyberspace by creating a critical mass that makes it difficult for competitors to copy.
· Middleman: Alibaba functions as a middleman for suppliers from all over the world to find appropriate buyers and vice versa. Fees are charged for performing services for the suppliers.
· Trust Pass: Gold Supplier members increase buyer’s confidence. Eighty-five percent of buyers prefer to do business with verified suppliers. Suppliers from China are required to be a Gold Supplier.
Alibaba has a network of over 65 million registered global users. It has a Trade Alert feature that delivers personalized trade offers and opportunities through email. Online payments are done through Alipay.
Alibaba.com is a B2B e-Commerce site that facilitates a 24/7 meeting platform for suppliers and buyers around the world to sell and purchase goods. Suppliers can increase buyer confidence with a verified company profile.
Registered members go online to post or see the listings and make purchases. Buyers can post buying leads while suppliers can post up to 50 products online for free. Suppliers are responsible for delivering items sold.
Small-to-midsized companies and suppliers in China looking to do international or domestic trade in China or Japan. Small buyers looking to buy small quantities of goods at wholesale prices.
Partners include channel sales partners, trade associations, trade shows, third-party trade service providers, credit card and financial service companies and logistic and freight forwarding service companies.
Dr. Hitendra Patel, Ronald Jonash, Steve Wyatt and Victor Fernandes are co-authors of Connectivate! Companies Innovating in New Ways to be Always Available and members of leadership and the team at IXL CENTER, the Center for Innovation, Excellence & Leadership at Hult International Business School.