Office Depot Partners With Alibaba To Up Its Game In B2B Sales
Office Depot, which has experienced some difficult patches since the end of the recession — including store closures, like many chains competing with Amazon — is now betting that a partnership with Chinese online giant Alibaba will give it a boost in the business-to-business arena.
The deal includes rolling out a co-branded e-commerce site on Alibaba known as alibaba.com/officedepot. Alibaba will have access to Office Depot’s customer base of about 10 million, as well as its 1,800 sales agents, Reuters reports.
Office Depot customers will have access to Alibaba’s network of over 150,000 suppliers, either to source more product options or to find a manufacturer to produce goods.
The goal of the partnership, according to Office Depot, is to sell to midsize and small businesses.
Office Depot has done well recently selling services to businesses, a revenue stream that is now outpacing the company's traditional retail sales.
In 2017, the company ramped up its B2B game with the $1B acquisition of CompuCom Systems, a provider of IT services to midsize and small businesses.
In the case of finding a manufacturer, the arrangement could, in theory, open up new international markets to U.S. smaller businesses via Alibaba.
The partnership isn't the first between Alibaba and a major U.S. retail chain. Last year, The Kroger Co. began test sales of its own-brand groceries through Alibaba, with the first test giving Alibaba’s more than 500 million Chinese consumers access to Kroger's Simple Truth brand.