Alibaba Group, the operator of China’s biggest business-to-business and business-to-consumer marketplaces, is using ecommerce to quickly connect suppliers to medical operations fighting the coronavirus.
Alibaba on Wednesday rolled out a B2B sourcing platform aimed at speeding up the delivery of medical supplies in areas such as Wuhan, the Chinese city with a population of 11 million where the coronavirus started.
The new B2B platform—the Alibaba Global Direct Sourcing Platform—will match medical suppliers with Chinese hospitals, government agencies and related organizations working to contain the disease and treat patients. Suppliers can use the portal, at globalsource.alibaba.com, to get detailed product requirements and click to submit a price quote.
So far, the coronavirus, a large family of respiratory viruses found in both animals and humans, has 31,161 confirmed cases and killed more than 600 people in China.
So far, more than 150 suppliers
Chinese health officials are hard-pressed to find needed such medical supplies as protective masks and goggles, respirators, protection suits, thermometers, disinfectant and related protection accessories like plastic gloves.
So far, the Alibaba sourcing platform has more than 150 suppliers. And Cainiao Green Channel, Alibaba’s logistics business, has delivered medical supplies from 15 countries to 18 hospitals in Hubei, Zhejiang and Anhui provinces in China, Alibaba says.
“The goal is to connect medical supplies from the global supply chain with those in need of these supplies in a more-expedited and efficient way,” Alibaba says in an open letter it released to suppliers worldwide. It notes an urgent need for such supplies as medical protective suits, goggles and gloves.
A billion-yuan fund for purchasing supplies
Alibaba is using 1 billion yuan (about $142 million) from a newly created fund to purchase the needed medical supplies, which the company is donating to hospitals and other healthcare facilities combating the coronavirus. Alibaba also is providing for free shipping, delivery and other logistics services.
Sellers can register for free on the Alibaba Global Direct Sourcing Platform and submit a price quote with product details online, although to expedite the process some quotes already are being done manually by Alibaba, the company says.
Alibaba says information on the sourcing platform is “accurate and transparent” and “promptly and efficiently” connects with suppliers using the platform.
“The effort to contain and stop the virus is at a critical stage,” Alibaba says in the letter to suppliers. “Our goal is to connect the medical supplies from the global supply chain with those in need of supplies in a more-expedited and efficient way.”
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