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The marketplace’s new tools are meant to help small businesses more easily sell and source products online.

With 33 million entities, small businesses are the backbone of the U.S. economy. And that fact is hardly lost on Alibaba.com, the international wholesale e-commerce part of Alibaba International Digital Commerce Group, launched in 1999 as a B2B marketplace for Asia-based suppliers.

Today, Alibaba.com has more than 40 million active wholesale buyers, 5,900 product categories, and it sells to more than 200 countries with content displayed in 17 languages.

But in recent years, U.S. small businesses have been a prime market of opportunity for Alibaba.com, particularly as small businesses look to continue to bring new products to market but face increasing supply chain and logistics pressures.

According to recent data collected by Alibaba.com, in partnership with Harris Poll,, 83% of small business owners are confident in their ability to create new products. Despite this optimism, 46% of small business owners have challenges with their supply chain and sourcing systems and 38% think the global supply chain outlook will have a negative impact on their business. The data also found that the biggest challenges preventing small businesses from creating new products, building brands, or doing brand upgrades include finding the right supplier for the product; research, development, and design of new products; and financing orders of the product.

In response to these concerns outlined by small business owners Alibaba.com rolled out a suite of new digital tools in Las Vegas at Co-Create, its inaugural U.S.-based conference bringing together buyers and sellers from all over.

The aim of developing the new tool set is straightforward: make it easy, convenient, and transparent for U.S. small business sellers to source products online and then use Alibaba.com to sell across the nation and worldwide.

“We have entered a transformative era of B2B sourcing and business innovation, and two keywords we use to define the new generation of B2B sourcing are efficient and inspirational,” says Alibaba.com North America president Stephen Kuo. “We are making the sourcing journey more intuitive and visualizable by helping enterprises of all sizes better utilize today’s leading ecommerce technologies.”

The new suite of tools, which are available free to sellers on Alibaba.com include:

  • Upgraded image, which allows buyers to search for products by image and text simultaneously, with additional image generation capabilities helping to streamline complex sourcing requirements.
  • Smart enhancements to request for quotation (RFQ), which uses predictive sentence completion and image generation to help small-business owners connect quickly and efficiently with qualified suppliers.
  • Real-time translation in 17 languages for live video chats with suppliers, designed to enhance and streamline the process of visually verifying potential partners’ capabilities and facilities.
  • The Alibaba.com logistics marketplace, which offers continual live customer service and enables more detailed tracking of B2B shipments.

These tools will come together in Alibaba.com’s all-encompassing Smart Assistant. Once fully launched, this intuitive personal guide to sourcing will help small-business owners discover new opportunities, stay up to date on trends, and seamlessly track orders through a single and upgraded image search.

For Alibaba.com, the biggest driver of developing innovative digital tools for small-business owners is saving them time and money to help them create their dream product. Unveiling these upgrades at Co-Create – with hundreds of small business owners and suppliers present – provided the perfect opportunity to showcase them and directly connect these groups with each other.

“Co-Create is not just an event; it’s a way of thinking. It is about working together because we can achieve more together than alone,” Kuo says, “At Alibaba.com, we are not just a link in the supply chain — we are dreamers and creators as well. We’re reinventing ourselves to become a link in the ‘creation chain’ for entrepreneurs.”