This article was adapted from March Expo 2021 from Alibaba.com Brings Global Fashion Discovery to the Screen.
The US $1.8 trillion global apparel industry had already experienced recent shifts, with 2020’s global pandemic exerting even greater pressures, challenges, and accelerations on an already fragile system. Now facing product bottlenecks, vendor bankruptcies, and continued uncertainty, retailers need to find new sellers — and they’re looking farther afield to discover them.
With the promise of COVID-19 vaccines and easing safety restrictions, merchants are preparing for an uptick in sales. Already in the US alone, spending on clothing and footwear increased 8 percent in January 2021 from the month prior, following three straight months of decline, according to the US Bureau of Economic Analysis. This trend is expected to continue, so retailers will need to stock up on the latest trends.
The lack of in-person trade shows around the world at this time and the inability to travel to factories, however, have made discovery and sourcing more difficult. While some events have attempted to pivot to digital formats, online B2B marketplace Alibaba.com has emerged as the ultimate global connector, having already been a frontrunner in the virtual space. Its March Expo 2021 — an annual online trade event connecting millions of buyers and sellers around the world in 190+ countries and regions — is currently in full swing, offering countless solutions for a changing business world. The month-long event features more than 40 major product categories (apparel, accessories, textiles, to name a few), with both customizable and ready-to-ship options for business buyers’ increasing immediate needs.
“We want to help existing and new buyers of Alibaba.com get inspired by millions of new products and trends to boost their own businesses in 2021,” said John Caplan, President of Alibaba.com North America and Europe. While buyers can access numerous on-the-spot seller discounts, from 5 to 20 percent off, the month-long event isn’t just about the deal. “With 50,000+ sellers from around the world in every concentration, not to mention 4,000+ new livestreamed product launches, it’s all about the discovery of new products, new seller relationships, and new possibilities for the business buyers.”
This is where a massive marketplace is needed more than ever. In the industry’s constantly shifting global puzzle board, companies of all sizes — be they retailers, e-tailers, manufacturers, importers, sellers, and anyone else up and down the chain — are looking for new partners to help build a more resilient and diverse supply chain.
This can be a daunting process, but global B2B marketplace Alibaba.com is using its vast scope, experience, and know-how to help.
Speed-to-market considerations have proven essential for those who need to react quickly to social media and influencer trends, and March Expo’s industry insights and data-driven top-ranking lists are here to help. The Ready-to-Ship filter also helps March Expo 2021 attendees find immediate goods fast. To make it even easier, Alibaba.com recently launched an Elite Partner Event where buyers can find high-quality products and sellers in one place. This vetted group of global sellers features innovative, new technologies and products in a variety of categories to help enhance your competitive edge. On the textile side, Alibaba.com Elite Partner Enerup has pushed the envelope in the trend towards health and wellness with new performance materials providing increased health security.
“Our Copper Shield textile series is embedded with copper, an advanced technology that offers anti-microbial properties in everything from T-shirts to bedding,” said Joy Xu, General Manager at Asia-based textile manufacturer Enerup company Harvest SPF. “Increased wears afforded by bacteria reduction also means saving water on laundering, so there’s a sustainability element as well. As an Alibaba.com Elite Partner at March Expo, we’ve been able to get that important message in front of a tremendous global audience.”
An insights treasure trove, March Expo 2021 offers a rich buyer experience on many fronts, narrowing down the million offerings into useful information. Alibaba.com puts out 6,000+ data-driven trend sheets throughout the month of March with everything from style trends to performance textiles to meet consumers’ heightened demand for the outdoors.
Virtual runway shows from brands and textile manufacturers around the world (both live-recorded events and animated 3D ones) bring items to life on models and avatars, all usefully grouped by Everyday Casuals, Comfy Couture, and Colors & Patterns. Meanwhile, a 24/7 livestream feed introduces new product launches, behind-the-scenes factory tours, and manufacturing systems, as well as live presentations and demonstrations.
Beyond sourcing products, Alibaba.com is well aware of the pain points of global B2B trade. It’s with that in mind that the event offers up numerous benefits and shipping deals. US business buyers can also take advantage of upgraded payment options from Apple Pay, Google Pay, and PayPal to buy now, pay later options.
To optimize logistics, Alibaba.com offers 37 distinct air, rail, and sea routes to facilitate guaranteed, on-time delivery on millions of products, including three chartered flights to the US per week. The marketplace also can guarantee door-to-door delivery with customs and import duties included. “We know small companies, in particular, might have a hard time with sourcing, especially from overseas, and that’s where Alibaba.com and March Expo can lend a hand,” said Caplan.
This week's #B2BTuesday Tip:
You might be tempted to buy merchandise in large quantities to take advantage of lower prices. But having excess stock can lead to spending more to manage it. Make sure you accurately predict demand to know exactly how much inventory you should purchase.