Alibaba Is Partnering With Office Depot to Reach U.S. Customers

In turn, the American retailer gains global prospects

The partnership is focused on helping small businesses in the U.S. sell abroad. - Credit by Alibaba
Headshot of Lisa Lacy

In a real-life example of I’ll-scratch-your-back-if-you-scratch-mine, Alibaba and retailer Office Depot are teaming up to help small and medium-sized businesses in the U.S. capitalize on the $23.9 trillion global business-to-business ecommerce market.

In a video, John Caplan, head of North America B2B at Alibaba Group, said the deal lets Office Depot bring its products to the Alibaba platform, yielding a more global customer base and, in turn, Alibaba’s global sellers can better reach U.S. consumers.

According to a blog post, the partnership will result in “faster, more transparent” and cost-effective distribution and fulfillment. It combines Office Depot infrastructure—including 1,000 trucks, 9 million square feet of distribution and fulfillment space, about 1,350 retail locations and dozens of third-party logistics partners—with Alibaba’s platform, which includes sourcing, logistics and payments.

“The collaboration between Office Depot and Alibaba.com is really the mix of global strength and local strength,” Caplan said in the video. “We have a simple mission: We want to help the world’s small businesses do business anywhere. We can accelerate the ability of a small business to in fact operate like a multinational company. That’s very powerful.”

In fact, Caplan said, the partnership could create a new industry model.

“It’s time to start building bridges, not moats,” he added.


@lisalacy lisa.lacy@adweek.com Lisa Lacy is a senior writer at Adweek, where she focuses on retail and the growing reach of Amazon.