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3 Ways to Make E-commerce a Stress-Free, Money-Making Business

President of Alibaba.com North America and Europe shares top tips for finding success when buying and selling online.

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Whether you're a full-on digital retail business or a brick-and-mortar that also sells online, e-commerce isn't easy. From sourcing products to attracting customers to shipping logistics and more, there are so many moving parts to get exactly right—running a successful online retail business can be downright stressful.

But it doesn't have to be. With the right digital tools, partners, and strategies, sourcing and selling online can be a successful, stress-free endeavor.

One company that knows this well is Alibaba.com, a leading global B2B online marketplace connecting manufacturers, suppliers, retailers, importers, and exporters from 190 countries and regions all over world. With a mission to make it easier for small businesses to do business anywhere, Alibaba.com has seen a 150-percent increase in U.S.-based entrepreneurs leveraging the online platform year over year.

"We provide the tools and the trusted environment for businesses that have never done business together, that may never get on a plane and meet one another, to trust each other and do business with one another," says John Caplan, President of Alibaba.com in North America and Europe, who is leading the global transformation of the Alibaba.com business.

With Alibaba.com's biggest sales event of the year, Super September, going under way right now, Caplan offers his top tips on how entrepreneurs can succeed in e-commerce on their own terms with less stress and lower costs.

1. Leverage digital tools and partners that have a proven track record with entrepreneurs.

By nature, entrepreneurs are skeptical. If something sounds too good to be true, it likely is. When setting out to create a successful e-commerce business, Caplan suggests only working with tools and partners that show proof of tangible results for businesses.

One platform with a proven track record is Alibaba.com. "If you sell on Alibaba.com, you sell pallets and container loads of products. And if you source on Alibaba.com, you get good products at wholesale prices that you can make margin on," Caplan says. "That can include tailored products for resale such as smartphone cases, to factory equipment, to raw materials."

To show its support for the new generation of digital entrepreneurs, Alibaba.com is expanding its suite of features, services, and support to include a grants program that awards a total of $500,000 to small- and medium-size businesses in the form of 50 grants of $10,000. The aim is to support innovative product ideas and original go-to-market strategies. "We want to help cultivate the incredible entrepreneurship that's happening here in the U.S. and invest in those people and the work they're doing," Caplan says.

2. Reduce inventory and cashflow headaches with Dropshipping Solutions.

When you think of retail, perhaps you assume a seller has all its products stored on shelves in their home or stored in a warehouse they own or rent. While that used to be the case, many online businesses today opt for Dropshipping instead.

With Dropshipping, e-commerce businesses can accept and fulfil orders from customers without ever owning or physically having the product in stock. Instead, they purchase the item from a third party and have it shipped directly to the customer.

With Alibaba.com's Dropshipping Solutions, e-commerce businesses get an end-to-end service that provides access to global suppliers and products at wholesale prices and connects to online storefronts like Shopify and WooCommerce. "This gives an online seller the ability to market products from pre-vetted global suppliers, sell them directly from their storefronts, and promote them without having to worry about managing inventory," Caplan says.

3. Rest assured with Virtual Reality Showroom tours.

When sourcing products and materials from all over the world, getting to know the seller or the manufacturer and seeing the product before you buy it isn't always easy. One way to reduce this stress and risk is by leveraging Alibaba.com's Virtual Reality Showrooms. Using immersive 360° virtual reality technology, buyers can experience more than 5,000 full-scale showrooms and assembly lines without ever leaving home.

Alibaba.com also helps communications between buyers and sellers near and far in real-time. "You can virtually communicate with and walk around the showroom of the factory you're doing business with that's 8,000 miles away," Caplan says. "We addressed all parts of the discovery experience for buyers and sellers in a world where many people aren't traveling."

Click here to learn more about buying and selling on Alibaba.com during Super September.

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