Continuing its foray into U.S. markets, China-based Alibaba has unveiled a new platform meant to entice American companies to sell to Chinese consumers. The service, called Alipay ePass, is designed to simplify the logistical and transactional costs of overseas sales. “We want to demystify the Chinese consumer for U.S. retailers,” said Jingming Li, president of Alipay U.S.
To date, Alibaba has achieved limited success enticing U.S. firms to use its portals to sell into China. Part of the problem has been the complexity of conversion rates, shipping fees and customs clearance. In effect, if a retailer didn’t have an on-the-ground presence in China, it was likely wasting resources to complete otherwise simple orders.
Alipay ePass, though, removes several barriers, allowing American companies to sell to Chinese consumers through online stores. Alipay is set up to accept the transaction, handle monetary conversion and then pay the U.S. company that sold an item. Shipping is made easier, too, as an American company can simply send an order to an Alipay facility in the U.S. Alipay. not the U.S. firm, then bears the responsibility of shipping the item to China.
Alibaba has started testing ePass with several notable companies like Macy’s, Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue, Ann Taylor and Gilt. According to reports, Alibaba is likely to launch an ePass marketing campaign in the U.S. later this year, focusing on ease of use and sheer numbers. Part of the pitch will be that there are nearly 500 million Chinese consumers that American brands can target.