Amazon vs Alibaba

By Martin Ray

Amazon vs Alibaba

Lots of B2B companies have the ambition to provide ecom for their customers. And I usually advise them to start by looking at what others do. When looking at the giants for inspiration or ideas, one should be aware of the fundamental differences in their strategies and business models respectively. Also, it's important to make the relevant comparisons to your own business situation.    

What are global B2B-game changers like Amazon and Alibaba doing?

  • Untying knots & solving industry-wide issues.

  • Amazon is primarily buyer centric in their approach.

  • Alibaba has taken a seller-centric approach to solving industry wide challenges.


Supply Chain Management

  • Continuous order fulfilment - Supply chain continues to function effectively at all times.
  • Automation - Invests in state-of-the-art machines and automation technology to keep up with demand.
  • Warehouses & inventory - Enough stock to always be able to fulfil any order at any time.
  • Last-Mile Logistics – Manages their own extremely efficient logistics system to get the products that “last mile”.

Buyer experience

  • One contact card – no siloed data on customers, everything is connected to a single contact card.
  • Personalisation - When a B2B buyer interact with Amazon, they expect the company to know something about them and help them find and buy the right solution to their problem.
  • Winning the search war - The winners of SEO are the ones with the most relevant content!
  • Effortless payment – Makes it easy for customers to pay in any way they prefer.


If Amazon has the ambition to create a unique buying experience for each individual customer... How come that almost every other manufacturing company try to standardise the buying experience?

If Amazon uses maximum five personas globally, and they are all based on behaviour... How many do you then need? 


  • Alibaba is essentially solving the matching and sourcing problem within B2B.
  • They do this by connecting Chinese exporters with the world through its online-to-offline platforms.
  • Alibaba then makes money by charging commissions as a percentage of the transaction value of goods sold.
  • Alibaba also makes money by offering import / export supply chain services (custom clearance, VAT refund, trade financing, and logistic services).


 If we look at the Alibaba approach... What sell-side challenges do your customers have that we could potentially help solve?

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Martin Ray
Chief Analyst & Digital Strategist 2011-2022.
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