By Brecken Branstrator
New York—American merchants will now be able to sell their goods on Chinese e-commerce platform Alibaba.

The company announced Tuesday that it is opening its business-to-business platform to manufacturers, wholesalers and distributors in the U.S., helping it compete with global e-tail giants like Amazon. Previously American businesses could only buy on the site.

Launched in 1999, was created to connect suppliers in China with buyers in overseas markets, particularly those in the U.S.

It’s now implementing a new program aimed at small and midsized businesses (SMBs) to allow them to sell on the platform and access the massive global business-to-business e-commerce market.

Concurrent with the announcement, launched several new features to help SMBs in the U.S. market better sell and source through the site.

This includes an easy-to-use interface for building and managing a digital store; customer relationship management, digital marketing and communication tools; and an online payment system, Alibaba said.

The company also created a “customer success team” in the U.S. to support businesses as they join and has improved its search function to deliver more accurate results for buyers.

To further support the new sellers on the platform, said it is building an “ecosystem” of industry partners comprised of “anchor sellers,” such as Office Depot and Robinson Fresh, the produce division of logistics company C.H. Robinson, which will help drive U.S. traffic to the site via name recognition and extensive product inventories.

Additionally, the e-commerce platform has partnered with software companies and service providers—like logistics provider ShipStation and jobs search engine Indeed—and organizations at the national, regional and local levels to support the sellers with exclusive offers, discounts and educational content.

Alibaba also launched a national tour of educational and networking events, called “Build Ups,” to help SMBs learn how to best tap into e-commerce opportunities.

The first event was held last week in Brooklyn, with events in Los Angeles and Chicago planned for this week. Other Build Up events will take place later in the year. serves 10 million active buyers from over 190 countries and regions, as well as about 150,000 sellers.

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