Alibaba logo 200Alibaba’s B2B business unit, including and, the leading platforms for online wholesale trade of the Alibaba Group (NYSE:BABA), and UBM plc, one of the world’s leading trade exhibition organisers, have today announced a strategic alliance to unite the online and offline trade buying experience initially in Asia.  

Will this alliance spell the end of face to face events market places?

The two companies have begun exploring opportunities to link the B2B online and face-to-face trading worlds by leveraging their combined strengths, technologies and relationships. The alliance will begin with pilot programmes introducing Alibaba B2B business unit’s online secure transactional platforms and business portals for companies participating in select UBM Asia trade fairs. Cross promotional marketing, match-making services and audience development of the two company’s brands and networks will be another key aspect in working towards the longer term goal of creating the next generation of on and offline trade experiences.

Sophie Wu, President of the Alibaba B2B business unit, commented: “We are excited to collaborate with UBM to offer small and medium-sized enterprises a multichannel B2B trading experience. They can also tap into the abundant and combined expertise of the two industry pioneers for more worldwide trading opportunities.”\

Tim Cobbold, CEO of UBM plc, said: “A fundamental element of our ‘Events First’ strategy is our commitment to innovate and to deliver value for our customers. We are excited at the opportunity to partner with, to create the next generation of trade buying experience.”

Pilot programmes for the joint collaboration will begin with UBM Asia’s Malaysia International Furniture Fair (MIFF) to be held on 1-5 March 2016 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Finefood Shanghai — part of Hotelex Shanghai — to be held 29 March to 1 April 2016 in Shanghai, China; and the co-located Materials Manufacturing & Technology (MM&T) and Fashion Access (FA) fairs to be held 30 March to 1 April 2016 in Hong Kong.

The collaboration will commence with promotions of the UBM fairs to both parties’ respective trade audiences and Alibaba will begin offering their Trade Assurance service onsite to select exhibitors. Alibaba’s Trade Assurance service allows participating suppliers to offer guarantees on order quality standards and on-time shipment. Further pilots in the second half of 2016 will include additional business match-making components for other UBM Asia events such as Shanghai International Children Baby Maternity Industry Expo (CBME China) and SIGN & LED CHINA fairs.

James Dong, Head of B2B Strategy, Investment, Business Development and Business Intelligence of, commented: “We see great added values that this collaboration brings to global business traders. Alibaba’s online trading resources and technology complements with the interaction and dialogues in the offline UBM trade shows. Such an alliance not only makes trading more cost-effective but enables higher level of trust between global buyers and sellers.”

James Dong President and CEO of UBM Asia Ltd, said: “One of the challenges of the trade exhibition industry is continuing the buyer and seller dialogue and experience throughout the year. Meanwhile, the limitation of a pure online trading world is the absence of the physical interaction and development of the personal relationship. With Alibaba and UBM Asia — both prominent players in our respective fields of B2B trade — working together, we see opportunities to change how online and offline trade takes place, providing improved returns and efficiencies for our customers.”

Additional information will be shared with the attendees and exhibitors on each pilot event.  The progress on the business match-making components will be announced as the partnership develops.