Alibaba is the unquestioned leader in the online wholesale supplier space. With several hundred million global customers, $34 billion in annual revenue, and more than two decades of experience as the first mover in the industry, Alibaba has been the top choice for entrepreneurs, businesses, and product sourcing agents who want access to global suppliers.
By all accounts, Alibaba is the industry’s Goliath. But David just joined the battlefield…and he has more than a slingshot in tote.
He’s bringing a convoy of massive yet lean artillery that many insiders believe will be difficult for the clumsy giant to handle.
If Alibaba is Goliath, the startup Listing Bird is David. And in a space where most entrepreneurs have been hesitant to tackle the multi-billion-dollar giant, a team of skilled and experienced entrepreneurs with impressive investor-side support is confidently and quietly causing major disruption from the inside out.
Meet Listing Bird: An Entirely New Way to Source Global Products
When Alibaba came onto the scene in 1999, manufacturers in China had no easy way to sell to English-speaking buyers around the world.
Alibaba was first to offer a solution to the problem and the company quickly became market dominant. Since then, Alibaba has largely maintained the same wholesale business model.
To source wholesale products for their businesses, buyers (merchants) have to first identify the right manufacturer on Alibaba. The challenge here is to successfully avoid numerous scammers and middlemen present on the platform.
However, finding a manufacturer is only a small part of the equation. If merchants want a profitable and successful transaction, they also need to negotiate pricing and packaging terms (it is easy to get ripped off), agree on a payment modality, test product samples, arrange the international shipment (decide on Incoterms, prepare all documents and invoices etc.), verify that labels and packaging are correct, clear customs and personally manage any delays en route to the final destination.
This process is not only extremely time consuming but carries a lot of risk for the merchant. However, there is no real alternative for global product sourcing. Alibaba is the “best” choice in the industry – the known commodity.
Listing Bird: Click, Buy, Receive
With Listing Bird, all the merchant has to do is log onto the site, purchase the product, and wait for it to be delivered to their warehouse or doorstep. This saves dozens of hours of time, which merchants can reallocate to working on their businesses.
But frictionless ordering and industry-leading delivery times are only half the story. Listing Bird’s business model and ethos are what make it different.
To understand how Listing Bird is changing the game, you have to first understand Alibaba’s monetization strategy and business model.
Alibaba charges sellers (e.g. manufacturers, middlemen etc.) a monthly fee for services, including product display and marketing.
Typically, sellers start with a free account and then slowly upgrade their services, paying Alibaba for more product listings and marketing options.
As a result, Alibaba is incentivized to onboard as many sellers onto the platform as possible: regardless of whether they’re legitimate factories, middlemen, or even savvy scammers.
The onus is on the buyer to then filter out the reliable options from the questionable ones. All of the time and risk is transferred from Alibaba to the merchant.
Listing bird’s model is completely different. It hinges 100% on the merchant’s satisfaction. The customer is king, and suppliers compete to provide the best deal to the merchant. There are no monthly contracts or hidden fees.
Listing Bird only makes money on the back end, which motivates them to only work with the best possible suppliers that offer maximum value.
Another major advantage of the Listing Bird platform is the ability for merchants to place much lower Minimum Order Quantities (MOQs) than most factories typically allow. This enables merchants to test a variety of products before making massive financial investments.
If Alibaba is the time-consuming DIY solution, Listing Bird is the DFY solution – it’s entirely Done For You. It’s the first online wholesale marketplace to put the merchant first.
How Does Listing Bird Do It?
The power of Listing Bird lies in its AI-based end-to-end sourcing process. The company is building a cutting-edge chatbot technology to engage and negotiate with thousands of manufacturers at scale for millions of products, simultaneously.
The goal is to obtain the “absolute maximum” best deal possible for each purchase across a broad set of variables (such as price, packaging, quality, lead time, custom features).
The Listing Bird model allows the platform to get better deals than merchants could otherwise get on their own (via Alibaba or even directly from the manufacturer) and then pass those terms on to the customer.
‘David’ Has Staying Power
Listing Bird isn’t a flash-in-the-pan venture that will easily be squashed by Alibaba. This David has full intentions of going toe-to-toe with Goliath and offering customers a superior alternative. All it takes is one glance at the company’s founding team and you’ll see that they mean business.
Listing Bird is the brainchild of co-founders Julia MacDonald and Husam Alrubaye – a dynamic and experienced duo that one top angel investor has lauded as “experienced company builders” with deep industry knowledge, incredible drive, and unparalleled ambition.
MacDonald has an impressive resume, building a $5 million business unit at Quid (acquired in January 2020) and has been an investment banker / private equity Investor on $1.3 billion of M&A transactions over her career. Past customers have included NASA, Facebook, Intel, and Walmart.
Alrubaye, the 10-year software engineering veteran, has a powerful resume in his own rights. He’s built multiple $1 million per year ecommerce businesses within a period of 12 months each, while also architecting a full-stack software application with more than 60,000 global users.
Other members of the team include investor Ben Zises (investor number one at quip, Caraway, and Arber), advisors Junling Hu, former Director of AI at Samsung Electronics and Ex-leader of Data Science at PayPal and eBay, Mir Anwar, a supply chain and manufacturing expert, founder of Journ and Karachi Studio, and former operations lead at quip, Atoms and Walker & Company.