Six months ago, Jamal could have gone shopping in a mall without anyone taking the slightest notice. Now, this teenage Internet sensation can hardly wander a couple of blocks from his home without being recognized by passersby – mostly young netizens who invariably cozy up and request selfies with him.
After dropping out of high school, Jamal became a part-time helping hand at a mom-and-pop consumer electronics store in the downtown Detroit neighborhood where he grew up. He was eager to acquire new skills, his alacrity to take up extra work and try different things made him an indispensable asset to his employers -- running urgent errands, be a stand-in salesperson or on-demand delivery man. His unique strength was in providing customer support in-store or over the telephone, and helping clueless customers decipher user manuals ostensibly written for Martians. Soon, he was the retailer's go-to person for miscellaneous troubleshooting.
The first break came when Jamal helped his employers move the store's products online and sold a large portion of their inventory through eBay and Amazon. He seized the opportunity and teamed up with them to launch a video blog for reviewing the functions of new electronic gadgets that hit the market. Since then, his online show has featured the latest models of digital cameras, game consoles, mobile phones and trendy electronic accessories of all kinds. However, it was the showcasing of virtual reality headsets -- Samsung Gear VR, Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, and PlayStation VR- that sent hit rates through the roof, reaching a high point with the episode on Microsoft Hololens. Jamal knew he needed to find ways of sourcing newfangled gadgets really fast to sustain the momentum of his blog.
A subscriber once told him about Alibaba.com, and it quickly won him over with its countless entries on a plethora of consumer electronic products. So, he signed up with the website to look for new ideas. To help save time, he focused on wearable devices and started searching for "smart glasses" and "spy glasses", which he hoped could pick up where virtual reality devices left off. His effort was rewarded when the searches returned a wide range of items with radically different designs, from entry level products to those with advanced features and functions. Their price tags also appealed to him because there was room to include reasonable profit margins.
Jamal had his own difficulties, though. Firstly, he planned to select a dozen eyewear but would order just one sample item for each of them. It meant placing a large number of orders and processing a lot of document -- something he dreaded. Similarly, he eschewed handling legal, financial and logistic arrangements. Up till then, sourcing and purchasing of goods for the brick-and-mortar business was the exclusive responsibility of his employers, while eBay and Amazon took care of fulfillment for online sales of merchandise. This time, however, he had no choice but to confront his fear and bite the bullet.
When Jamal found out that Alibaba.com had a one-stop solution to his problems, he took a deep breath and dived into it. His first step was to compile a list of Trade Assurance suppliers because he wanted the program's threefold protection on payment refund, compliance with product quality and on-time shipment. To his surprise, he could download the Alibaba.com app and liaise with vendors via live chats as he did with his buddies! So he messaged prospective vendors on his list to inquire about unit price and to request samples from each one of them, followed by payment settlement with credit card information provided by his employers. It was an intuitive, hassle-free process that took no more than a few days, and the fact that he did it on his mobile phone while browsing his Facebook page made it a really cool experience.
The samples were delivered within the following week, and Jamal began comparing their design, their quality and their functions to identify the ones with the most bang for the buck. Then, he convinced his employers to let him place orders for the best products because he truly believed they would sell like hotcakes after he showcased them on his blog.
The usual ordering process would have been a torture to Jamal, but he knew Alibaba.com could help him navigate the minefield. So, he re-visited the homepage to place orders with a handful of Trade Assurance suppliers through the user-friendly online order process, which to him definitely beat drafting sale-and-purchase agreements. Also, he could conveniently track the status of all his online orders at the website's Trade Center -- which integrated the entire deal management process into one page, helped him monitor all his online correspondence with suppliers as well as track the status of goods in transit. Because those were sizable orders that incurred larger payments, his employers preferred to pay for them by telegraphic bank transfers to accounts designated by Alibaba.com. It entitled the buyers to full refund protection for payments not exceeding the Trade Assurance amounts if the quality or the quantities of goods failed to comply with the terms and specifications spelled out in their orders, or if their suppliers missed the deadlines for shipping their goods.
Jamal can hardly believe that he actually took the challenge and successfully placed his first batch of orders. He is excited that everything is in place, and that his video blog is finally ready for big time. With help from Alibaba.com, he is confident that even a teenage with his mobile phone can still make things happen.