Having made an early entry into business to business (B2B) portal market in China (1995), Alibaba.com concentrated on small and medium sized businesses (SMBs) given their favourable numerical strength.
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The portal market company capitalised on the fact that SMBs found it difficult to link up with the rest of the global firms given their limited capacity and language barrier.
Alibaba.com assisted the SMBs by organising their information, and then linking them with international firms (buyers). This saved the local SMBs time and money they would spend in attending trade fairs and exhibitions in search of global business partners.
As such, the main lock-in effect that Alibaba.com used to woo SMBs their way was language. To date, it organises, translates and acts as a link-up between Chinese suppliers and global buyers.