Being China's largest e-commerce company means that Alibaba is no slouch. But that doesn't mean the company's first site in the U.S. will roll over the likes of Amazon and eBay either.
Alibaba, which has filed for an initial public offering that could help the company raise upwards of $20 billion, has announced the planned launch of 11 Main, a marketplace of more than 1,000 merchants selling arts and crafts, clothing, household interior products and toys. A key selling point of the new site for merchants is lower commission: Alibaba will reportedly charge as little as half the going rate in the U.S.
The new marketplace has been compared to Etsy in some reports, but Mike Effie, president and general manager of 11 Main, doesn't believe that is accurate. Many of those selling goods on Etsy are hobbyists whereas all the sellers on 11 Main are merchants.
"These are operating specialty shops, boutiques and shop owners," Mr. Effle told Internet Retailer. "The idea is for shoppers to be able to visit Main Street shop owners and support small businesses."
Aly Grace, a three-store upscale clothing and accessories business operating in the San Francisco Bay area is one of the first merchants on the 11 Main site.
"We've been struggling with the ability to reach a large audience, being a small business," Tiger Bachler, the owner of Aly Grace, told The Associated Press. "We anticipate [11 Main] will be able to give us a wider audience with their marketplace expertise and marketing power."
Susan Berry, who runs an online skin and beauty care company called Oshun Spirit, is an eBay seller who is also joining 11 Main. She said the new site has an aggressive marketing budget that makes her hopeful for its success. "I'm always looking for alternatives to eBay," she told The Wall Street Journal.
How likely is 11 Main to become an e-commerce force in the U.S. in the years ahead?