Alibaba Launches U.S. Shopping Site

Alibaba – the Chinese e-commerce mega-retailer that is preparing for an IPO widely forecasted to be one of the biggest money makers in the history of international commerce –has just dipped its first toe into selling directly to U.S. consumers with the launch of 11 Main, reports The Wall Street Journal.

The 11 Main Marketplace is the brainchild of Alibaba’s two U.S. affiliates, Vendio and Auctiva, features wares like clothes, fashion accessories, jewelry, interior goods, and, arts and crafts. This plants the new marketplace in direct competition with several already established U.S. site such as Amazon, eBay and Etsy—just to name a few. The site currently features about 1,000 merchants, though the company hopes to attract more.

The main focus now is on that recruitment, which is incentivized by allowing merchants access to the platform at a much lower cost than is traditional on other websites. At the same time, 11 Main is also trying to be a home to strong merchant performers—with an intense quality screening in place before a merchant can join up.

“There are many small shop owners that are looking for broader platforms, but when they look at the broader platforms, those are not necessarily structured to support their brands or their identities,” said 11 Main President Mike Effle in an interview, reports The Journal.” Of course, we would love to be an everyday shopping destination.”

Over the past year, Alibaba has struck a string of deals in the U.S. In 2013 the company led a $206 million investment round in ShopRunner Inc. a rival service to Amazon to unlimited quick shipping within the U.S.

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