Right after merging with UCWeb, China-based Alibaba has launched a beta version of its first U.S. marketplace, 11Main.
The title evokes America’s “Main Street,” where anyone can start a small business and succeed. How appropriate, then, that the new website helps small business owners to compete in an arena where the big boys traditionally win. The Etsy-meets-Amazon marketplace will host a wide variety of products on its sleekly designed website.
Instead of launching an everything-store in emerging markets, Alibaba is heading straight for the U.S., where the major players are already pretty established. Alibaba started out providing a B2B marketplace, but it now reigns China’s web market with a variety of services, media, and games. It’s no wonder the company wants to take its chances in the U.S. According to Alibaba’s IPO filing, its consumer shopping site sales delivered $248 billion combined — more than either eBay or Amazon.
Mike Effle, who’s heading up the new marketplace, says 11Main has been a long time coming. In an interview he said the budding marketplace is a combination of acquisitions made in 2010 and 2011, including Vendio, Auctiva and Singlefeed. The site will charge 3.5% in commission to retailers.
Its entry into the U.S. Internet marketplace could help draw attention to the company ahead of Alibaba’s IPO, which will hit the NYSE later this year.