Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba plans US debut

Following the announcement of what may potentially be the largest IPO in tech company history, Chinese e-commerce company Alibaba has announced that they will expand operations outside of China with a US debut which is coming soon.

Alibaba plans to debut under the name 11main.com, which, while not currently available to the public, boasts an email field for early invites and a shortlist of news outlets which have mentioned the site. They intend to provide early access to customers and retailers by invitation only, with a full release later on.

Although Alibaba is noted for its business-to-business and wholesale trading platforms, 11main's preview has a touch of Etsy; small, customer-driven shop owners who can open "storefronts" and sell their products via 11main -- whether they be handcrafted sunglasses, books, or customized phone cases. As it stands, the site clearly intends to appeal to a more trendy audience, but with Alibaba's business model, the potential is there for anyone to open up a storefront and sell what they wish.

According to Alexa, Alibaba.com is the 21st most highly-trafficked site in China -- and last year, the company pulled in a net profit of $2.9 billion. Considering their upcoming IPO, it makes sense for Alibaba to expand into other markets. And unlike their China sites, Alibaba's 11main seeks to carry a visual appeal to its US audience. The entire site carries a perhaps-overdone frontend design, whereas Alibaba.com relies on a more barebones layout to communicate its message.

That being said, the move is still gutsy considering the circumstances. If the launch is a flop, Alibaba's IPO might sink -- and while they can rest comfortably on their billions in profits, rocking the boat before a major move may not be in the best interest for the company.

Source: BBCImage via 11main

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20 Comments

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eh, I don't think it will do well... 1) You need a name that stands out, 11Main doesn't... amazon does... 2) Amazon is a household name now with a ton of power behind it, if someone says would you rather buy from amazon or a Chinese shop that just opened up, who do you think Americans are going to pick?

neufuse said,
eh, I don't think it will do well... 1) You need a name that stands out, 11Main doesn't... amazon does... 2) Amazon is a household name now with a ton of power behind it, if someone says would you rather buy from amazon or a Chinese shop that just opened up, who do you think Americans are going to pick?

Probably should be more specific, and say that they just opened up in the US, but have been operating elsewhere for many years already.

Kyang said,

Probably should be more specific, and say that they just opened up in the US, but have been operating elsewhere for many years already.

yes, hence why I said wont to well for americans

neufuse said,

yes, hence why I said wont to well for americans

Oh, I was thinking along the lines of "new and untested". Didn't know you meant Americans possibly being wary of foreign businesses. In that case, sure, makes sense to me.

Be aware!!! My wife purchased an item off of Alibaba and never received the merchandise. The person took off with $3700.00 and I cannot get it back. They are not guaranteed or secure like Paypal or EBay. BEWARE!!!!

Looks like youve been employed by Amazon? lol.
Anyways Ive bought plenty of things and to be honest best service ever. And who in their right mind would send over $3700 in one single payment?

This is the reply we have gotten back from Alibaba:

We are sorry to hear that you have experienced a problem with a supplier on Alibaba.com.

After a thorough investigation, we found that this supplier has received substantiated complaints from other Alibaba.com members. As soon as we have gotten the report of this fraudulent behavior, we have terminated their membership and ended the contract with this company. We can no longer contact them at this point.

We therefore strongly recommend you:

1. Report your case to the according police bureau where the supplier you complained is located. You may consider hiring a local lawyer to assist you in this process.

2. Or if you have a friend in their country, you may authorize your friend to represent you and help you in this process. After you make a report to the police, we will give our full cooperation to the law enforcement authority in connection with their investigation of your case under and within our legal obligation.

3. Or you may consider seeking for help from your country's embassy in their country which can be a good way to resolve your problem. You may also ask your country's embassy in their country to contact the police bureau and they can help you enforce your legitimate remedies against the subject supplier.

Sincerely yours,
Chancy
Online Security Department of Alibaba.com

This was a bank to bank transfer for merchandise. Bank of China states that the beneficiary or receiver of the funds refuses to return the funds. We have worked with our bank, and they are working to get the funds back. There is no accountability of members on Alibaba.com. We have also purchased merchandise for several years from Alibaba, but from now on it's Ali-Express.

Tough way to learn...

My experience with Alibaba : i don't find Alibaba, only thieves. Is amazing how low trustworthy are the Chineses, at least in Alibaba. Aliexpress (same company, different website) is a bit better but not for so much.

The US should take action against this. It's just going to cause more economic troubles. The general public should go through a retail outlet in the US (with profit margins no more than 20-50%) and support local business, instead of direct to the wholesaler.

More people, less jobs. Thank you China and the internet.

68k said,
The US should take action against this. It's just going to cause more economic troubles. The general public should go through a retail outlet in the US (with profit margins no more than 20-50%) and support local business, instead of direct to the wholesaler.

More people, less jobs. Thank you China and the internet.

My unpopular comment of the week: Well, you guys do it all over the world, expanding and acquiring. As a third world citizen, I gotta know.

Time to taste your own medicine.

68k said,
The US should take action against this. It's just going to cause more economic troubles. The general public should go through a retail outlet in the US (with profit margins no more than 20-50%) and support local business, instead of direct to the wholesaler.

More people, less jobs. Thank you China and the internet.


I'm sorry. It's a trend. Unemployment will only rise. Things have changed. The old way doing of things is slowly going to disappear.

68k said,
The US should take action against this. It's just going to cause more economic troubles. The general public should go through a retail outlet in the US (with profit margins no more than 20-50%) and support local business, instead of direct to the wholesaler.

More people, less jobs. Thank you China and the internet.

Capitalism :buy cheap and sell expensive. Also, capitalism is based in scarcity, so the more poor people exist then the better for us (only if we are not poor). Is capitalism a despicable system, hell yes but we should live with it.

68k said,
support local business, instead of direct to the wholesaler.

Partly true but this will probably HELP small US commerce stores. Wholesalers don't care about selling one or 10, heck a lot won't even take 50 as an order. Not many people want more than one or two. If there's a wholesaler on Alibaba with orders >5 as a minimum quantity they're probably onselling them themselves.

The launch of Alibaba opens the opportunity for small businesses to buy direct from the wholesalers bypassing the corporate import monopolies and pricing structures.

I don't know if that's 100% applicable to the US markets but certainly in NZ there are a lot of markups from wholesaler to customer. Given the scale of US corporates I'd say that it's just as bad in some cases.

So yeah, I reckon it will be a big bonus for a lot of small stores and really open up the marketable opportunities for local retailers.

Google, Amazon, Apple pays here in Italy 11 million Euros of taxes with a business of 3 billions. Do you think I care less if they will be flushed away in the toilette? And from what I have heard, they do the same in your country. Why do you care for them?

Been using them for years (bought smartphones, satellite receivers, e-cigs and other stuff from there) and only had good experience, while paying MUCH less with free shipment. I'm in favor for them to expend and make their services even better.

This sounds more like a version of AliBaba's Taobao B2C site rather than the main B2B site. If they do it right, this is an Amazon killer. The difference between the Amazon and Taobao? Taobao makes money.