New Site Could Be Springboard to Alibaba’s U.S. E-Commerce Ambitions (June 16, 2014)
Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba’s new U.S. retail portal eventually could present a challenge for some of the biggest names in the online shopping sector, including Amazon and eBay. For now though, Alibaba seems content to set its sights a bit lower. The company’s 11 Main Website, launched to beta testers last week, focuses on selling boutique items from smaller, independent merchants—more in line with Etsy or Square Market than with online mega-retailers, according to Samee Zafar, a director in the London office of payments consultancy Edgar, Dunn & Company.
The site currently includes just 1,000 merchants, but the potential for growth is as large as Alibaba itself. The company is the leading e-commerce provider in China, accounting for a whopping 80 percent of online shopping in the country, and is set to raise $15 billion in what is expected to be the biggest IPO in the U.S. since Facebook’s in 2012. That kind of clout could make major waves at even the top of the e-commerce food chain. “11 Main appears to be more a niche play than mainstream online commerce initially,” Zafar tells Paybefore. “But given Alibaba’s deep pockets and expected mega-IPO, it is likely the company will develop additional offerings in the U.S. and elsewhere, providing competition to Amazon on a global scale.”
Last year, Alibaba inked a deal with MasterCard to work together on e-commence initiatives. The company also has partnered with several major Chinese banks to enable a broad array of international e-commerce offerings.
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