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Alibaba to Sell E-Commerce Site 11 Main One Year After Launch

Chinese e-commerce king Alibaba Group did not fare well in its first foray into American e-tailing, the Internet-based business plans to sell its 11 Main site to rival online seller OpenSky.

Merchants selling through the 11 Main site, where they had access to vend their novel wares as a niche e-boutique to what they thought would be a wealth of buyers because of Alibaba’s successes in China, reportedly grew weary of poor sales.

The e-commerce group launched the U.S.-based boutique site with at Etsy-meets-Amazon feel last year in hopes of bringing the Main Street shopping experience online and providing something different than the mass offerings available at Amazon and EBay.

One vendor whose Doc Artisan line sells driftwood iPhone cases and docking stations told Bloomberg, “11 Main thought they could come in with big money and disrupt. Boy, were they wrong.”

Some vendors left in less than one month, calling the site and some of its requirements almost “amateur.”

Selling on the site was by invitation only and to receive an invite, brands had to sell in one of 11 Main’s key categories, which include Fashion & Style, Crafts, Hobbies & Toys, Home & Outdoor, Babies & Kids, among others. They then had to prove they could sell successfully online, provide prime customer service and offer reasonably priced shipping originating from within the U.S. to be considered for an invitation.

Alibaba will still hold a “significant” stake in the combined entity, which is expected to increase sales for more than 50,000 brands, according to Bloomberg.

OpenSky, also a marketplace of 50,000 business, said on its website that each of the leading 50 vendors sell $100,000 or more a month on the site.

Alibaba hasn’t disclosed 11 Main’s performance, but as of early April, the site had listed more than 2,000 merchants and processed 1.3 million orders compared to 1,000 sellers and 500,000 orders when it started up in June last year, Bloomberg reported.