Alibaba is coming to America, launching a new e-commerce site through two wholly-owned subsidiaries, Vendio and Auctiva.
Called 11 Main, the potential Amazon killer is a “shopping destination where hand-picked shop owners connect with customers in a stylish and professionally merchandised marketplace.” Featured items include personal tech devices, jewelry and fashion goods.
Alibaba is the largest e-commerce operator in China and transacts through wildly popular Chinese sites Taobao and TMall, but reaching beyond its national borders has been a challenge. Vendio and Auctiva were acquired by Alibaba in 2010 and are established e-tail experts having helped many companies sell their products on Amazon and eBay.
Rumored to be exploring an IPO with a valuation over $100 billion, Alibaba has been busy ramping up its western presence with a $206 million investment in ShopRunner, a rival to Amazon. According to Euromonitor International, the site is slated to overtake Amazon as the No. 1 e-commerce site by 2015. An enormous enterprise, two of Alibaba’s portals transacted $170 billion in sales in 2012, more than eBay and Amazon.com combined.
Doubling-down on its mobile portfolio, Alibaba just offered $21 per American depository share to acquire the remaining 72 percent stake in mapping app AutoNavi (of which it already owns a 28 percent stake). More than one in four mobile users in China accessed AutoNavi map services in the third quarter of 2013.
“The app could be used to display the locations of Alibaba’s vendors—restaurants, shops, theaters, etc—and help users conveniently make payments on the go,” Forbes notes.
Harvard’s William Kirby, an expert on Chinese business, marks Alibaba as a “private company that has done more for China’s national economy than most state-owned enterprises.”
While Amazon’s next-day delivery has certainly saved the day more than a few times, we’re not so sure that the greater economy is singing its praises as much as China is bowing down to Alibaba.