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eBay Sellers Provide Update on Alibaba-Backed Marketplace

Plenty of eBay sellers are applying to sell on 11Main.com with great enthusiasm at the thought of an alternative marketplace, but many of them are receiving rejection notices. 11 Main is a new marketplace to be launched soon by Auctiva, an eBay listing tool owned by Chinese firm Alibaba. Sellers we spoke to described the application process, and some expressed concerns about possible retaliation against Auctiva and how it could impact their listings.

Piecing together the notices gives an indication of which categories 11Main is accepting and rejecting. Some letters to applicants state, “At this time, we’re specifically seeking shop owners with products in the Fashion & Style, Home, Collecting & Art and Baby & Kids categories.”

Some sellers were told the only used products allowed were in the vintage and collectibles categories; however, even here the marketplace is being very selective, and sellers say the marketplace is rejecting vintage clothing.

Some letters from the marketplace state that it is making a careful selection of the “right” product assortments, of “first quality” – with the exception of Collecting, Vintage and Antiques.

The Alibaba-backed marketplace isn’t taking sellers’ word for the types of items they sell – sellers are required to show 11Main their active listings on eBay or another marketplace or website.

This can be reassuring or frustrating to sellers. One seller approved to list on 11Main said the marketplace was looking for authorized sellers of brand name products to ensure authenticity. “The level of care taken to ensure only legitimate, authentic products on their site is obviously a great concern,” and they said they were happy not to be competing with sellers of counterfeit merchandise.

But other sellers resent being rejected, including sellers of books and auto parts. 11Main is restricting the marketplace to U.S. sellers only, another sticking point for international sellers.

Among the positive points described by sellers: excellent customer service; no feedback system on the site, it’s waiving fees for one year for some sellers; and it says it will advertise the marketplace. Sellers have said they think the latter point is vital, as many eBay alternatives have come and gone over the past decade or more.

Some Fear Backlash from eBay
Some believe the clock is ticking for Auctiva as it helps eBay’s biggest rival in China launch a competing marketplace in its own backyard. Auctiva helps sellers list on eBay, and now some of its customers are concerned that eBay could quash their listings in retaliation.

Just the idea that eBay could frown on Auctiva’s new marketplace could cause sellers to seek alternatives, as was the case with one reader who said, “I’m not going to hang around using Auctiva to have eBay end up banning the use of it or sinking Auctiva user’s items further in search. Maybe I’m just being paranoid but eBay seems like a vengeful entity.”

Comment on the February 9th EcommerceBytes Blog post.

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Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner is co-founder and Editor of EcommerceBytes and has been reporting on ecommerce since 1999. She's a widely cited authority on marketplace selling and is author of "Turn eBay Data Into Dollars" (McGraw-Hill 2006). Her blog was featured in the book, "Blogging Heroes" (Wiley 2008). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to ina@ecommercebytes.com.