June 11, 2014 / 10:05 AM / 4 years ago

Alibaba takes on Amazon and eBay with U.S. e-commerce website

(Reuters) - Chinese e-commerce company Alibaba Group Holding Ltd unveiled its first direct-to-consumer online shop in the United States on Wednesday, looking to take on Amazon.com Inc and eBay Inc on their home turf.

An employee is seen behind a glass wall with the logo of Alibaba at the company's headquarters on the outskirts of Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, April 23, 2014. REUTERS/Chance Chan

The website, 11main.com, which is currently in beta, will feature a wide range of products, including “one-of-a-kind items, not available at mass merchants and other large e-commerce sites,” Alibaba said.

The website displayed an “opening soon” message early on Wednesday. “Our shop owners are currently unpacking and getting settled,” the site said.

The invitation-only marketplace, which Alibaba said would be “inspired by the local Main Street shopping experience,” will offer products in a variety of categories such as fashion and style, home and outdoor, and jewelry and watches.

The announcement comes as Alibaba prepares for a U.S. initial public offering that is expected to raise more than $15 billion - the most since Facebook’s IPO in 2012.

The company, founded by Jack Ma, controls 80 percent of all online retail in China, handling about $250 billion in 2013 - more than Amazon and eBay Inc combined.

Reuters reported in February that Alibaba was set to launch a U.S. e-commerce website.

Reporting by Supriya Kurane, Ankush Sharma and Aurindom Mukherjee in Bangalore; Editing by Ted Kerr

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