Not only do I have deep interest in all things Chinese, (or at least a lot of things Chinese) I also have a soft spot for a once and former client Alibaba.com. My experience with Alibaba was in helping them with some of their U.S. based marketing efforts in 2012.
I did not realize it in 2012 but from what I am seeing from Alibaba’s U.S. focused shopping mall site 11main.com Alibaba’s U.S. approach is to hang around without really making a commitment.
What makes me feel this way? Back in 2012 we helped develop content and graphics used to generate interest on the part of U.S. entrepreneurs and purchasing managers so that they would consider strategic sourcing via the Alibaba.com platform – which was the main business of Alibaba prior to Taobao.com and Tmall.com.
Our work was in advance of the public offering by almost 24 months. What surprised and disappointed us was that Alibaba did nothing to follow up on the leads we generated.
Last June 2014 Alibaba began beta testing 11main.com an ‘exclusive’
Invitation-only (for vendors) shopping platform hosting virtual stores offering interesting and quality-oriented products. Amazon.com appeared (by the lack of any comment) to be not all that worried.
It was my opinion at the time that it might be interesting to pitch selected clients of ours as possible 11main.com store operators as an alternative outlet to the big shopping sites or stores like Amazon, Target and Wal-Mart. I applied and was politely turned down and asked to wait for the right opportunity. Last week I received a voice mail from someone at 11main.com in regard to one of the clients for whom I had written an application.
I called the number back the next day and it was – a fax tone (and I hate getting the fax tone sound don’t you?) I found another number to call and someone answered and I asked the question about the person who left me a voice mail (hey it was a long shot) and the man answered that he’d pass the message along as that person was not around at the moment. A week later I am still waiting for that call. I am not holding my breath.
Even last summer Forbes columnist Walter Loeb wrote that 11 Main was already a ‘Flop’
What I failed to realize was that the 11main.com platform would not be supported – by advertising or really in any other way. I venture a guess that 99% of the people that read this post will never have heard of 11main.com. 11main.com CEO Mike Effle has the right pedigree having founded (and sold to Alibaba) vendio.com. Don’t even get me started on the email ‘offers’ I receive and the opportunity to buy that blouse…
If I could ask Mr. Effle one question it would be – what was the strategic plan?