Alibaba Group Holding is making big moves ahead of its potential $20 billion IPO later in New York later this summer. The company is preparing the launch of a U.S. shopping website called 11 Main.

China’s largest e-commerce company is jumping into an arena dominated by the likes of Amazon and eBay.

Right now, 11 Main is host to more than 1,000 merchants in a limited selection of categories. These categories focus more on fashion and arts and crafts. Stiff competition already exists in these areas too from established companies such as Etsy.

11 Main isn’t going to challenge Amazon, eBay or Etsy anytime soon, but Alibaba is setting the groundwork to eventually challenge the heavy weights.

11 Main was developed by two of Alibaba’s wholly-owned subsidiaries in the U.S., Vendio and Auctiva.

Building a popular shopping site from the ground up is a tough challenge these days. Consumers already have a slew of options to choose from for shopping online. Everything from Amazon to Newegg to traditional retailers such as Wal-Mart and Best Buy.

11 Main will need to offer these consumers something new or better prices to get them to switch.

As Alibaba gears up for its IPO later this year, it has been making several investments in U.S. tech companies. Two months ago, it participated in a $250 million fundraising round for the popular ride-sharing app Lyft. In March, Alibaba invested $215 million in to Tango, a chat app. That valued Tango at around $1 billion.

Alibaba wants to expand out of China and is willing to throw money around to make it happen. We’ll see how 11 Main does when it officially launches later this year.

You can request an invite to shop early at 11 Main at their website. You can also request an invitation to create a shop at 11 Main here.

Let us know what you think about Alibaba’s foray into online shopping in the U.S. Do you think there is room for another big online shopping website?

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