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Why did 11Main Fail? What is Happening to Online Sales?

11main. Sold. What happened? 

Wall Street Journal article here. 

I had an 11Main store. About 2 weeks ago, I removed my inventory from 11Main. I was tired of having to delete items that sold somewhere else.

Yesterday, the official announcement came in that 11Main has been sold to Opensky. Who's that? Exactly.

In the beginning with 11Main we were promised exposure and everything that eBay was falling short on. I had already pretty much left eBay and was selling here on my shopify website, Etsy and One Kings Lane. I am very happy with all three venues. I was also selling on a site owned by One Kings Lane called "Hunter's Alley". It was a beautiful well curated website that was having marginal growth. Hunter's Alley was closed last year and it was a beautiful site, why? What happened?

Back to 11Main. More than a year ago, I applied and was accepted as did my BFF Denise at The Jewelry Lady's Store. I cannot say that there were not were red flags all along the way, because there were. The staff was so sweet and helpful. So refreshing after the seller abuse at ebay. We watched and helped as they asked questions and built the website. My first red flag was that we were to use Auctiva or Vendio to access the website. In my mind I was asking why would anyone buy those companies, because my experience with them was that they were no good. When the site opened, I have to say that I was more than disappointed. It was not my idea of pretty and the back end was terrible to work with. The item mix was totally curated...and not well. Bad move on their part. They had no idea what they were doing. They should have left it to the entrepreneurial and experienced sellers who have the knowledge and know what to do. In fact, I won a $250.00 gift certificate at 11Main as part of a Pinterest promotion. It took me months to even find something that I wanted. Had that been Etsy or One Kings Lane, pfttt! That little jewel would have been spent the first day!

My shop and The Jewelry Lady's Storewere featured stores. We got bigger banners, auto-accepted items and advertising. Nothing worked. I sold 10 items over the period of a year. 10 items would have been one day of sales on ebay before they went south. Still, the staff was sweet so we stayed on. At this point though, neither of us added fresh inventory because it was not time well spent. Good things were selling elsewhere. I decided to remove inventory because the upkeep of the site was a time-sucker. Now, my shop is being closed. I have no interest in Opensky. 

So what happened? Alibaba had no idea what is really going on with American e-commerce. They thought that they could copy other sites and dominate the market because they have a vast resource of money. Wrong, so wrong. Our paradigm has moved so far beyond that and they were clueless.

Let's face it. American buyers and sellers are good at what they do. We've been doing it for a long time. We may have sold out our manufacturing to China, but we are still innovators. We are free in America. We think outside of the box. We know how to buy, how to get a deal and we know how to sell and take care of customers. 

eBay was once a good thing, but the corporation became very greedy. They blew it. They abused and took advantage of their customers, THE SELLERS. They are still of the opinion that the buyers are their customers and the sellers are their to be taken advantage of. They have placed competitive ads on listing pages, they treat sellers with such disregard with feedback ratings and defects. Fees kept going up and up. The rules grew and grew. Sellers left. Ebay forgot that they have no product to sell! When the sellers left they took their inventory, the good stuff. Ebay is all washed up. 

Where did these sellers go? Many went to Amazon and Etsy. They dispersed to flash sales sites or other sales platforms like Bonanza and Ruby Lane. New sites have popped up by the thousands. Charish, shopenvy and the list goes on. The customers have dispersed as well.

Not only did ebay fail because of their poor business practices, but they got in trouble with google for cheating. Google dumped them basically. And google is another, much bigger problem. Pay-to-play has impacted the small and medium seller greatly. The independent website owner cannot afford google adwords. Why do these big corporations think that they can survive on each other only? They cater to each other with businesses that they built on the backs of small business. 

While all of this turmoil was transpiring, a new sales community was quietly building. It was the result of Americans doing what they do best. They improvise. They freed themselves of sales platforms and started to sell on social media. They created "pop-ups" in malls and existing brick & mortar stores. They took their businesses back and their profits with them. Instagram and Facebook has become a huge place of business. Simple. Post a photo, comment if you want it and an invoice is sent. Invoice. Oh, that meant paypal. Sellers typically dislike the eBay owned paypal. Well, it's on the way out too. Stripe, Applepay and others are positioning themselves for the money grab of payment processing. 

So what's next? The buy it button. Social Media is in a race to be the first with a fully functioning buy button that provides the customer with the ability to buy an item right there on social media without clicking into a website. And, it's all about the smart device. Smart device sales are growing at an amazing rate and desktop is in the decline. 

For sellers, all you need is a place for your product to live. Then you need work on social media getting to know your customers and let them get to know you. Create a relationship with your customers, know what they look like and a bit about their lives. Kind of like having a brick & mortar again. The same, but different. 

So here's the thing to remember. Corporate is reacting to what we, the American consumer has done with on-line sales. We are leading the game. We have the money to buy and we have the good stuff to sell. Chinese junk is easy to get, everywhere, cheap...throwaway junk it is. We, the Americans, have the fine hand-made. We have the vintage. We have the antique.  And we have the knowledge. We have the social skills, the customer service skills and experience. We know how to do this. We have always done it. We will continue to do it. We can conduct business without the internet if need be. We don't need these corporations. It's just that Internet sales has provided us with a new way to sell stuff over the last 20 years. 

So what now? 

The best thing to do as a seller is to get ready for the paradigm shift. Sales platforms are about to be greatly challenged by buy buttons on social media. Decide which one works for you, build a huge following and go for it. Shopify/pinterest have a great thing going, plus Wanelo is hooked into shopify too. FB is going to be good, but more costly. Instagram is owned by Facebook so we can expect a charge for that button when it arrives too. Twitter is hooked up with google and buy buttons are coming.

What else can you do as a seller? Learn about effective hashtagging for your product line. Hashtags are a new language that one has to learn. They are different for Instagram than Google. Pinterest and Facebook do not work with them. 

Very soon, sales platforms will be greatly rivaled and on the way out. Ebay lied, 11Main lied, Etsy sold out to China. We have to be ready to roll with the changes. 

I have of researched this extensively. You are all entrepreneurs with open minds for the new and changing. Mark my words, Social Media and buy it buttons are the next really, really big thing. How long will it last? Until the corporate greed goes too far. Then, we Americans will know what to do. We will find a way around it and make something new.  

We always do. 

21 Responses

Nance NANCES NOSTALGIA

Nance NANCES NOSTALGIA

August 01, 2015

Thanks for the great overview! I feel a little lost in the waves of language and sites to sell from; I know one thing that doesn’t seem to entirely change and that is the customer….the people like you and I. I am a strong swimmer tho and I am thirsty to learn and keep up! There is a seller for whatever the customer needs so keep up the good work and keep the communication open and flowing….very much appreciated.
Buttons for Social Media Sales !!!!? Where to start? Its never too late.

Luann Babics

Luann Babics

July 22, 2015

Great, very informative article! You nailed it!

Jennifer

Jennifer

June 26, 2015

Good points!

Joyce Toler Collins

Joyce Toler Collins

June 26, 2015

Linda! You nailed it! Thank you for this update on 11 Main too. I too jumped in after you told me about it when it started… Looking for another selling site after Etsy sold out and my sales started dropping. I sold like crazy with Hunters Alley…. Was so disappointed they shut down;( But back to 11 Main.., never sold anything! I was wondering how you were doing with it. I tried to get on OKL with my high end Miriam Haskell vintage items that were selling like crazy of their Sister company (HA) but they turned me down:( I am always looking for the next thing and hope you are right… About the “button” I too do FB and Instagram… But do not sell much from that. The best is pop ups & shows etc. … Which is a lot of work…. Keep us posted, Sister! PS. Love my turquoise bracelet!!

M from The Stay-at-Home Life

M from The Stay-at-Home Life

June 25, 2015

I’d actually never heard of 11Main. I’m sorry you have to deal with this!

Michelle Co

Michelle Co

June 25, 2015

These are helpful tips. We now know what to avoid.

Eva

Eva

June 25, 2015

Winderful write up. Right on target. Thank you for your time Linda!

R U S S

R U S S

June 25, 2015

This is very informative. I have this notion that selling stuff online should be a breeze – here in my country, there is an increasing number of online sellers as well as those who sell in Instagram. The latter is surprising and it’s quickly changing the selling scene. I think Etsy and Amazon are pretty reliable compared to other similar sites.

Elizabeth O.

Elizabeth O.

June 25, 2015

I am sorry I can’t relate. This is the first time I heard about 11Main. Good luck on your sales.

michelle hwee

michelle hwee

June 24, 2015

I actually didn’t know much about this at all. Though now I know quite a bit! Quite informative as well. Thanks for sharing :)

Liz Mays

Liz Mays

June 24, 2015

I didn’t realize there were so many things happening with these e-commerce sites. That’s so disappointing!

Linda

Linda

June 24, 2015

Thank you all for your wonderful comments.

Tina, I will mark your words as I think that Amazon may have some distinct areas that could lead to their demise.

Dara, You are one of the people who amaze me with your IG following and sales. I cannot seem to invest the time to do IG the right way. Owned by FB, I am sure that the buy button will change everything.

Carolyn, I am sorry to hear that you are leaving the business. We had high hopes for 11 Main, but what a huge disappointment it was.

Jerusha, You are so right on!

Sicorra-Exactly. That is one of the reason that they failed.

Nadine, It is a total adjustment of time. We did not know that we had it so good.

Tina

Tina

June 24, 2015

this is very interesting. I know things are changing all the time, and in our industry we see it every day. Even Amazon is a great example of the lion that is going to crumble in the near future (mark my words).

Dara

Dara

June 24, 2015

I sell on Etsy, I had never heard of Main11 until today. I’m sorry to hear they were sold. ): However I find most of my business can come from a great IG following and a perk? Instagram doesn’t have fees… yet. Thanks for the wealth of information and a different look on online sales!

Carolyn O'Bayley

Carolyn O'Bayley

June 24, 2015

Great job Linda. I closed my 11Main about a month ago. I too had about 10 sales over the period of a year. I had such great hopes..and yes. Hunters Alley was wonderful. I was only there at the very end, but did extremely well. Since I am closing all my shops by the end of the year, it is interesting to watch the shift in buying habits of the public. I agree with you. The public has money to spend. Now, it’s just a matter of helping them find your items to buy it.

Sicorra@NotNowMomsBusy

Sicorra@NotNowMomsBusy

June 24, 2015

Great info, as I have not come across any of this yet. I have actually never even heard of 11Main

Jerusha (TheDisneyChef.com)

Jerusha (TheDisneyChef.com)

June 24, 2015

I’ve actually never used 11Main, but as somebody who used to sell via a store on eBay, I saw the “sell it yourself” host/platform market swell after eBay became too greedy with their percents taken for sales. I find this take on the rise and fall of one of them to be fascinating, and a great way to screen out which platforms have it in them to go the distance vs the ones that don’t. – Jerusha, TheDisneyChef.com

Jason Young

Jason Young

June 24, 2015

Actually had no idea this was happening. Would be interesting to see if and how selling platforms pivot to accomodate changes.

Nadine

Nadine

June 23, 2015

Thanks for this great post! I totally get this and have been active in social media for a while, though sometimes inconsistently. I’ve definitely stepped it up my participation, specifically with the promotions you have instituted on Facebook, but wonder how I can handle it all. I now find I sometimes spend more time promoting than listing, etc…what to do?

Pamela H Lappin

Pamela H Lappin

June 23, 2015

Excellent take on the online shopping environment and the demise of 11Main.

Denise

Denise

June 23, 2015

Thank you so much Linda for the informative and inspiring post. It is so hard to figure out what is most beneficial for us to do in online sales. I so appreciate your input and your mention of my shop!!!!

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