Learn to buy and sell antiques and collectibles

11Main is DOOMED

11main.com
Reviewed by Terry Gibbs.
Rated: 1/ 5

In February, I saw an announcement of new auction site run by Vendio that would open later in 2014. Vendio provides tools for eBay sellers, and runs a huge auction site in mainland China, so 11Main should be a good competitor.

When I first looked at 11Main.com, the only information on the site was a "request invitation" form.

I filled out the form which was basically telling them what I sold, and giving them links to five of my eBay listings along with some simple history of my selling experience. I put about as much effort into this as I'd put into reading a menu at a restaurant I'd never been to before.

About a week later, I got an email telling me I'd been accepted:

Dear Terry,
Welcome to 11 Main! We are excited to have you as an 11 Main shop owner. To get the keys to open your shop, register here. (link removed)

For verification purposes, please enter the email address used to deliver this message when registering your 11 Main shop. If you have any questions, give us a call at (555) 555-1212, Mon-Fri, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. PT.

Happy selling,
11 Main

Clicking on the register link put me onto a Vendio page to create a "Free Vendio Account For 11Main." This asked me to choose a selling name, and password, and also give them permission to charge a credit card or my PayPal account.

I set it up with the same name and PayPal account I use on eBay, and got a screen that said it would be set up within 48 hours.

A few hours later, I got an email saying my account had been set up.

Since the new site wasn't launching for some time I did nothing.

Over the next few months, I got a stream of telephone calls and emails offering me support and help in loading my store. I found this encouraging. My thinking was 'this company is trying to do this right.'

In late April, during one of these phone conversations the representative told me they were only doing fixed price listings.

I don't do many fixed price listings on eBay because of space constraints. I don't have room for piles of sale items to sit around waiting for a buyer. I also don't want to have my money tied up in trying to squeeze every penny out of each item. (More on Fixed price listings.)

The fixed-price only angle really put me off 11Main, so I did nothing except not answer the phone when I saw Vendio on my caller ID box.

In early May, I got an email from 11Main saying they were opening the site to invited shoppers. I ignored that too.

On June 2nd, I got an email from them saying if I stocked my store before June 15th, I wouldn't have to pay any fees for the rest of the year. A few days later I mentioned this to someone who does a lot of fixed price listings on eBay and Amazon, and suggested he apply for an invitation.

Since I'd suggested Don should try out 11Main, I decided to put some stuff into the store so I'd get the fee free promotion.

I have cases of small, new in the box items that are easy to ship, and I figured I could list a few dozen of them, and then put the box out of the way. This would get me started, and if the site succeeded, I'd be able to easily add listings to my store.

When I first heard about 11Main, I was told I could import listings from other sites. Not from eBay, and I don't sell on the other sites so this isn't an option for me.

So, I looked for a form to load a listing. . .

NONE

There is no form or page to add a listing to 11Main! It turns out I have to create a csv file and then upload it. If you aren't familiar with it, a csv file is a database file where the variables are separated by commas.

If you're not familiar with csv files, don't feel bad. You shouldn't need to learn about creating databases to sell a few items online.

WHAT ARE THEY THINKING?

Vendio provides programs to support online sellers, but they don't feel the need to have a programmer spend an hour creating a simple program to create the csv file?

Now, I'm sure I could find a programmer to write a simple program that would show a form that organized the results into the right format. (I also think you can do this within Microsoft Access, but it has been decades since I used it.)

After being thwarted in my quest to quickly list a few items I could store easily on 11Main, I decided to check out the offerings. . .

CRAP.

It looks like the other sellers are either idiots chasing after idiots with money by listing worthless crap, or they are just loading garbage at inflated prices so they can avoid fees for the rest of the year without worrying about having to keep track of their sales so they don't sell the same items on two different sites.

The site looks like Yahoo Auctions before it failed. Yahoo was filled with lots of overpriced crap. I might have looked at Yahoo's Auction site 3 times before I decided it was a waste of time.

Yahoo failed because the shoppers didn't find items they wanted to buy at prices they were willing to pay.

Now, I'm looking at the toy categories, so there might be better items in some of the other categories, but I doubt it.

The reason I doubt there are better offerings in other categories is there is no reason for them to be listed. If there are "deals" on the site, they will quickly sell if found, and the crap will be left.

Let's consider eBay to make the point. . .

I just ran one of my saved searches on eBay to get some numbers. This search brings up any listing with the maker's name and any of 4 model numbers.

For auctions only eBay shows 178 results. I can see all these listings by quickly scrolling down one long page.

Of those perhaps 5 are of interest to me, another 100 or so are valid results because the maker reused the model numbers for things I'm not interested in, and the other 70 are just crap that comes up because the sellers are keyword spamming or using one of the model numbers as a personal tracking number.

Even with the spurious results, the 178 results are still a reasonable amount of listings for me to scroll through. (I see about 120-150 of these results every time I run the search. I've seen some of these for 5-8 years! )

The same search with the auctions only filter removed reveals 1041 results. That's 6 pages of results for me to scroll through to find the 5 or 8 listings that I want to see.

Now, I'm not going through six pages of listings to see how many show up week after week for years, but I'll guess 800-900 of the Fixed Price Listings are repeatedly listed on eBay.

Scrolling through this endlessly repeating list of crap is too much work. I'm sure I'm missing things I'd happily buy, but I'm not spending the time looking for them. I'm sure other eBay shoppers feel the same way.

Back to 11Main. . .

Is this what 11Main wants to build? A site with thousands of overpriced items that buyers will have to scroll past to find the few items they are interested in?

That will really keep buyers coming back.

What's Wrong Here?

  • Vendio is a company that sells tools to help people sell online that doesn't think it's important to create a simple form to add items to their site?
  • 11Main screens potential sellers - they rejected Don, and checks listings in stores BEFORE the stores go live, and yet ends up with overpriced garbage on their site.
  • 11Main spends the time hiring representatives to call sellers and offer advice, but is happy to accept any overpriced piece of crap on the site so shoppers will at least have something to look at.
  • 11Main is giving sellers an incentive to list crap by not being open to general shoppers and yet offering freedom from fees through the rest of 2014 if items are added to a store.

11Main.com is DOOMED.

It would be easy to say Vendio is afraid of over promising after the Obamacare exchange mess, but the government is supposed to screw everything up because that way they can solve the problems they create by passing out more of our grandchildren's money.

11Main is a business and doesn't have the luxury of wasting a future generation's money. They need to get it right the first time, and they haven't spent the time on the important things.

I've decided that rather than spending a few hours listing items on 11Main before June 15th so that I can avoid fees for the rest of the year, I'll spend my time fixing the brakes on my VW camper so I can get out of the 115 degree weather for a few days this summer.

I might be wrong here, but I doubt it.

Over the years I've written reviews like this about Yahoo Auctions (page gone), GreenZap payment services, the Exponent Trading eBay Consignment scam, Salehoo, and other sites that are long gone and best forgotten. 11Main might last a little longer than those other sites, but it will surely join them unless they get the crap off their site.

Terry

PS Here's some thoughts on competing with eBay:
  • I still think the only way a new site can take on eBay and succeed is to do auctions and get LiveAuctions to participate so collectors will start using the site.
  • I'd like to see a site where the categories are monitored by someone who knows a bit about the items being sold. Someone with tact and authority.
  • I'd like to see a site that says "Buyer Beware," and allows ethical sellers like us to stand out by giving great deals and fantastic service rather than a site that screams "Sellers Be Damned."
  • I'd like to see an auction site that understands attracting and keeping quality sellers is more important than having millions of unwanted or overpriced listings going around in circles. This would mean monitoring sell through rates and limiting sellers with low rates. Ebay monitors sell through rates, but doesn't prevent people from repeatedly listing the same garbage. Ebay just hides the listings in best match search results.
  • I'd be willing to pay more to list on an auction site if the site didn't toss out free listings to every Tom, Dick, and Mary with a piece of crap hoping an idiot will come buy.
  • I'd like to see a site that didn't force sellers to take their subsidiary's payment methods because they think buyers are too stupid to mail a check. (PayPal is a whole lot easier than dealing with checks, but the time saved may not be worth the cost. I won't publish my sales figures, but will ask you if spending an extra hour or two a week dealing with checks be worth $50-100 a week in savings?)


Many of the articles and free reports here on IWantCollectibles were originally sent to readers of my Antiques and eBay Newsletter. Not all articles make it onto the website, and readers also get notices of free reports and special offers.

Ted at his desk.

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