Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba is finally opened up its first direct-to-consumer online store to shoppers in the US, after launching it in beta last month only to selected users. We first reported on 11 Main in February this year. The US retail store is run by two Alibaba affiliates in the US, Vendio and Auctiva.

However, in line with 11 Main’s exclusivity approach, you still have to request an invitation in order to start shopping on the site.

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11 Main is inspired by the Main Street shopping experience found across the US, and it aims to connect online shoppers with a “hand-selected collection of shops and boutiques carrying items that help express one’s personal style” via its invite-only marketplace.

In that sense, although the mechanics of the site (connecting brands to consumers directly) is similar to Alibaba’s hugely-successful TaobaoAlibaba’s first US retail site 11 Main is now open to shoppers, but by invitation only, the approach is vastly different, given that Taobao welcomes anyone and everyone to shop in an extremely crowded online space.

Thumbnail image via Peter Parks/AFP/Getty Images