Over the years, the Chinese E-commerce market has transformed a lot for both consumers and sellers. A race to becoming the top Chinese eCommerce platform that results in the development of cutting-edge technology, in other words, opportunities.
The rise of upper-middle-class, as the drivers of consumption growth, a new generation of freer-spending, sophisticated consumers and the increasingly powerful role of the internet has pushed eCommerce giants to adapt and transformed.
Market places have been popping like crazy over the last 10 years: Tmall, Pinduoduo, Jd; Kaola, Red book, VIP, Taobao, Sunning.
There is a market place for every industry, every audience, and every budget. Let’s take a look into some of the most popular Chinese eCommerce platforms and understand their specifities.
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China E-Commerce Overview
E-commerce sales in China are on way to surpass expectations as they already reached $1.53 trillion in 2018. Back in 2017, e-commerce sales outpaced estimates by $44.41 billion, driven largely by sales from leader Alibaba’s Taobao and Tmall. Those two will still have a total of 58.2% this year, but Alibaba’s share is shrinking as the market diversifies with the emergence of retailers and newcomer Pinduoduo’s recent success.
In 2020, according to statistica “the revenue is expected to show an annual growth rate (CAGR 2020-2024) of 6.9%, resulting in a market volume of US$1,309,535m by 2024.”
From 2015 to 2018, Alibaba’s share of e-commerce sales in China fell from 77.6% to 53.5%. Alibaba’s e-commerce sales are now growing slower than the overall e-commerce growth rate 34.3% with Alibaba’s sales forecast to increase just 22.8%. Consumption among upper-middle-class is still growing so fast, over 17% per year and, by 2020, will account for $1.5 trillion in urban China. That compares with a 5% growth rate among emerging-middle-class and middle-class consumers.
Households will continue to make up a market because they will enter the lower rungs of the middle class over the next five years, these segments will still account for roughly half of the urban households. The emerging middle class and middle class will remain the biggest consumers in many categories, particularly such fast-moving consumer goods as personal-care products and detergents.
E-Commerce in China: Mobile eCommerce, Popular Mobile Platforms, and Social Media
Online wallets are the top payment method, nearly 33% of Chinese shoppers use it to complete transactions. Roughly half of all China’s eCommerce sales are made on mobile devices. There are dozens of mobile eCommerce platforms, but in 2017 Taobao had the most monthly active users at 253.2 million.
Other platforms like Meituan, JingDong, WeiPin, Tmall, eLeme, Baidu NuoMi, and DianPing all play an active role in the market, but none are nearly as popular as Taobao in terms of active monthly users.
2019 data announced by Alibaba “Annual active consumers on our China retail marketplaces reached 601 million, an increase of 25 million from the 12-month period ended June 30, 2018”
This platform is Pinduoduo. An app that work with rival giant Tencent and that is promoting social eCommerce. We will talk about it later in the post, don’t miss out.
Social media and eCommerce
We have observed a trend from social media apps to turn toward eCommerce in the last few years. The three biggest social media players used to WeChat, microblog Weibo, and social network QQ Zone. They are still big but a serious competitor has emerged: Short Videos App (Douyin/TikTok or Kuaishou for instance).
Wechat and its vision of eCommerce
WeChat allows retailers to feature online stores and has a convenient third-party payment function (Wechat pay).
It also features push messages to introduce new product lines or deliver promotions. U.S. companies interested in exploring social media avenues and working with these sorts of social media players should seek to work with a local marketing partner to develop a strategy and support execution.
China e-commerce Statistics 2018
- Chinese consumers moved more of their shopping online in 2018, sending e-retail sales past $1 trillion for the first time in the world’s leading e-commerce market. Retail web sales totaled 7.18 trillion yuan ($1.149 trillion) in 2018, an increase of 35% from 5.43 billion yuan ($869 billion) in 2017, according to China’s Ministry of Commerce.
- E-commerce growth accelerated past the 30% mark in 2017, after slumping to 26% in 2016 from 33% in 2015. China far outpaces the United States, the second-largest e-retail market in the world, in both sales and growth. While the U.S. Department of Commerce will not release its 2018 estimate of online retail sales until later this month, Internet Retailer estimates U.S. e-commerce growth of about 15% in 2018 to approximately $455 billion.
- China’s e-commerce exports rose 14.5 percent year on year to 6.3 trillion yuan (1 trillion U.S. dollars) in 2018, according to a report released by the E-commerce Research Center (ECRC). In the same year, the value of business-to-business (B2B) exports rose 13.3 percent to 5.1 trillion yuan. Online retail sales of e-commerce exports came in at 1.2 trillion yuan, up 21.2 percent year on year. The rapid expansion of cross-border e-commerce has offered opportunities for small and medium-sized enterprises to participate in world trade.
Five key trends driving China’s E-Commerce market
E-commerce shopping festivals
A new form of retail: online and offline are merging rather than competing
From online platform to media platform
China e-commerce: Great Chinese Online Marketplaces
With the development of new technologies, building a beautiful and dynamic website is not a big deal. The important thing that really matters is building a website that is relevant to your target customers. China is a challenging market for foreigns brands and Chinese netizens are difficult to please. They have a unique language, different symbolic colors, and philosophy, they face a different ecosystem and online regulations. This market is just too enormous to be ignored, so it’s important to adopt the best practices to set up your e-commerce design for China that will mean taking a big step for your brand’s success.
The principal Chinese E-commerce platforms include Taobao, Tmall and Alibaba.com. Taobao Marketplace is a China’s largest C2C shopping destination, where merchants are primarily individuals and small businesses. Tmall.com is China’s largest third-party B2C retail platform for local and foreign brands selling to Chinese consumers. Alibaba.com is the world’s largest B2B trading platform for SMEs engaged in the import and export business.
Tips: GMA helps the brand’s products join China’s most popular e-commerce platform. We provide comprehensive and diversified professional managed e-commerce services from the registration and opening online shops, store decoration design, upload product, daily customer communication operation, and maintenance, and optimization of promotional activities inside and outside the platform.
VIPShop focuses on discounts and flash sales. The online retailer partners with over 1,000 brands to bring certain amounts of items at a lower price for consumers. The site mainly covers clothing and electronics. It was one of very few Chinese tech stocks to list in the US this year.
Tips: GMA helps companies to integrate the platform
- Alibaba-owned Taobao is no unknown to the e-commerce industry. The C2C giant sells almost everything, from pets to vehicles. Taobao owes its success as the market leader in this industry by offering free registration for its users. Taobao.com is the most popular online shopping site in China. It is a consumer-to-consumer retail site.
- It’s a platform for small businesses and individual entrepreneurs to open online retail stores. It features a variety of items and cheap prices. In fact, the products are usually offered by small business owners, and buyers are very careful buying things, they check several aspects including the shop credit, costumer’s satisfaction rate, and comments before making your final decision.
- The app has recently launched it’s affiliate program: Taoxiaopu. Taobao has rebrand itself has a platform that encouraged entrepreneurship and young designer to find their fame online instead of being a the online version of a fake market.
- In the effort of rebranding themselves, Taoboa launched last summer a live streaming program in collaboration with Weibo. Live streaming is becoming incredibly popular and hard to avoid this days. Live streaming has proved itself to increase ROI and Conversion rate.
Another Alibaba-owned business, Tmall focuses on B2C services. It’s a virtual mall that plays host to many brands’ main online retailing presence, notably companies like Gucci, Calvin Klein, Burberry and many more. Tmall.com is a business-to-consumer online retail store, a sister site of Taobao.com.
It is more high end than taobao and the requirement to enter as a seller are high. The idea is simple, only quality sellers are allowed, when one is ordering on Tmall, one does not have to worry about what he/she will receive. For more details about our Tmall services click here
Tmall also offers a crossborder service for foreign entities that do not have a presence in China and whishes to try out the market. The requirements are still quite high. In summer 2019 however, the platform has released TOF (Tmall Oversea Fulfillment) to encourages smaller brands and give them a chance on the Chinese market.
- Consulting & Strategy
- Tmall Store design
- Marketing and Promotion for Tmall
- Tmall Management
Tmall B2D has implemented a new B2D strategy (Business to developers) to resolve the problem of distribution in China. This solution is considered as the new revolution of distribution in China because major companies like Alibaba have started to find ways to arrange this market.
Tmall B2D manages to connect distributors with the brand directly to avoid any intermediate connections, by gathering all distributors and helping them to connect with the brand. this platform allows significant gains for all participants (the final customer, as the intermediary distributors) and therefore the success of the product and its brand in China.
Founded in 1998, JD.com is the largest B2C online retailer in China and one of the biggest competitor to Alibaba. It provides about 400,000 new products including cell phones, home appliances, apparel, wedding events, electronics, books and more. It also has an English version website en.jd.com. It features fast delivering service and guaranteed product quality. The main problem is it does not support instant online customer service and its customer-service phone is hard to get through.
JD Mall offers direct sales of electronics products, general merchandise, books, home appliances, digital communications, apparel, food, and other goods. JD Mall’s cross-border service, JD Worldwide, allows international merchants to sell directly to Chinese consumers without a physical presence in China. The company has the largest fulfillment JD Logistics which provide business partners with supply chain solutions, including warehousing, delivery, and after-sales service. Lear more about our JD.COM services just click here.
- JD.COM store Setup
- JD.COM Design
- JD products Update
- JD store Management
- JD Promotion
Little Red Book
Little Red Book, founded in 2013, has 70 million mostly young users. Its app combines social media and e-commerce. Kaola.com, which specializes in imported products, has established a reputation as a reliable online retailer. Miranda Qu, co-founder of Little Red Book, on a visit to Tokyo in mid-January for a business meeting, said “stories” drive the smartphone generation to make purchases. She was speaking to a group of Japanese retailers hoping to sell their products in China on the Little Red Book platform. Young people, Qu said, do not make purchases mainly to possess things. Instead, they enjoy the story behind the things they buy.
- RED Store Setup
- Influencers Campaign
- Ecommerce Management
Last but not least: Pinduoduo, the king of chinese social eCommerce
In the summer 2019 many thing happened in the Chinese eCommerce world, including Pinduoduo beating Jd.com has second largest e-commerce platform behind Tmall. For years, Pinduoduo has been focusing on smaller Chinese cities by offering the best deal and the possibility to users to work and in hand to get items at bulk price.
2019 was the time for Pinduoduo to walk on Taobao’s footsteps and show what it was capable of. Not only the app work directly with suppliers reducing cost of sold items but it has focused on affiliation working hand in hand with Wechat. Pinduoduo buyers can get discounts, gifts and even free items by promoting, sharing link and pushing peoples to register on Pinduoduo.
This affiliation program worked so well that Taobao’s later launched it’s own affiliation program know as taoxiaopu.
The app offers many benefits to sellers such as:
- No registration requirements
- No sales fees
- Cheap advertising
- The possibility of showing the total of sales outside the platforms (great to increase conversion)
To sum up:
We love the current dynamic in the Chinese eCommerce world. Because the platforms are racing the be the most attractive to customers and brands, we see the development of new marketing tools that to us are full of opportunities. This race not only means more tools for seller and buyer but also relaxed requirements to register on these plateforms. Believe me it used to be a challenged.
With the development of new technology, one seems to overshadow the rest: Video. Live streaming by Kols has of course a huge impact on sales conversion but short video ads are also part of the game with unicorn app such as Douyin.
Gentlemen Marketing Agency
We Build your Store, We Promote your Business and You Make it Thrive. There are many ways to sell online in China. Contact us now to discover which solution fits your business best! We Setup Stores and run smart Digital Marketing Campaigns in China.
Gentlemen Marketing Agency is an innovative marketing & E-Commerce Agency in China. Our solutions are designed to help you achieve your business goals in China. We have 7+ years’ experience in providing an invaluable online strategy to companies looking to penetrate or develop their activity in the Chinese market. We seek to form long-term partnerships with serious projects.