China is the world’s largest e-commerce market. It will reach US$1.55 billion in sales by 2024 and global, international e-commerce platforms control a market share of over 92 percent, foreign engagement with the Chinese online retail sector is at its most prolific. The Chinese e-commerce landscape is changing a lot, with new players joining the game, to adapt to Chinese consumers’ needs and shopping behaviors.

Selling products through Chinese e-commerce platforms is a must for all foreign brands, especially those without a presence in China. But how to do it without an offline presence in the country? Today we will present 5 e-commerce platforms that adopt a more international business model, allowing for cross-border e-commerce.

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Chinese eCommerce Market Overview

The Chinese eCommerce market is a global phenomenon. There is no nation that would be more used to and advanced in online shopping, which is well-fueled by online shopping infrastructure, unseen anywhere else. Big Chinese eCommerce platforms and e-commerce websites with the possibility of buying literally anything, fast mobile payment methods, same-day deliveries, returns, and competitive prices help the market grow at a record speed every year.

The Chinese e-commerce market is on its way to surpassing expectations and is expected to reach 1.55 billion U.S by 2024. It’s expected to represent more than 60% of total retail sales in the country.

china ecommerce value 2017-2025

In 2017, the e-commerce landscape in China was fueled by the two most popular Chinese eCommerce platforms from Alibaba Group: Taobao, and Tmall, with sales reaching $44.41 billion. Today, just 5 years later, e-commerce in China is a role model to all the markets in the world. Covid helped the growth, even more, convincing older generations to online shopping.

Cross-border e-commerce in the Chinese market

Cross-border e-commerce is booming in the Chinese market as more and more Chinese consumers are looking for products that are not available in China. The most popular categories of products that are purchased through cross-border e-commerce channels are clothing, cosmetics, and health supplements.

Chinese consumers prefer to purchase products from foreign brands because they trust the quality and authenticity of these products. Another reason why Chinese consumers prefer to buy products from foreign brands is that they perceive these brands as being cooler and trendier than domestic brands.

Top e-Commerce Platforms in China

In order to capitalize on the growth of cross-border e-commerce in China, businesses need to understand the preferences of Chinese consumers and create marketing campaigns that resonate with them.

Here is the list of the most popular e-commerce platforms among Chinese consumers:

Tmall Global

Tmall is China’s largest online marketplace selling domestic and international branded merchandise. Tmall is owned by the Alibaba Group. It provides a marketplace for foreign brands to open exclusive shop fronts.

Tmall Global e-commerce platform was launched back in 2013. It only sells imported goods. Thanks to Tmall International, brands without a physical presence in China can sell directly to Chinese consumers. Therefore, it is a great opportunity for foreign brands willing to sell in China without a physical location all the costs and level of risk associated with this.

However, Tmall Global now operates via an invitation-only policy where only qualified merchants are either invited to join or may apply through a certified third-party agency (TP). Consequently, the necessity of TP cooperation has complicated the process of building up a store on the Tmall Global e-commerce platform. For foreign companies looking to set up an online store with no physical presence, JD Worldwide is an increasingly attractive option.

tmall global vs tmall: registration requirements

Tmall Eligibility requirements

You must have a registered corporate entity outside of Mainland China. You must possess retail and trade qualifications overseas. You must be the brand owner or authorized agency or possess the purchase voucher. You must possess the relevant stock certificate.

Tmall Global targets

Corporations that have been operating for over two years with annual sales exceeding US$10 million. Branded B2C overseas businesses. Brand owners or authorized agencies.

Tmall Warehouse and logistics

Tmall Global cooperates with certain FTZs in China to provide select merchants with a bonded warehouse service.

Merchants should either ship packages straight from overseas or store their products in a bonded warehouse in China for shipment to consumers. A Chinese address is mandatory to ease product return.

Tmall is Suitable for:

Large international brands with demonstrated potential to achieve a large volume of sales or high revenue.

Hypermarkets, like JD and Taobao, allow independent sellers to list products or operate shop fronts. Online hypermarkets are vertically integrated, multi-category marketplaces that purchase straight from suppliers in order to sell through their own network. These hypermarkets operate a proprietary online e-commerce platform and an in-house logistics network providing same-day delivery.

Selling to a hypermarket is done via negotiation with a procurement manager. Exporters are not required to manage distribution or a shopfront but must provide official marketing collateral to promote their products.

JD is China’s largest online, direct sales company. JD allows sellers to open individual shop fronts and can import food, beverage products, apparel, and shoes straight from overseas. JD’s cross-border service, JD Worldwide, allows merchants to sell straight to Chinese consumers without a Chinese presence.

JD distinguishes itself from Tmall Global via active global promotion of JD Worldwide (particularly in the U.S. and Australia) and the provision of a leading in-house logistics service. Furthermore, JD boasts a zero-tolerance policy with regard to counterfeit products.

chinese ecommerce platforms: JD

JD Entry Requirements

  • Registered corporate identity out of Mainland China, with registration capital + RMB 500,000;
  • Possess retail and trade qualifications overseas;
  • Be the brand owner or authorized agency or possess the purchase voucher; and
  • Possess the relevant stock certificates.

JD promotes 3 modes of operation

  • Franchising Business Partner – It allows sellers to build up stores in JD and get the facility to use the JD warehouse to stock their own products. JD takes full responsibility for providing warehousing, delivery, and customer service. Which is a great thing for merchants!
  • Licensing Business Partner – Merchants can set up a store and complete packaging in order to ship the order. JD will supervise customer service and process invoices.
  • Self-Operation Partner – Merchants may sell on the JD platform, although warehousing and delivery must be handled by the merchants themselves

JD Warehouse and logistics

Merchants can use a warehouse service provided by JD through selected packages.

Sellers can use a logistic service provided by JD through selected packages. JD’s 211 same-day and next-day delivery programs cover 135 and 951 counties and districts, respectively.


Kaola is one of the most popular cross-border e-commerce platforms in China and it’s known for offering competitive prices for overseas products and services.

Launched in 2015, the company offers products from over 200 countries and regions to Chinese consumers. The company’s website allows customers to browse and order products from around the world, including food, cosmetics, clothes, and home appliances. It maintains quality by setting up purchasing teams in foreign cities such as Tokyo and tries to keep prices down by negotiating directly with manufacturers.

Kaola is considered one of the most reliable cross-border e-commerce platforms and the company was bought by the Alibaba Group in 2019 for $2 billion. Alibaba intends to allow Kaola to continue operating under its current branding but will inject some additional resources to improve the consumer experience on the platform.

Most Chinese consumers on Kaola are young women who are purchasing foreign clothes, cosmetics and health supplements on this e-commerce platform.

Kaola offers 3 business models

  • wholesale buying
  • online marketplace
  • integration with a seller’s own website

Kaola is foreign-company friendly, which means that overseas merchants can have official account on the platform and register for sales there. In order to be able to sell on this e-commerce platform, you need to fill an application form on the website and go through verification process.

WeChat stores in mini-programs

WeChat is the most used lifestyle sharing platform and messaging app in China, with monthly active users exceeding 1.26 billion. It offers many amazing features for users and businesses and it’s a definite must for everyone wanting to get in touch with Chinese consumers.

In recent years WeChat answered to the needs of Chinese eCommerce world, by allowing local and international brands to open their own flagship stores in WeChat mini-programs, which are mini apps inside WeChat, that Chinese customers to shop without leaving the platform.

Gucci wechat store
Gucci Store on WeChat

WeChat stores are a great way to promote and sell your products or services to a wider audience, as they’re very easy to set up and use. You can create and manage your store from within the WeChat app, and customers can buy your products or services using their WeChat account.

There are many third-party services offering WeChat mini-programs set up and they are way cheaper and easier to manage than stores on Tmall or WeChat shops are a great way to test the market and see if Chinese consumers are interested in your products. They are also very shareable, meaning it’s very easy to promote them on WeChat and other social media platforms.


Social e-commerce platforms

One of the most interesting trends we have seen in recent years, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, is the rise of social e-commerce trends, driven by young generations. Younger consumers are very connected to social media and they use it daily, to connect with friends, follow their favourite key opinion leaders, check brands, watch tv series, play games, and many more. Social media platforms are the most important tool for your marketing strategy in China.

When it comes to China’s e-commerce landscape, Chinese e-commerce platforms are starting to buy more social, and social media platforms are adding e-commerce features. Online shopping is becoming more and more social, where people can share between each other links to products and services, influencers can put those in live-streaming sessions and companies can communicate and socialize with their consumers via social media.

social ecommerce

One of the greatest social media e-commerce platforms is Xiaohongshu, also called Little Red Book. It has over 200 million active users and is one of the most popular platforms in China, constantly adding new features, like paid advertising, live-streaming, and now – eCommerce.

It’s based on user-generated content, where users and influencers share their opinions and recommendations of products. Following its initial success, the app entered the Chinese eCommerce platforms game with its RED Store, mainly targeted at high-end foreign brands. This is definitely a platform to go for if you’re in fashion or beauty industry.

Chinese Social media: Little Red Book social ecommerce platform

But there are more social media platforms adding e-commerce features to their offer (like Douyin, Kuaishou, and more) and it depends on your audience to chose the best option for your brand.

In order to be able to sell on those platform, you need to register for Official account first, and then file a form to open a shop.


Do You Want to Sell Your Products in China? Contact Us!

TMall Global, JD, Kaola or social media platforms allow foreign enterprises to choose which site will suit best for their products. If you are a foreign company interested in selling your products to the Chinese market, our experts can help you analyze which platform is best for you to sell your products. Then, they will also help you to set up your e-commerce store.

contact GMA

We offer many services depending on your goals and budget. If you’re interested in selling your products on Tmall, as you read our article you know, that you will need to work with a certified Tmall Partner. We offer you Tmall services as an official TP and more. Apart from Tmall, we offer many services, such as:

Contact us here if you want more information. Our experts have a lot of experience in this field. Their knowledge of this fascinating e-commerce market is vast.

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  1. Hello There
    I am e retailer. Our company sells Consumer eelectronics, Home and kitchen accessories, Automobiles accessories etc.
    I am from India .We sell on, and many.Now i want to sell in Chinese marketplaces like Tmall,Taobao,JD and Yihaodian etc.
    My Question is
    1.What is elegibilty criteria
    2.Can i sell on Taobao whichout having physical existence in china? ?
    3.How to start this stuff
    Thank you

  2. Dear Sir/Madam,

    We are a wholesaler and online clothing retailer selling a wide variety of products on Amazon, eBay and our own independent website ( ). We sell in the UK, across Europe and to the US and have been trading now for over 6 years.

    A large part of our range includes socks, hosiery and night wear, including officially licensed character merchandise. These include pyjamas, onesies, hats, socks & underwear, bags, bedding & blankets featuring Paw Patrol, Finding Dory, Simpsons, Disney Frozen, Mickey & Minnie Mouse, Marvel Avengers, Spiderman etc.

    We are now in the process to expand our Business and would like to sell our product to more globally, like Tmall,Taobao,JD and Yihaodian etc.

    Could someone please advice us where to start?

    If you have any further queries do not hesitate to contact us.

    Our New Warehouse is based in Manchester.

    Many thanks

  3. Dear Admin / All
    Our company, based in South Korea, exports Korean cosmetic products and others that buyers need.
    We newly invented and produced a trendsetting product, called “Diet-Vitamin”
    It has been widely very popular in Korea, and we figured it will be demanded highly in China as well.
    Korean beauty products have been very popular in China and other Asian countries so far.
    And for our products, we will eventually export it worldwide, but China has become one of our top choices to export to.
    So now, we are looking for buyers or sellers from China mainland.
    For anyone who is interested in our products, I will send you an email on our company overview and product overview.
    I promise this product will be a trendsetter as it not only helps looses weight but also good for health as it being vitamin.


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