Following China’s digitalization and innovation in terms of new technologies, Chinese consumers are more than ever using e-commerce platforms in their daily lives. This has contributed to the growth and success of companies like Alibaba, with its shopping platforms Taobao (consumer-to-consumer) and Tmall (business-to-consumer). E-commerce platforms have become an eldorado for companies that want to expand their activities in China. However, as everything is different, it might be complicated to understand the differences between Chinese e-commerce platforms. In this article, we will focus on Tmall’s international platform: Tmall Global. So, if you want to export your products in China, you will find some explanations, tips, and advice about Tmall Global.

What is Tmall Global?

Launched in 2014 by the giant Alibaba Group, Tmall Global (天猫国际) is the international version of China’s leading online marketplace: Tmall. Known as the most famous and largest cross-border B2C platform, Tmall Global (aka Tmall.hk) offers both wholesale (B2B) and retail (B2C) models for international merchants and has evolved to be a trusted platform to purchase imported products. To understand Tmall’s popularity, we can see that there are more than 20,000 international brands that are registered on the platform, in more than 77 countries. The platform also has a large variety of products, with more than 4000 categories. Tmall Global has been the 6th moth used online store in China, and 65% of Chinese customers use its app on their smartphone. It is also important to know that 78% of Tmall Global customers also use Tmall.com.

If we look at this graphic, we can see that as of 2020, Tmall Global had more than one-third of the entire import cross-border B2C e-commerce retailers. 

Why should you be Tmall Global?

You have to know that Chinese consumers are extremely cautious when it comes to purchasing products. Thus, they tend to think that foreign products have a better quality than some Chinese products for example. By selling your goods on Tmall Global, you will be able to reach a wide audience as well as increase your visibility. As you probably alreday know, China is one of the most promising market in the world.

You also have to take into account that the online penetration of China’s overall retail has reached 33% in 2020.

“Brands, particularly small- and medium-sized players that have been hard-hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, are trying to find new channels to grow. In China, e-commerce platforms such as Tmall Global are consumers’ preferred avenues for purchasing overseas products.”

– Maggie Liu, Tmall Global’s General Manager
Tmall Global’s Website

The platform is easy to use, and consumers can find almost everything on it, from video game consoles to makeup. With the rising purchasing power of Chinese consumers, it is easier for foreign brands to sell their products at a higher price than Chinese products.

Tmall Global’s Audience

You might also want to know which part of the population is using Tmall global? In fact, Tmall Global is mostly used by female under 35 with an annual income of over RMB100,000 ($14,500) who are living in big cities.

You will have to take these information into consideration, as it can help you target specific consumers and plan your advertising and marketing strategy beforehand.

What products do Chinese consumers purchase on Tmall Global?

Imported clothes, household items, accessories and luxury products are highly appreciated by Chinese consumers. For example, luxury imported cars such as Lamborghini and Mercedes have seen a 400% growth over the years. 

However, if we look at the most popular products on Tmall Global, we can see that Beauty & Personal Care represents more than a quarter of global sales. Luxury sales are also on the rise, + 159% as of 2021 Q1.

Then, Chinese consumers are fond of health supplement products. Finaly, following a food safety scandal about powder milk a few years ago, there was also in increase in demand for mother and baby products, especially for foreign baby formula products.  Thus, Chinese parents want to provide what’s best for their family. They also want to try new experiences and new products. 

Examples of Italian products on Tmall

China is also the biggest online market for wine, topping global internet sales or other countries like the UK, U.S, France, etc. Chinese consumers in fact love foreign products.

An increasing number of foreign brands have joined Tmall

Following Tmall’s huge success, the online apparel market has seen international brands such as Zara, Burberry, Calvin Klein, and Sephora entering the Chinese market by opening Tmall Flagship Stores.

Sephora’s Flagship Store on Tmall Global

In fact, it is estimated that 40% of online consumers are buying foreign / imported goods. Thus, foreign brands know that China is a wonderful opportunity to drastically increase their sales, thanks to the 731 million internet users (more than twice the number of internet users in the U.S).

Screenshot of Tmall Global’s Website

As you can see, many international brands have joined Tmall to sell their products to Chinese consumers, such as Casio, Burberry, Louis Vuitton, etc. Tmall Global is really popular in China because Chinese consumers want to buy directly from global brands instead of spending money on intermediary platforms.

How to join Tmall & Tmall Global?

There are 2 ways to join Tmall’s platform:

  • Companies with China in-country business operations can apply to Tmall.com.

As an open platform marketplace, Tmall.com provides the infrastructure to host your storefront and unfiltered access to hundreds of millions of shoppers. It is much like operating your own B2C website, offering autonomy from design to operations to fulfillment and logistics.

  • Companies with overseas licenses are eligible for Tmall Global.

What are the differences between Tmall & Tmall Global?

Depending on your situation, you will be able to choose between Tmall.com or Tmall Global. Moreover, it is also possible for the biggest brands to open their online stores on both Tmall.com and Tmall Global. If you want to have more informations about that, you can contact us.

Tmall Global’s Business Model

Thanks to Tmall Global stores, which are also called “Flagship stores”, you’ll be able to reach more than 300 million rising middle-class Chinese consumers. The brand flagship store is an online storefront hosted on Tmall Global that you’ll be able to operate yourself with the help of a Tmall partner (TP). It will enable you to sell your products directly to Chinese consumers through Tmall’s logistics.

How does it works?

How to open an account on Tmall Global?

If you want to start your business on Tmall Global, it is mandatory to open an official Tmall Global account which can reassure Chinese customers.

Having an online store on Tmall Global can save your time and money, as you don’t need to have an entity in China, whereas setting up an account on Tmall.com requires a legal presence in China, which takes time and money.

How do we help you register on Tmall Global?

Applying for Tmall requires time and money. It is a long process that is entirely in Chinese, which can be difficult for you if you don’t speack Chinese. By working with a profesionnal agency, you won’t have to do all of that.

As a digital marketing agency, we an easily open an official account for you on Tmall global. 

These are our services

Qualifications for selling on Tmall Global

Foreign merchants who want to sell on Tmall Global’s platform must meet at least the following requirements:

1. Owning an overseas company entity

2. Be the brand owner / have brand authorization, and provide a complete product purchase certificates from the brand side.

There are four types of stores available for foreign companies on Tmall Global:

  • Flagship store
  • Flagship store (marketplace type for services)
  • Authorized stores
  • Specialty store

Moreover, it is important to know that you’ll have to prove that you have enough money to cover all the expenses and that your company have been running for at least 2 years. Your annuel sales must reach over $10 million in order to be accepted.

How much does it cost to be on Tmall Global?

Tmall requires a deposit between US$8,000 to US$25,000 depending on the store format. The e-commerce platform also charges an annual service fee, which varies according to the product category which can be between US$5,000 or US$10,000.

However, marketers can be exempted of these charges, or pay only half or the full-service fee if they reach Tmall’s predefined sales target. In addition, Tmall keeps 5% of the sales value as a commission.

Products and services requirements

Example of foreign stores on Tmall Global

Commodities: The Tmall Global Guarantee Program claims authentic products that are produced or sold overseas to enter the market formally through Chinese customs and international logistics. It means that foreign brands are not able to store their products on their own in Mainland China.

Brand store page: Commodity information should be translated in Chinese. Using the international metric system as measurement units, and equipped with Chinese customer services.

Logistic services: Delivery should be completed within 120 hours. Products should be delivered from bonded warehouses in Chinese Free Trade Zone or directly from overseas to mainland consumers.

After-sale services: A return point must be set up in Mainland China.

Branding is essential if you want to conquer the Chinese market

Branding is the key to success for businesses, especially for new and small companies. For some foreign brands which are unable to open their own retail store in China, joining Tmall Global is a good way to reach their target.

Tmall’s  Cosmetics landing page

A few years ago, Tmall Global took the initiative to attract foreign companies by inviting them to join the platform. However, as the competition is getting tougher, brands now need to apply on their own or get their attention in order to be invited.

E-reputation is the key

Because of China’s rising use of social media and e-commerce platforms, it has become essential for brands to maintain and increase their online reputation. Thus, you will have to be extremelly careful and attentitive to Chinese consumers’ comments. You will also have to create an official account on the biggest and most popular social platforms (WeChat, Weibo, Douyin, Kuaishou, etc).

Promote Your Business/brand with Kols

KOL marketing on Chinese social media

In China, KOLs (Key Opinion Leaders) are extremely propular as they can be a powerful way to increase your sales, as well to promote your brand. It is also an efficient way to promote your brand’s e-reputation and awareness.

However, you will need to choose carefully the KOL you want to work with, as it has to suit your brand’s value in order to manage a succesful campaign.

SEO will boost your brand’s reputation

It is crucial to rely on SEO and other popular social media platforms. The majority of the population uses the search engine Baidu to do researchs. Baidu is indeed the most popular search engine in China, with approximately 70% of the total market share.

So, if you want to do business in China, you’ll need to have a good ranking on Baidu to be visible. Chinese consumers will only purchase products from brands that have a high ranking on Baidu.

Chinese social media are essential for your advertising and marketing strategy

If you want to succeed in China and attract thousands of customers everyday, you should use various social media platforms to increase your e-reputation. With 1.2 billion monthly active users, WeChat is a must-have for brands that want to conquer the Chinese market.

Huaxizi

Social media platforms are amazing thanks to their creative and convenient features. For brands, it’s really easy to communicate with your target audience and develop a strong community of followers. Having an account on WeChat enables you to easily promote your brand on a vast ecosystem of apps and websites.

Besides WeChat, Weibo is also a great choice for gaining E-reputation for business. Weibo is the second most popular app in China, with around 82% penetration rate across the country and more than 550 million users as of 2020.

If you still don’t know which platform to use between Tmall.com and Tmall Global, you can read our complete article about Tmall.com:

We set you up on Tmall & Tmall Global

If you want to know more about Tmall Global (and Tmall), or if you have any other questions about selling your goods in China, do not hesitate to contact us and we will get in touch with you within 24 hours. 

Gentlemen Marketing Agency is specialized in digital marketing in the Chinese market. Do not hesitate to contact us if you want to talk about your projects in China.

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8 Comments

  1. Hi,
    my company is located in Croatia and we would like to open shopn on tmall, what is the process for foregin business?
    Sincerely,
    Spiritus Orientalis j.d.o.o.

  2. Hello there,
    We are well known high end shoes brand proudly produced in Malaysia. We would like to know how to generate retailing platform for our first planned digital flagship on TMall. Appreciate if someone in charge to reply me as above.
    Thank you and with loving kindness.

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