What is Tmall and How Can You Use it to Reach Customers in China?



What is Tmall and How Can You Use it to Reach Customers in China? - #Gateway17

At the Gateway ‘17 business conference this week, entrepreneurs learned about the different methods you can use to get products in front of Chinese consumers. One of those is Tmall.

Tmall is an online marketplace where Chinese consumers can purchase anything from health food to athletic shoes. But there’s more to it than that. Small Business Trends attended Gateway’17 June 20 and 21 at Cobo Center in Detroit. Here’s an overview of the platform outlined to attendees at the event and what it can provide for businesses interested in selling in China.



What is Tmall?

Tmall is an online marketplace created specifically for Chinese consumers. It is operated in China by Alibaba. But if you’re thinking that it’s just the Chinese version of Amazon, you’re mistaken. The shopping experience in China is much different than it is in the U.S. And so Tmall has some features and characteristics that reflect that.

“It’s basically a virtual shopping mall,” said Amee Chande, managing director of global strategy and operations for Alibaba Group during a presentation at Gateway ‘17.  One unique feature, Chande said, is that brands are able to create a more customizable experience for their customers within their own storefronts

Additionally, Tmall is a marketplace only for trusted brands and products in demand with Chinese consumers. There’s another online marketplace called Taobao where anyone can sign up for an account and sell basically any type of product. But to sell on Tmall, you have to be accepted as a trusted brand or wholesaler.

What Are the Benefits of Using Tmall?

Since Tmall is a trusted name for Chinese consumers, using the platform to sell your products can help you instantly build some of that trust for your own brand.





There are a few different routes you can go with this. You can set up your very own store, which requires some work upfront but allows you to control basically the entire experience. You can do this if you have operations in China or if you are going to be shipping your products into the country.

But you can also sign up as a wholesaler. In this case, you would still be able to sell your products under your own brand name. But you wouldn’t have your own storefront to maintain. You instead sell them under a Tmall store, which is responsible for things like marketing, logistics and customer service.

In addition, you can use Tmall partners to help you with everything from trade rules to translation. The process of finding those partners can take some time. But if you find the companies that are the best fit for your business, they can help you create a seamless transition into the Chinese market.

Finally, Tmall offers some unique marketing features like livestreaming and news feeds similar to those on Facebook. So this creates an interactive platform that people actually check and shop with regularly. Chande explained that young shoppers often visit Tmall multiple times per day to check news feeds from their favorite brands.

What Types of Products Can You Sell on Tmall?

Technically, you can sell anything that is from a trusted brand or in demand with Chinese consumers. But there are a few product categories that are significantly more popular than others. They include:





  • Apparel, accessories and footwear
  • Beauty and skincare
  • Mom and baby
  • Personal care
  • Electronics

There are tons of different products that fit into these categories. So if your product line fits, or if you know you have something that is really in demand in China, you may just want to look into opportunities on Tmall.

Image: Tmall.com More in: 2 Comments ▼


Annie Pilon


Annie Pilon Annie Pilon is a Senior Staff Writer for Small Business Trends, covering entrepreneur profiles, interviews, feature stories, community news and in-depth, expert-based guides. When she’s not writing she can be found on her personal blog Wattlebird, and exploring all that her home state of Michigan has to offer.

2 Reactions

  1. Aira Bongco

    China is a big market and it is worth tapping. And malls are great for their culture. So I think that this is actually a good idea.

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