How Tmall works and how to utilise it to sell in China

02 Apr 2020

How to sell on Alibaba through Tmall

In this period of uncertainties and lockdowns, now more than ever there is the need to develop effective alternative strategies necessary for competing in the Chinese market. Here is how to sell on the most important Asian online marketplace, Alibaba, through Tmall, a platform with enormous potential and waiting to be discovered.

Tmall the main e-commerce platform for online sales in China

Approaching the eastern market through TMall means choosing the main Chinese marketplace, with a dominant, pervasive presence and a staggering growth in the last three years, which, despite the economic crises, is set to increase exponentially also in the near future.

The e-commerce turnover in China is impressive, with figures continuing to rise year-on-year:

  • In 2019, the Chinese online shoppers were over 722 million
  • In 2020, the number of active buyers is expected to reach 800 million
  • In 2019, the e-commerce sector generated revenues for 723 billion USD
  • Over the 2020-21 two-year period, a turnover increase of 18pc is expected

Being active on Alibaba through TMall means having enormous opportunities for interacting with the Chinese public and developing a customer journey capable of conquering the local public, so vast and varied.

Why choose TMall?

First, because it represents the largest gateway to the online Chinese shopping world, managing 57% of the entire B2C market and over 20% of the B2B market. TMall’s numbers have contributed to making Alibaba —which controls both platforms —the most flourishing and popular e-commerce in the world, capable of rivalling Amazon.

The huge growth, flexibility and absolute reliability of TMall, allow companies to sell all types of products in total confidence. In fact, only selected and verified brands are accepted and, through the Alipay e-payment system, users can make their purchases without a credit card.

In addition, the platform provides members with useful tools for monitoring the sales flow and accesses to their online shop window, so as to adjust their commercial and marketing strategies according to the data collected.

In short, being on TMall ensures your brand all the prerequisites for approaching the Chinese public in the best possible way, as over 20,000 international brands from 77 countries have already decided to do, with over 4,000 different product categories.

Differences between TMall and TMall Global

TMall, as mentioned, is the most important Chinese marketplace, open to brands with physical presence in the country of the Great Wall. All companies not directly operating on the territory can sell their products through TMall Global.

Similarities and differences between the two platforms


  • Targeted at all Chinese consumers
  • For purchases within the domestic market
  • For companies registered in China
  • With Chinese bank account
  • A Chinese headquarters
  • And a brand registered in China
  • For shipments within China to the Chinese public

TMall Global

  • Targeted at all Chinese consumers
  • For purchases within the domestic market or from abroad
  • For companies registered outside the Chinese territory
  • With a bank account in the home country
  • And a brand registered anywhere in the world
  • For shipments from abroad to the Chinese public


A successful path of growth with the right support

Numbers, volumes and large traffic of potential buyers are precisely the reasons why anyone who wants to sell online in China joins TMall, or at least try to. Opening a TMall account takes time, with a comprehensive process which can take several months, as in fact the applicant must provide accurate documentation and develop an optimised storefront.

In order to start operating, efficiently managing all sales activities, customer service and logistics, specific skills and a far different presence than that envisaged by western platforms are necessary. The process of optimising the system for Chinese search engines and taking utmost care of all details require a dedicated multi-disciplinary team, internal or external to the company.

A team capable of providing the right support throughout the commercial and organizational stages and able to set a growth path that will enable to gain ground in the Chinese e-commerce market, the fastest and most fruitful in the world. It may be a winding path, but it is a path well worth taking.


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