Ever wonder how to sell in China? Online Chinese marketplaces are the way to go. With a population of more than 1.4 billion, there’s no shortage of potential customers for your product or service. And if you’re looking to expand into new markets, this is one of the best ways to do it! Read on for our top 5 online marketplaces where you can sell in China and start profiting from this massive country today:
- Taobao & Tmall: The most popular e-commerce websites in China
- JD.com: A Chinese company that has grown tremendously since its founding in 2004;
- Bonus: VIPshop, Pinduoduo and Kaola.
1. Taobao & Tmall: the biggest Chinese Online Marketplace
Chinese platforms such as Baidu, Tencent provide various functions and services. In terms of Alibaba, it is similar to Amazon, which is both operate as online stores. In comparison with Amazon, which provides B2C businesses, Alibaba is divided into two online platforms like Taobao and 1688.com, these platforms operate C2C and B2B businesses respectively.
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Taobao according to Alizila has 755 million mobile monthly active users. When it comes to Taobao, it should be mentioned that this platform enables small businesses, customers, and entrepreneurs to operate their business in purchasing and selling goods in a very convenient way. Moreover, consumers on that online platform have the function to communicate with other customers and even receive messages from Taobao vendors in real-time. Sellers can sell their products at auctions or at a fixed price.
Taobao has long-term mutual and beneficial partnerships with 21 CN, MSN, and Sohu (搜狐). Taobao also created its promotions in recent years through commercial movies and famous TV programs.
Moreover, Taobao in order to boost sales throughout the year it creates various special promotions. For instance, November 11th is the biggest promotion day for Chinese marketplaces. Alibaba started these promotions in 2009 on Tmall online platform, at that time the total turnover from these promotions overwhelmed expectations.
Since that day, November 11th became the fixed date related to a great scale promotion activity on Tmall, later it got expanded to other online platforms such as Taobao, JD.COM, Yihaodian, and other e-commerce platforms. The total GMV of Alibaba in 2020 increased up to 372.3 billion RMB ($56.42 billion) due to promotion day on November 11th. Remarkably, this day is also celebrated as Global Online Shopping Festival or Chinese as Single’s Day.
Tmall has seen a huge growth in recent years even with the COVID-19 pandemic disturbing global markets. The Tmall Global platform is a major feature within Tmall that allows for global brands to open their own store within Tmall and sell directly to Chinese consumers. This is a huge step forward in cross-border e-commerce between the west and China making the process for global brands to penetrate the Chinese market easier than ever before.
2. JD: Innovative Chinese Online Marketplace
Jingdong (JD.com) is also known as formerly called 360buy. It was founded by Liu Qiandong in 1998. Jingdong is one of the largest e-commerce platforms by transaction volume and revenue in China, headquartered in Beijing. Jindong is also a member of the Fortune Global 500, additionally, this platform nowadays is a major competitor to Alibaba-run Tmall.
The platform has 441.6 million annual active users as of the last report in 2020. Moreover, JD.com is the leading company in the world in terms of high tech and AI delivery through drones, robots, and autonomous technologies.
JD is becoming known for more than just selling tech within the Chinese market. JD is innovating rapidly into other industries such as the grocery store market (similar to Amazon) which utilizes JD’s digital prowess to improve upon traditional grocery stores. The platform is also gaining traction in a few other key product categories such as vitamins and beauty products. This is helping the company diversify and become a powerful e-commerce tool for consumers.
A sub-platform of JD is JD Global. Similar to Tmall Global, JD Global is a platform that allows global brands to market to Chinese consumers. What differentiates JD Global from competitors is that they focus on mainly well-established and reputable brands to sell on their platform. This gives them a sense of reliability.
3. Suning: Offline to Online Chinese Marketplace
Suning Commerce Group is a non-government retailer in China, its headquarter is located in Nanjing, Jiangsu province. Suning operates 1600 stores in 700 cities in China (including Hong Kong S.A.R.) and Japan. Suning pledged 1 billion yuan worth of stock to Alibaba’s Taobao group in 2020 to secure financing and create a new partnership. This Chinese marketplace is among the top three Chinese B2C companies. Sunning provides different services, including physical merchandise such as home appliances, 3C products, books, general merchandise, household commodities, cosmetics, and baby care products, content products, and service merchandise with the total number of SKU exceeding 3 million.
In addition, Suning operates franchised retail shops of electronics appliances in China. Therefore, the company provides services to sell color televisions (TVs), audio and video (AV) players, disc players, refrigerators, washing machines, digital and information technology (IT) products, small household electronics, air conditioners, telecommunications products, and other products. In fact, the platform also provides services related to installation and repair services for electronic appliances. Suning is another digital Chinese marketplace that has ventured into brick-and-mortar industries – Suning acquired Carrefour China and has since then introduced appliances into those stores and other international products.
4. Gome: Electrical Appliances
Gome Electrical Appliances Holding Limited(国美电器) is the largest privately-owned electrical appliance retailers operated in Mainland China and Hong Kong. The biggest chain store of household electrical appliances platform was founded in Beijing in 1987 by Wong Kwong Yu (Huang Guangyu). However, the brand’s name “GOME” was adopted only in 1993.
The platform started business operating with a heavy focus on 3C products but has developed as a one-stop-shop retailer that even operates a groceries wing. The e-commerce platform operates an electronics retail chain in China, additionally, it provides services in its four major categories are maternal and baby supplies, health and medical products, home and textiles, and culture and art supplies. In terms of the Chinese B2C market, Gome controls 2 percent of it.
Gome operates its business in most of the cities such as Beijing, Shanghai, Tianjin, Qingdao, Xian, Shenzhen. In addition, this platform was listed by Ford in the list of the Top 50 Listed Enterprises of Asia. Today Gome is the main rival of Suning and 360buy since it principally offers retail shops selling electronics and electrical appliances. In 2020, Gome also partnered with another e-commerce platform, Pinduoduo. Pinduoduo has had enormous success as a social network-driven e-commerce business. The partnership is great for both companies but especially for Gome as they are able to move many of their products onto Pinduoduo’s comparatively more rapidly growing platform and user base.
Vipshop is a Chinese marketplace, which is specializing in online discount sales. The headquarters is located in Guangzhou, Guandong province. Vipshop as of 2020 had 43.4 million active users, this platform is one of the largest e-commerce platforms in China and it follows after Tmall and JD.com.
In addition, Vipshop provides the largest offers. When it comes to special offers, Vipshop is leading in this terms, since according to the Hangzhou-based supplier, this platform shares 90 percent of the market share in the category of special offers. Therefore, in comparison with Tmall, JD.com offers 5%, 10% respectively, in this sense, Vipshop offers a higher deduction point which fluctuates between 25% and 30 %. This platform also enables suppliers to take advantage of such services as photo shooting, storage, product delivery, and customer services.
Guangzhou-based e-commerce platform provides discounts for a limited period of time and is more focused on women’s purchases. 80 percent of consumers on this platform are females. Remarkably Vipshop in terms of the Chinese B2C market, controls approximately around 3 percent.
VIPshop is popular in smaller Chinese cities
Vip International is Vipshop’s competing solution to Tmall and JD’s global platforms which gives mainly large and established global businesses the opportunity to market to Chinese consumers. Furthermore, since Vipshop focuses on special offers and discounts, the Chinese marketplace is much more popular in lower-tier cities than Tmall which tends to focus on higher-tier cities and a more affluent consumer market.
Other Top Chinese Online Marketplace
Pinduoduo: Social Ecommerce King
Pinduoduo is an e-commerce platform allowing users to participate in group buying deals. This makes Pinduoduo unique among other Chinese marketplaces in the sense that it is both a social media experience and a consumer shopping experience. The direct translation of Pinduoduo is “together, more savings, more fun” which alludes well to the platform’s most unique strength: discounted prices from group shopping.
By offering discounts on group purchases, Pinduoduo incentivizes consumers to share deals and therefore market their service. This makes the service highly popular in lower-tier cities in China where they have gained great traction resulting in over 600 million monthly active users in 2020. Pinduoduo is an excellent cost-friendly alternative to Tmall and JD for global brands with a smaller budget but who are still looking to make an entry into the CBEC industry in China.
Kaola: Biggest cross-border eCommerce app in China?
Kaola, which was acquired by the Alibaba group in 2019 and has over 30 million active monthly users, is a major player in the cross-border e-commerce realm. The focus of this Chinese marketplace is to provide consumers with access to high-quality and high-end global goods. This gives the platform an incredibly good reputation as a reliable source for getting verified products from reputable brands. This is important as Chinese consumers are increasingly savvy and care increasingly more about getting authentic high-quality products.
Kaola’s unique distribution model sets it apart from other CBEC competitors in the Chinese market. The company has established incredibly strong relationships with global brands and therefore is able to purchase inventory directly from those brands. This allows them to bypass any intermediaries which therefore allows them to lower costs for their consumers.
Additionally, Kaola’s platform allows foreign manufacturers to enter China’s complex market. Kaola also handles third-party cross-border logistics along with other major pieces of the global supply chain that are needed when importing goods to China such as warehousing and after-sales services. This allows the global brands that use Kaola’s platform to more speedily and easily enter the market.