Idle Fish: The Secondhand Luxury E-Commerce Platform by Alibaba

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In China, many families face the trouble of having a mountain of unused items at home including luxury items from clothes to watches. For several years, secondhand was not appealing to Chinese consumers making Chinese shoppers lose face. If you purchase a secondhand luxury item, it means you do not have the financial capabilities to purchase luxury. In 2022, the situation has changed and there is a great need for secondhand trading platforms, and Idle fish takes up its responsibility.

More information about the secondhand trend in our White book

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What is Idle Fish?

Idle fish is Alibaba’s idle trading platform App client (iOS and Android version). Founded in 2014, this is Alibaba‘s third billion-dollar platform after Taobao and Tmall. Members can simply log in with their Taobao or Alipay accounts, and without going through the complicated process of opening a store, they can resell their “bought items” in their personal Taobao accounts with one click or take photos and upload secondhand unused items from their homes on their own phones, and trade them online.

  • Origin: Idle fish, the Chinese name “闲鱼”, comes from the Chinese character “闲余”. “Idle” (闲) refers to idle time, while “Yu” (余) refers to idle items and space. Idle fish is not only an idle trading platform but also a community based on a new lifestyle. In this community, people can share items, their private time and skills, hobbies, and experiences, and even space. Idle fish is dedicated to making “idle” become “idle fish” and making waste become consumption.
  • User Volume: After nearly 6 years of development, Idle fish has reached 300 million users, equivalent to 1 out of every 4 Chinese households using Idle fish, with a GMV of over 100 billion RMB. According to Idle fish’s data, the proportion of post-95s among users who buy and sell things on the platform is 35%.
  • Performance: Ali’s 2020 financial results show that Idle fish, the largest C2C community/trading marketplace for long-tail goods in China, has a GMV of over 200 billion RMB in FY2020, with a year-over-year growth rate of over 100%. The number of Idle fish online sellers has also exceeded 30 million.
  • Development history: On May 18, 2016, Alibaba Group announced that its “Idle fish” and “Auction” businesses will merge. The two jointly explore various sharing economy business forms, including Idle fish auctions, Idle fish second-hand transactions, and Idle fish used cars. In April 2021, Idle fish applied to WeChat for a small program. Once approved, the platform will support users to purchase idle items within the app, share links among users, and enhance the shopping sharing experience.

What is the Real Advantage of Idle Fish?

Idle Fish has a Strong Background and High Traffic Volume

Long-term stability, backed by Alibaba, a platform product that Taobao specifically spun off from its secondhand trading business to operate independently. Idle fish has been online for 7 years, with over 300 million users, and many buyers have been opening stores for 5 to 6 years, so it can be said to be quite stable.

Currently, the e-commerce platform is the largest secondhand trading platform in the network traffic, according to the official data of Idle Fish. Every day, there are more than 250K idle items traded, as early as 18 years when the amount of idle fish turnover has exceeded 100 billion RMB.

Important Platform for the Development of Secondhand Luxury Goods

Although luxury goods account for a relatively small portion of Idle fish’s trading categories, they have also become an important component of the ecology. Data shows that Idle fish currently sells 10.25 million luxury items with a total value of 4.46 billion yuan. As the world’s luxury brands speed up the pace of layout in China, including Cartier, Prada, Kenzo, Armani, etc. pile up in T-mall, China will also gradually usher in the real peak of second-hand transactions.

For luxury goods, people are most afraid of encountering fakes, but Idle Fish launched the “worry-free purchase” service so that customers can buy luxury goods on the platform with confidence and be prepared to inspect goods in advance to ensure the authenticity, truly creating a second-hand trading platform full of trust.

Gathering Place for Cool Young People and Chinese Gen Z

The secondhand platform market gradually emerged from the Z era of young people. Among the 14 million secondary yuan users, about 7,500 cover the wa circle, mold play, Lolita, cosplay, national wind, and other segments of the secondary yuan certified players. Idle Fish has gradually broken the circle from niche culture.

In May 2020, Idle Fish linkage Jaimu APP, launched the first JY “cloud comic show”, attracting many young users. The trendy display, the sale of handicrafts, the gods live, the user can watch the exhibition online without leaving home, or trade. In addition, the platform also provides the purchase of the original limited edition, isochronous girl fashion store, activities also include clothing props rental, the same city equipment sale, and exchange. Idle fish also launched a plan to recruit secondary yuan special occupation.

Chinese Celebrities Pile Who Sell Luxury

The combination of Chinese celebrities and Idle Fish has received a lot of attention from netizens on social media. Celebrities are becoming an active part of the Idle fish community, and the celebrity effect is leading to a revolution in consumerism and a reduction in “secondhand prejudice”.

Some netizens have left comments saying that through Idle Fish, the distance between the celebrities and the stars is not so far away. For example, Chen Qiaoen’s Idle Fish account is called “Chen Qiaoen’s nest”, with 708K fans, and has sold 83 items so far, most of which are her unused clothes, and the proceeds from the sale of the goods are donated to the China Foundation for Poverty Alleviation’s Love Parcel Project.

Today, Idle fish is not only a community for people to sell and buy idle items, but it also seems to be becoming a new venue for celebrities to show their personalities and build IP. When celebrities appear as Idle fish users, they can let their fans know about their other, more lifelike side and communicate with them more closely.

The Future of Idle fish:

So far, more than 1 million people post more than 2 million personal unused items on Idle fish every day, and nearly 70 million people post nearly 700 million items every year, accumulating to more than 1.4 billion items. The development of Idle Fish is bound to bring about the development of the “circular economy”, and there is still a lot of room for the development of China’s second-hand e-commerce. Idle Fish is bound to have a lot of competitors: in addition to the old players such as transfer, love recycling, redbrin. Jingdong launched its second-hand e-commerce platform “whale purchase” last year. “. The multi-pronged attack has brought unprecedented pressure on Idle fish, an old player. As you can imagine, Idle fish’s second-hand platform business has a long way to go.

Build your Luxury Brand Awareness

Before starting on e-commerce platforms, the key is to build the brand image in China. Especially for secondhand, Chinese netizens will favor luxury brands they consider as a good investment. Today, luxury brands like Hermes, Longines, and Rolex are considered to be good investments. You will need to market your brand on cdifferent social media such as Weibo and Little Red Book to generate brand exposure and work on your e-reputation through Baidu, Zhihu, and Sohu to improve trust.

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You can implement a PR campaign with luxury magazines such Vogue China or ELLE China. This is a campaign we implemented for one of our clients with released press releases on Vogue China, ELLE China, and Marie Claire China to drive the notoriety and credibility of the brand in China.

Find the Right Partner to Enter E-Commerce Platforms

If you want to enter the e-commerce platforms in China, you need to work with a local partner. Before entering these platforms, the first step is to audit your brand. If you need to access e-commerce platforms such as Idle Fish, Tmall, or Taobao, you can work with a TP (Tmall Partner). We are GMA, a full-service agency and TP based in Shanghai, China. We work with luxury and fashion brands on the design, copywriting, registration, and management of their e-commerce store in China. Ask to have a look at our case studies!

Contact us at any time.


  • Vladimir

    hello. my account requires identification. I have a foreigner’s passport and the system does not accept his number. what should I do in this situation?
    ID: xy945776469457
    Thank you

    • A

      As foreigner, I dont think you can have access to that.
      Maybe using Alipay or weChat ID

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