Sell on Tmall Global – How to Open a Tmall Store as a Foreign Brand?

Tmall Global is the cross-border e-commerce platform offered by Alibaba Group. It provides a pathway for overseas brands to sell products in China, and Chinese consumers with access to international brands and products.

In this guide, we will outline what Tmall Global is, who it is for, and how fashion brands can sell on the platform by opening a store on Tmall Global.

Cross-border E-commerce: A Guide on How To Sell on Tmall Global

The Chinese government has been continually trying to make the environment more suitable for cross-border e-commerce (CBEC) in the last few years to accelerate the expansion of the cross-border e-commerce industry and reduce traditional trade barriers and challenges. 

Another endeavor by the Chinese government to increase cross-border e-commerce business in China is to reduce regulation costs in:

  • Import taxes
  • Regulation Registration
  • Customs clearance
  • Storage

Additionally, the government is focusing on increasing the per-order purchase limit and total purchase limit per year of a consumer.

Tmall: The Leading E-commerce Platform in China

China’s e-commerce sector is not only vast but also diverse, with a wide range of brands to choose from. If you own or manage a brand that wants to grow and succeed in the Chinese market, you should know and understand all about Tmall, the world’s largest e-commerce marketplace. Tmall will be vital to your brand’s success in the Chinese market.

What Is

China’s largest business-to-consumer (B2C) e-commerce site is Tmall is a popular e-commerce marketplace for brand-conscious buyers looking for fashion and leisure items. is only limited to Chinese-registered firms, however, it also has an international version called “Tmall Global” that allows overseas merchants and international brands to sell directly to the Chinese market.

Tmall Global: Tmall’s Cross-Border Sub-Platform

Tmall Global is China’s largest cross-border e-commerce platform, delivering high-quality imported products from a variety of countries and regions throughout the world to Chinese consumers. Tmall Global has positioned itself as a high-end retailer in China, while also seeking international investment. 

china cross border ecommerce - tmall global is the largest cbec app in china

Tmall Global is similar to an online international apparel and fashion store that is renowned and focuses on apparel, beauty, fashion, and luxury items. For example, you can sell products on Tmall Global in the following categories:

  • Skincare
  • Cosmetics
  • Beauty equipment
  • Supplements
  • Toys
  • Apparel
  • Watches
  • Jewelry
  • Lingerie
  • Babycare
  • Home Appliances
  • Kitchen utensils

As a result, Tmall is a trusted platform for consumers to purchase products from both domestic and foreign brands.

How To Effectively Sell on Tmall Global

Tmall Global allows you to save time and money by not requiring you to have a physical presence in China, whereas requires you to have a legal presence in China, which costs time and money.

If you want to start selling in a Tmall store, you must first create an authentic Tmall Global account so that you get an authorized store and Chinese clients can trust you.

Setting up Tmall Global Store

  • Research your category: Understand who you’ll be competing with within the market and how you’ll stand out. Recognize their market reputation and how you may use it to your advantage.
  • Design your Tmall Global store: Select a template that best meets your needs, then customize it to reflect your company’s branding. Experiment with alternative page layouts and product listing types, change fonts and text sizes, and change your color palette.
  • Focus on Product descriptions: To drive a sale, a persuasive product description addresses the customer’s problem. List all the product’s qualities, and emphasizes the primary benefits. Explain who your product is for and highlight the most important product features (size, material, etc. ).
  • Good Product images: Invest in good photos for your products. If you can afford it, hire a professional photographer to take the photos.

You can open a merchant account for your brand directly through Tmall. Another approach is to work with a Tmall Partner. 

Working with Tmall Partners can help brands join the Chinese market quickly while also providing excellent customer support. Even if your company is just getting started, a Tmall partner can help you develop marketing tactics, grow your brand’s popularity, run your business, and sell your products.

We are a Tmall certified partner and we can help you select the type of store, link your bank account, provide all the documents that Tmall Global requires, and help you open the store to start selling directly to consumers in China.

Work With A Tmall Partner

A TP, or “Tmall Partner” is a specialized and certified e-commerce operator that provides businesses with a one-stop solution for managing their whole e-commerce operations and selling to Chinese consumers online. In summary, if you want to sell on Tmall Global in China market, it is also recommended to deal with a TP.

A TP can perform a variety of tasks that your brand could greatly benefit from. This includes:

  • Setting up, designing, and maintaining an online store
  • Pricing, promotion, and marketing planning are all aspects of merchandising.
  • Integration of the virtual store’s IT systems with the brand’s IT systems
  • Order handling, payments, and other aspects of the online store’s operation
  • Storage and fulfillment
  • Customer service is important (pre-sales & after-sales)
  • Within the marketplace, digital performance marketing
  • Management of live streaming and KOLs within the marketplace ecosystem
  • Handling of returns, cancellations, and complaints
  • Weekly, monthly, and quarterly reporting & planning

Considerations for Opening a Merchant Account on Tmall Global

Tmall Global’s brands are all based outside of mainland China and have international retail certifications. Tmall Global items are made and sold in other countries before being lawfully imported into China. 

To register a merchant account on Tmall Global, you must first determine whether your brand is compatible by completing these steps:

  • Examine the prerequisites
  • Determine the demands of third-party service providers (TPs)
  • Prepare a logistical plan
  • Prepare the required business documentation (by the brand owner)
  • Technical resources should be set aside
  • More API integration should be started
  • Complete agreements with TPs and signed contracts

Basic Business Requirements To Open a Tmall Global Store

Tmall Global sets a high standard, and the clearance procedure can take anywhere from 4 to 8 weeks. After you’ve confirmed that your brand is compatible with Tmall Global, you’ll need a retail or trading license in the country of origin, as well as ownership of the brand or authorization to distribute it on the online marketplace. It has to be:

  • A company with a registered office outside of mainland China
  • Have retail and trade qualifications from another country
  • Be the owner of the brand or an authorized agency, or have a purchase voucher
  • Have the necessary stock certificates on hand

Merchants must meet the following requirements to be authorized to sell in the Tmall flagship store:

  • Commodities: items that were made or sold outside of the United States must be genuine and come with a certificate of origin. As a result, products must pass through Chinese international customs as well as Tmall Global security.
  • Product descriptions and labeling: it must be presented in Chinese, and the international metric system must be used as the unit of measurement.
  • Chinese language customer service: It is required since your market is Chinese shoppers. 
  • Logistics: Products should be dispatched within 120 hours and delivered to customers within 14 days.
  • After-sales: If you sell commodities to mainland China, Hong Kong, or Taiwan, you must set up a place to handle returns.

How Much Does It Cost To Be On Tmall Global?

Tmall’s fees are determined by your business as well as several other factors. Launching a specialty store on Tmall can be expensive. As a result, you must conduct preliminary research to determine whether the ROI will cover all of your expenses and meet your objectives.

Depending on the store style, Tmall Global charges a deposit ranging from US$8,000 to US$25,000. The e-commerce site also charges an annual service fee, which can range from US$5,000 to US$10,000 depending on the product type.

It may appear to be costly, but given the size of the Chinese market and the credibility of Tmall Global, there is always a larger likelihood of a positive return on investment.

Cross-border e-commerce in China; Tmall

How to Open a Tmall Store: Tmall Business Models

To be successful in the Chinese market, you must first grasp your brand’s ideal business model and how it can benefit you before you start selling on Tmall. Tmall Global has multiple business models to select from when you register your brand with Tmall Global:

Tmall Global Flagship Store

Tmall Global Store is a self-managed online flagship store that will be used by brands to showcase and sell their products and generate traffic to existing top sellers. It has the broadest reach among Chinese customers, making it excellent for raising brand awareness.

It provides the most comprehensive set of capabilities for running a store, from consumer insight data to the use of sophisticated marketing and promotional tools.

This business model is also quite versatile, since it may be utilized with both bonded warehouse and direct shipping methods for online retail. Companies can administer the store themselves or hire a third-party agency to do so.

Tmall Overseas Fulfillment (TOF)

Tmall Overseas fulfillment is a low-cost option for firms looking to test the Chinese market with a small expenditure for companies to sell in China. It’s a new collaboration approach that aims to assist international brands in evaluating their market potential in China.

It employs Alibaba’s international warehouses for direct fulfillment to customers, giving providers inventory flexibility and lower logistic and storage expenses.

TOF uses a consignment model to improve selection and enable inventory exchange in the home nation and sells through the TOF store on Tmall using offshore warehouses.

Tmall Direct Import (TDI)

Tmall Global operates a store that is capable of importing products directly from brands/suppliers and selling them to consumers. This concept allows brands to create and operate outlets independently.

Shipping Products on Tmall Global

When it comes to selling products in China, one of the most critical factors to consider is shipping. Tmall Global provides two options for managing your product shipment.

  • Bonded warehouse: The bulk shipping of items to bonded warehouses in China is an option for bigger corporations. Customers will save time and money as a result of this reduction in shipping time and cost. 
  • Postal system: Brands who want to try using Tmall but don’t want to invest in the additional setup can ship directly from their location. Customers will also face higher freight costs and lengthier delivery times as a result of this. This strategy is recommended for brands that are testing the market.

Sell On One of the World’s Largest E-commerce Markets

China’s eCommerce market is one of the world’s largest. The birth of China’s e-commerce market marked the start of a new era in the country’s economic development. According to Statista, the digital economy’s added value accounted for more than 38% of the country’s Gross domestic product (GDP) in 2021.

Nearly a quarter of China’s physical goods retail sales were made online, greatly exceeding the global average of 18%. China accounted for more than half of all global eCommerce retail sales in 2021, exceeding the combined totals of Europe and the United States. 

What Makes China the Best Market for Online Product Sales?

China now has the world’s largest digital purchasing population, with more than 900 million people. The number of Chinese online buyers has risen rapidly from under 34 million in 2006 to over 900 million online buyers a decade later, enabling China’s e-commerce business to grow at such a rapid pace.

China’s digital buyer penetration rate was expected to reach around 57% by 2022. As brands scramble to capitalize on the opportunity this 2023, nearly 80% of the Chinese population is expected to shop online, spending an average of $984.91 per person per year, up from $899.06 today.

Why Does the Majority of the Chinese Market Prefer to Shop Online?

In China, online shopping is a way of life. China’s Internet retail market is not only the largest but also the most innovative in the world. People shop whenever they want, wherever they want, and have it delivered expressly for a low price in a matter of hours in major cities. 

In a busy country plagued by traffic jams, traditional shopping can be tiresome and time-consuming. With an increasing percentage of Chinese people having more income, more people are shopping online, which provides greater comfort and convenience, particularly for busy city dwellers. Geographical distance is also no longer an impediment.

Here are some of the key factors why Chinese people choose to shop online:

  • Increased convenience
  • More variety of products
  • More shopping controls
  • Send gifts more easily
  • Easy price comparisons
  • Many promotions and discounts
  • Fast & easy shopping

Given that Chinese consumers like to purchase online, selling your brands in the Chinese market via e-commerce can be extremely beneficial to your company.

Want to get started with Tmall Global?

contact GMA

GMA is a Tmall Partner agency. We can assist you not only in joining Tmall Global but also promote your brand to Chinese consumers!

We are a China-based digital agency with over 10 years of experience on Tmall. We know all the nuances of selling on and Tmall Global and we’ll be happy to introduce another great brand to those platforms.

Feel free to ask for a free consultation with one of our experts to learn more and see the best possibilities for marketing in China!

1 comment

  • Hi,
    I would like to know if you could sell second hand luxury items like bags, watches and jewelry on Tmall global.

    Best regards

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