How To Sell on Tmall: Top Guide for Fashion Brand

sell on tmall banner by gma

If you’re a fashion brand looking to sell on Tmall, you’re in luck! Tmall is the largest B2B e-commerce platform in China, and it’s the perfect place to reach Chinese consumers. In this guide, we’ll show you how to set up your Tmall store and start selling your products. As Tmall Partner, We’ll also share some tips for marketing your brand on the commerce platform. So let’s get started!

Tmall is one of China’s Biggest E-Commerce Platform

Let’s talk about China’s e-commerce market. The country has naturally grown exponentially as its purchasing power increases and its society embraces several innovations to benefit both consumers and merchants. Through the development of cutting-edge technologies, Chinese companies have made a real push to become the most desirable e-commerce platform in China. Due to the competitive nature of the market as well as the high expectations of consumers, this innovative culture can be partially explained.

Under the Alibaba group (founded by Jack Ma), Tmall China was established in 2008 as a subsidiary of Taobao china’s largest C2C platform, an online shopping platform with almost 300 million users. The company’s target market is predominantly B2C (Business-to-Consumer). As of 2021, Alibaba’s Tmall and JD are yet to be challenged with +60% of market shares.

In addition to mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan, Tmall’s concept is ambitious and wise as it allows both Chinese companies and international companies to sell their products there. Because of its strict standards for quality and reputation, Tmall stands out from its competitors.

Brand-conscious shoppers typically shop on the platform for fashion and lifestyle products. Initially, Tmall was only available to Chinese-registered brands but has since launched a global version called “Tmall Global” which lets foreign merchants and international brands sell directly to consumers in China.

Tmall vs Tmall Global / Local eCommerce Vs Cross Border eCommerce

Companies that have already established a local entity in China, for example, can open their store on Tmall.com, while international companies that don’t have a presence in mainland China yet can do so via Tmall Global. The Tmall.com and Tmall Global options might be more appropriate for you depending on your situation. Additionally, the biggest brands can also launch their online stores on Tmall.com and Tmall Global. If you do not provide the right information, Tmall will check all your documents to make sure they are correct.

PartTmall GlobalTmall
Merchants BranchOutside Mainland ChinaMainland China
Bank AccountHome countryChinese Bank Account
TrademarkRegistered in any countryRegistered in China
ShipmentFrom overseas to Chinese consumerFrom Chinese companies to Chinese consumer
FeeAnnual Fee: 5K or 10K USD; Initial Deposit: 25K USD; Commission for each product sold: 3% – 6%Annual Fee: 4K or 9K USD; Initial Deposit: 7K USD – 21K USD; Commission for each product sold: 2% – 5%

The Requirements For Selling on Tmall

To begin with, you should know that in China, your ability to sell on Tmall is not solely affected by the motivation you have, but also by how you present your brand and its potential on the platform. It is important to demonstrate what you have to offer and convince Tmall that you have the potential to attract and retain Chinese consumers’ interest if you are seeking to sell your products on one of the most consulted e-commerce websites in the world.

To open a Tmall store, merchants must have Chinese documents and register their products with the local authorities, in addition to having official Chinese documents. This explains why you’ll most likely find foreign brands on the Tmall store that are international and F500 brands that already have a presence in China.

  • Stores on Tmall.com can only be opened by companies with a Chinese retail business license located in Mainland China
  • In addition to the necessary information, marketers need to submit documents that verify the credibility, authenticity, and reality of the business and its products.
  • If you want to send your order quickly to your consumer, the products must be located in China.
  • According to Alibaba’s policies, orders must be shipped within 72 hours of purchase.
  • Within seven days of receiving the item, consumers are allowed to return it for a refund.

Process & Fees to Open a Store on Tmall

processus to open a tmall store

1. Meet the requirements:

  • You need a physical store to sell on Tmall, where buyers can pick up their items or display your goods, or you need a warehouse to store your goods.
  • If you wish to sell products on Tmall Global, you need to be a registered business outside of mainland China, prove that you own the brand or you are authorized to represent it, and have been a business owner for more than two years.

2. Apply to Open your Flagship Store:

  • Upon submitting your product information, you will need to wait for Tmall to verify it. This usually takes up to 10 working days.
  • Tmall Global requires an international Alipay account (your funds are transferred into your Alipay account) rather than a Chinese bank account (you’ll need a Chinese bank account for regular Tmall).

3. Pay the Annual Service and Deposit Fee

To qualify for Tmall Global, you’ll need to cover a deposit fee (7K USD to 21K USD on Tmall and 5K USD to 10K USD on Tmall depending on your product category) and an annual service fee (between 4K USD to 9K USD on Tmall and 5K USD to 10K USD on Tmall, always based on your product category).

4. Choose the Store

Tmall (domestic) has 4 types of stores. They are as follows:

  • Flagship stores (Brand owners): As a brand owner you need to provide your trademark registration certificate to open this store on the Tmall Global platform. That way we can make sure we are dealing with the right people.
  • Flagship stores (Merchants): To open a store on the Tmall Global website, the brand owners must give their permission to be a Tmall merchant.
  • Specialty stores: This type of store can only be opened on Tmall Global by merchants with documentation of brand authorizations giving them distribution rights to sell their products throughout China.
  • Authorized stores: This store can only be opened on regular Tmall by merchants who have the license to sell brand goods. A franchise store that is authorized to sell certain brands on their premises can sell a variety of products, but they must be authorized to do so by the brand they are selling.

Tmall Global allows you to set up three kinds of stores:

  • Flagship Store: A flagship store can only be established by brands with a trademark such as ® or TM. Owners of the store, or representatives of the brand, will be required to represent the brand. An owner of a store must have all authorization documents from the brand before the store can be opened on Tmall.
  • Speciality Store: The stores can only be opened by merchants who hold a brand’s distribution rights in China and can sell at any time and anywhere without geographical restrictions. Moreover, specialty stores may sell products from more than one category.
  • Monopolized Store: On Tmall, monopolized stores are allowed to be opened by merchants who own brand licensing. Retailers can sell products in more than one category on the site.

5. Sign an Agreement With Tmall & Your TP

Signing the agreement with both Tmall and your Tmall Partner is an important step. To accomplish this, you should sign up on Tmall Global or Tmall regular platform, add your products, then launch your store. Once your store has launched, you can start selling your products.

The Benefits of Opening a Tmall Account for Fashion Brands

With its 7-day return policy, Tmall provides more protection to its consumers than other Chinese e-commerce platforms. Additionally, Chinese consumers feel reassured that merchants who are approved before setting up shops on Tmall are more credible and trustworthy. Tmall Global’s gross merchandise volume increased by 25 percent in Q4 thanks to the fact that over 780 million consumers in China have purchased through the platform at least once. Hence, a burgeoning number of international brands have joined Tmall Global, contributing to the company’s growth.

It is estimated that Tmall’s gross merchandise volume will increase from 847 billion yuan in 2012 to 3,202 billion yuan in 2020 (more than three times as much)! You have probably already heard about Tmall during big sales events in the last few years, even if you are not very familiar with it. Chinese e-commerce giant Tmall is very well known for its multiple sales records, such as 11.11, which generated 74.10 billion dollars in 24 hours!

“Single’s Day”, or 11.11, is one of the biggest retail and online shopping events in the world and is celebrated for 24 hours straight. Several e-commerce platforms are participating in this event, including Tmall, JD.com, and Taobao. For this reason, if you want to do business in China using Tmall, you should pay particular attention to this big day in terms of marketing and communications, as well as advertising.

Additionally, Tmall integrates Alipay as its online payment system, which is one of the most popular in China and is also one of the most trusted tools for Chinese consumers. Tmall also offers analytical tools such as the “Daily Update” which provides daily sales reports. Vendors need to have these tools so that they can make strategic decisions based on their sales.

Pros and Cons of Selling on Tmall & Tmall Global

There are a few reasons why having a Tmall flagship store is important for fashion brands looking to succeed in China. 

The Pros

  • As the largest online shopping platform in China, Tmall gives brands huge exposure to potential customers. Having a presence on Tmall allows brands to tap into this vast market and reach more consumers than they would be able to without an e-commerce platform.
  • Access to Alibaba-Tmall varied shopping festivals and on-site marketing tools (such as paid advertising/ discount tools and so on).
  • The apps offer various business models and types of stores. Distributors can for instance negotiate a deal with Tmall Supermarket or Chinese businesses that already have a flagship store and will act as resellers for your products on the Chinese market.
  • Tmall Global offers international businesses a viable option to enter China cross border eCommerce market. It is the most efficient entry door to the Chinese market for overseas companies. An international brand can open its own Tmall Global Flagship or join the cross-border version of Tmall Supermarket.
  • Tmall offers valuable data insights that can help fashion brands better understand their Chinese customers and what they’re looking for. This data can be used to inform product development, marketing, and other strategies designed to boost sales.
  • Tmall is highly trusted by Chinese consumers. Enjoy this trust by association to build your own brand legitimacy in the mainland and increase your conversion rate.

The Con’s

  • China’s largest e-commerce group also comes with some of the most strict regulations and entry requirements for its eCommerce platforms, especially Tmall. It has a reputation to maintain.
  • For instance, a company opening a flagship store on Tmall Local has to prove they can respect short delivery times and offer a top experience for consumers with a Chinese language customer support
  • China’s e-commerce market is an expensive market, and so is entering Tmall (as shown on the tab a bit earlier in this post): initial deposit, security deposit, Tmall Commission Fee = a lot of money!
  • To sell on the domestic platform you will need a Chinese business license, product certification, fill out the product category form and of course, follow Chinese product regulations. This applies to any eCommerce platform in China.
  • The competition is high. Both local and International brands want their share of the cake on the popular platform. Therefore to reach out to Chinese customers, foreign brands will also have to invest heavily in marketing.

Digital Marketing to Improve your Conversion Rate on Tmall:

To go further on my latest point: Digital Marketing is key to success not only in Tmall but also in China. It will allow you to build a strong reputation and look legit with Chinese consumers but also increase your awareness and set you apart from the competition.

  • Baidu SEO & SEM: Baidu is the most popular search engine in China, so using its platform to reach potential customers is a smart move. SEO is a great way to get organic traffic to your store. Online presence through organic results shows that you are a real brand. SEM can be an effective way to target specific demographics and interests based on what people are searching for on Baidu.
  • Chinese Social media: There are a number of great reasons to use Chinese social media to increase brand awareness in China. For starters, Chinese social media platforms boast some of the largest user bases in the world – making them ideal for reaching a large number of potential customers. Additionally, many Chinese social media platforms offer highly sophisticated targeting options that allow businesses to narrow their focus and ensure that their message is being seen by those who are most likely to be interested in it. WeChat, Weibo, Xiaohongshu, Douyin, and so on. You have a lot of choices to fit your goals and your budget.
  • Kols Marketing: Key Opinion leader benefits from the trust of Chinese consumers and naturally, brands have been working with them to reach out to new target audiences, improve their reputation, and so on. Chinese consumers have been turning more and more to KOL and KOC (Key Opinion Consumers) to help them finalize purchases.
  • Live streaming eCommerce: Goes hands in hands with Kols marketing. The practice has become incredibly popular with China’s young active population and this can be illustrated by the adoption of live-streaming by all relevant eCommerce platforms and social media in China.

Invest in as many Chinese online platforms as you can to increase your online presence and therefore your brand awareness. Once your presence is established, use these platforms to control your reputation through ORM.

Start selling on China’s leading e-commerce platform

How do we help you:

  • Business license registration/ company certificate
  • Flagship Store opening
  • customer profile study/ market plan
  • SHOP MANAGEMENT & CUSTOMER
  • Want a physical presence on the Chinese market? We help you with that too

Contact us to schedule a meeting and discuss your needs in the Chinese market

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