Whilst some luxury brands such as Burberry were initially reticent about using shopping sites such as TMall because of trepidation over the ‘grey’ market, the ecommerce site could well be one of the most beneficial platforms for smaller, lesser known Western brands to set up if they want to reach the breadth of Chinese citizens.
TMall is the retail site for Alibaba, the biggest player in the Chinese ecommerce market. It pulls in around $300 billion of the B2C cake in China and it’s a rapidly increasing arena despite the recent slowdown in the country’s economy. According to digital agency Venture Beat:
“In the past, there hasn’t been one easy answer for every company, but recently, that’s changed, with Chinese ecommerce platforms solving many key challenges, and Alibaba’s Tmall presenting by far the wisest choice of these platforms.”
Many of the less famous brands hoping to make it big in China have had little fear over the grey or counterfeit market and, with much smaller budgets for marketing, they see it as a viable and lucrative platform for doing business.
- It provides fast and competent hosting for Western businesses but, beware, you have to operate it from inside China if you want any chance of succeeding.
- The platform works and looks good across a wide range of devices including mobile phones, which, for many netizens, is now the shopping tool of choice.
- TMall links to a number of apps; more importantly it connects through social platforms such as Weitao that allows netizens and companies to engage in shameless brand messaging.
- It also integrates with other major social media apps such as WeChat and Weibo.
- Grey market worries have largely been tempered by the inclusion of a plethora of useful tools within the TMall platform that makes it safer for Western brands to operate.
To succeed on TMall you will need to have a competent and readily available customer services team that can operate on the system and keep potential customers informed and answer their concerns. Most Chinese netizens expect this as a matter of course now and any Western brand that fails to provide it may well find themselves sinking out of sight quite rapidly.
The great thing about TMall is that it is constantly looking to evolve and this can provide valuable new developments for any Western brand trying to operate in this sometimes difficult country. That includes the addition of video tools and other multimedia content that give online shoppers a rewarding value added extra experience across the entire spectrum of online shopping.
TMall also seems to be the shopping channel of choice for many netizens mainly because they trust it to deliver. That means many Western brands are moving there because of the guaranteed traffic – riding on the back of the platform’s existing popularity to give themselves a head start.
According to Forbes, TMall has a reputation to protect if it is to attract the world’s biggest and best brands:
“If Taobao is the largest garage sale in the world, Tmall is the largest mall. Companies from luxury brands like Hugo Boss to consumer goods such as Costco have set up stores on the platform. While accidentally buying counterfeit goods might be an issue on Taobao, Tmall.com’s rigorous vetting system for brands ensures product authenticity.”