For those of you new to Tmall, Alibaba's B2C marketplace, I thought I'd write a brief introduction.

I've included detail of market share, sales, delivery, payment, brands and more.

And for more on this topic, download our China Digital Report, Q1 2016.


Tmall, owned by Alibaba, is China's largest online marketplace.

In 2008, Taobao, Alibaba's C2C marketplace, spun off Tmall as a platform for official brand stores.

In 2013 Tmall Global was introduced, designed for international brands selling imported goods.

Tmall takes less revenue than Taobao - at the end of June 2015, the gross merchandise volume (GMV) ratio was 37% Tmall to 63% Tabao.

Customer experience is not dissimilar to other international online marketplaces.

Tmall offers an overview here; I have included an image of a product page below.


Market share

Tmall's share of B2C ecommerce is somewhere between 50% and 60% in China, depending on which source one consults.

Its nearest competitor is at around 18% of total market share.

China's ecommerce market is the biggest in the world.

china market


The Alibaba group as a whole has 407m annual active buyers across its two retail platforms at the end of 2015.

Tmall's figure is close to this number at around 375m.

Sales figures

GMV: $123bn products sold in 2015

The chart below shows GMV up to end of June 2015, with Taobao and Tmall separated out.

Looking at figures up to March 2016, the full financial year of 2015 saw Tmall generate GMV of ¥1,141bn.

This equates to US$123bn in products sold.

gmv tmall

Revenue: up 32% YoY at end of 2015

Growth in Tmall revenue in Q4 2015 was 32% year-on-year (YoY).

The overall annual revenue of Taobao and Tmall combined is shown below at ¥76.2bn for 2015, up from ¥52.5bn in 2014.

revenue growth


Tmall now has over 70,000 brands in 50,000 online stores.

The overall top 20 Tmall stores by total transaction values on Singles Day 2015 are shown below.

(via China Internet Watch

  1. Huawei
  3. Xiaomi
  4. Meizu
  5. Sitrust
  6. Suning
  7. Jzez
  8. NIKE
  9. Haier
  10. JackJones
  11. New Balance
  12. Letv
  13. Linshimuye
  14. Gap
  15. Peacebird
  16. GXG
  17. Senmir
  18. Handu
  19. La Chapelle
  20. Balabala 


Alipay, Alibaba's own payment platform, is the preferred payment method on Tmall (over credit and debit cards). There is a 1% charge for merchants.

Much like PayPal, Alipay offers a perceived level of trust beyond credit cards.

Third-party payment systems are increasing in popularity in China, with Alipay and WeChat's WePay seeing huge adoption.


Tmall standard delivery is around one to two days, with Tmall Global taking anything up to two weeks.

In 2015, Tmall introduced a pre-pay option for duty free customers, beginning in Thailand and South Korea.

Tmall's Janet Wang spoke to AdAge about offering this service:

This is a new model we are exploring as the Chinese middle class travels overseas more... We want to offer them a comprehensive experience.

Instead of waiting to check out in shops and waiting to be served, you can place orders online in advance and collect them when you travel to that country to avoid inconvenient experiences.

It goes back to our philosophy. We're not only offering general commodities as a lot of other online retailers do. We're thinking of consumers and merchants and how we can bring them together in the most convenient way. 

Tmall also has a supermarket, chaoshi, shown below, which offers same-day delivery to those that order before 11am.


Tmall Global

Tmall Global is a growth area for Alibaba, capitalising on demand for imported goods and foreign brands. Waitrose was the latest British brand to join.

The platform operates on an invitation-only policy, with many merchants going through a certified third-party.

A handful of British brands sell through the Royal Mail's store front, which partners with Avenue51 (Tmall implementers).

Commission on sales can be anywhere betwee 0.5% to 5%. Retailers can sell via bonded warehouses in Chinese free trade zones, which shortens delivery time.

Clothing, household items, and accessories are the most popular products. Merchants must use Chinese labelling and provide Chinese-language customer support.

The benefits of using Tmall Global range from greater brand awareness to improved infrastructure and logistics - something ASOS learnt the hard way with its .cn site.

Notable successes 

Ben Davis

Published 22 April, 2016 by Ben Davis @ Econsultancy

Ben Davis is Editor at Econsultancy. He lives in Manchester, England. You can contact him at, follow at @herrhuld or connect via LinkedIn.

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Comments (3)

Arron Zhang

Arron Zhang, Business Consultant at Advangent

Well written indeed. The biggest benefit of Tmall Global is for Western companies to sell directly to China through cross-border e-commerce without setting a Chinese entity ( does require a Chinese presence). However it's invitation-only so it's necessary to work with a TP (Taobao partner) to apply for and manage a store.

I agree it's suitable for certain types of products but may not be suitable for fast fashion. ASOS has some difficulty in finding the right position in China, it's a niche brand in China and there are just too many local alternatives.

about 2 years ago

George Godula

George Godula, CEO at Web2Asia - China E-Commerce Tmall Agency

Thank your for this comprehensive overview. Some additions: You mention that Tmall Global is an invitation-only platform. It is however important to note that Tmall domestic is also invitation only. Oftentimes smaller brands or merchants are surprised that they cannot setup a shop after several months of preparations. Specifically the requirements are: 1. Brand has to be on the Tmall invitation list 2. Company that registers for the shop ownership has to have been in operation min. 2 years prior to the application 3. Company has to have all legal requirements in place to sell to Chinese consumers (general tax payer authorization, business purpose of retail, etc.). I wrote a Quora post with more details on this here:

over 1 year ago

Ben Davis

Ben Davis, Editor at EconsultancyStaff

@George Thanks very much, a useful link

over 1 year ago

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