E-Commerce Sales Channel Expansion

Tmall and JD are the biggest domestic e-commerce platforms in China covering almost 75% total China e-commerce market share. Pin duo duo becomes the 3rd biggest which followed by Suning, VIP and Gome.

Top 10 China E-Commerce Platforms

Top 10 China e-commerce channels

Major China Cross Border E-Commerce Platforms

As of cross border e-commerce channels, Tmall Global and Kaola (acquired by Alibaba Group in 2019) are the leading channels, followed by JD Worldwide, VIP International, Little Red Book, Suning International.
You will find a more detailed explanation about Cross Border E-Commerce here:

Cross border ecommerce channel

Business Models of China E-Commerce

Different e-commerce channels offer different cooperation models, such as brand flagship store and supplier wholesale model. Many large platforms offer several different cooperation models at the same time. This can be challenging for those brands and retailer who are not familiar with the Chinese markets and how the different platforms and their cooperation models work. The final decision depends on a strategic analysis of each model, and a breakdown of main advantages and disadvantages. Basically, there are four major business models which might be interesting for international brands and retailers:

1. Web Shop

A standalone web shop might be appealing for many international businesses at first glance, since it appears to be the most convenient and cost-effective way. However, these web shops often have low traffic and can not reach high awareness and popularity without enormous marketing investment.

2. Brand Flagship Store on E-Commerce Marketplaces

China e-commerce marketplaces act as a centralized platform for different stores. One of the most common store types is Brand Flagship Store. Within e-commerce marketplaces, consumers can access all kinds of stores, which allows them to shop around. A brand flagship store is an official destination of a brand which represents the brand authenticity, provides a large variety of products and communicates comprehensive brand messages directly to the consumers. It is similar to a brand web shop but integrated in the e-commerce marketplace.

3. Supplier Wholesale Model via E-Commerce Marketplaces

Many platforms offer supplier wholesale model to work with international brands and retailers. In this case, the e-commerce platforms are similar as distributors with their own distribution and sales channels. This is often very appealing to international businesses, mainly due to its easy execution, direct access to large user base and extra more traffic pushed by the platforms. However, there are certain watch outs companies need to pay attention to: e.g. often only the best sellers are interesting for this cooperation model and new products are difficult to get priority, brands have less control over the branding and price, high requirement of supply chain flexibility as well as stricter terms and conditions.

4. Sell to China through WeChat

WeChat, originally a messaging app similar to WhatsApp, has been developed way beyond chatting and becomes a super app, with most of the amazing features of different western apps (Facebook, WhatsApp, Uber, Tinder…) combined. In recent years, WeChat has grown from a social media app into a real e-commerce channel too. 800 billion RMB transactions happened via WeChat Mini programs in 2019 with a 160% YoY growth.
Once a company has a verified account, it can open a WeChat store through which it can sell directly to Chinese consumers. Since Chinese consumers are keen on social media recommendations, the WeChat store can be a powerful sales channel for certain categories.
In order to open an official WeChat account, companies are required to provide a local business license and an ICP license. Foreign firms can get around this requirement by engaging a third-party agent like eTOC. 

Major Platforms and Cooperation Models inside Alibaba Ecosystem

Alibaba Group offers the most comprehensive platforms and cooperation models. Some brief words from eTOC help you quickly differentiate the major platforms or cooperation models inside Alibaba ecosystem:
Taobao is the largest C2C platform in China.
Tmall is the largest B2C platform in China with over 60% market share.
Tmall Global is the largest Cross Border E-Commerce B2C platform in China with almost 30% market share among Cross Border E-Commerce business. Tmall Global transactions can be roughly divided into 80% marketplace and 20% TDI (Tmall Direct Import).
TDI is a supplier wholesale model offered by Tmall in order to push popular top sellers for sales maximization.
CIP (Centralized Import Procurement) is a function inside Alibaba ecosystem aiming at empowering global SMEs for efficient distributions. Products are sourced directly from overseas brand owners and pushed to both online and offline channels by leveraging omni channel touch points within Alibaba ecosystem to speed up brand penetration and business growth.

Alibaba ecommerce channels
The above mentioned platforms and cooperation models can be used for different business targets. Most brands pursue several cooperation models and platforms to maximize the sales potential.
eTOC is famous for its strong Alibaba background and holds profound knowledge and experience and an extensive network within Alibaba ecosystem.

eTOC Helps You with China E-Commerce Sales Channel Expansion

Based on brand´s China market awareness, assortment market fit, available investment budget and business targets, eTOC can support you design your e-commerce sales channel roadmap and facilitate your cooperation with the suitable sales channels.

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