Tmall Global, China’s largest B2C cross-border online marketplace, has launched an English-language website to streamline the onboarding process for international brands that want to sell on the platform.
The easy-to-use portal will educate brands about Tmall Global and selling into the world’s second-largest economy, as well as allow them to apply to open a flagship store on the site, said Yi Qian, deputy general manager of Tmall Global.
“Tmall Global’s mission is to connect high-quality international brands across the globe with Chinese consumers,” he said. “We believe the launch of this English-language website will expedite the process for brands and merchants to introduce their products to Chinese consumers.”
Tmall Global’s business-development teams typically identify brands that they think will be successful on the platform and work to launch their flagship stores. With the new site, merchants will be able to make their pitch directly to Tmall Global.
They simply fill out a questionnaire and describe their business, and Tmall Global will contact successful applicants within 72 hours to discuss the onboarding process. Previously, the process took many months.
“In the past, our business-development team often had to meet potential merchants at trade shows or through personal introductions,” Yi said. “With the website, merchants can contact us directly and the request will go to one of our team members, who are standing by to answer their questions.”
Tmall Global says it plans to launch other versions in addition to English, such as Spanish, Japanese and Korean, in the future.
Between an expanding middle class and an increase in discretionary income across multiple consumer demographics, the growth of consumption in China has been trending steadily upward in recent years. According to China’s Ministry of Commerce, consumption is the biggest driver of the country’s economic development, accounting for more than 65% of gross domestic product growth in the first quarter of this year.
Moreover, data also shows that online consumption continues to thrive as more Chinese consumers turn to their mobile phones to shop. In May, China’s online retail sales in May registered growth of 17.8% year-on-year, outpacing that of department stores, supermarkets and shopping centers, the ministry said. In the January-to-May period, China’s online retail sales grew 21.7% year-over-year.
The upward momentum has encouraged many international brands of all sizes, such as U.S.-based Evereden, Australian retailer Chemist Warehouse, Japanese cosmetics maker Kanebo and even Rwanda coffee vendors to expand their operations to China to capture the country’s bourgeoning demand for imported goods. In 2018, the number of new flagship stores on Tmall Global doubled from the previous year, and that growth is expected to accelerate further this year.
Tmall Global attributes its leading position in China, which it has held for nearly five years, to sourcing the latest and most popular overseas products from brands such as these. The platform currently hosts more than 20,000 brands in over 4,000 categories from 77 countries and regions. To keep up with the rising demand from Chinese consumers, Tmall Global said it plans to double the number of brands in three years.
The arrival of increasing numbers of foreign goods coincides with the Chinese government’s pledge to bolster imports. In November, at China’s International Import Expo, President Xi Jinping forecasted that the import of goods and services into China would surpass $30 trillion and $10 trillion, respectively, over the next 15 years. In response, Alibaba used the event to publicly pledge to bring $200 billion worth of imported products and services into China over the next five years.
Apart from offering merchants assistance during the onboarding process, Tmall Global will advise merchants on optimizing their operations after they establish a presence on the platform, such as providing analytics to help merchants fine-tune their product assortment that best capture the taste of Chinese consumers.
Last year, Tmall Global also unveiled a new initiative called Tmall Overseas Fulfillment, which allows brands to place their products at a TOF warehouse for sale on the platform. This gives the brands a low-cost, low-risk way to assess the market before making a full-fledged entry into China.
As part of the TOF solution, the Tmall Global team provides brands with marketing advice and tools to help boost brand awareness. Analytics generated from platform, such as sales performance and consumer preferences, can help brands make more-informed decisions about their China strategy. Currently, TOF is available in the U.S., Japan, South Korea and Europe.