Alibaba's Tmall launches English-language site
Written by Peter Walker
Tmall Global has launched an English-language website to streamline the onboarding process for international brands that want to sell on the platform.
The new portal will educate brands about selling into the world’s second-largest economy and allow them to apply to open a flagship store on the site.
Business-development teams typically identify brands that they think will be successful on the platform and work to launch their flagship stores, but with the new site, merchants will be able to make their pitch directly to Tmall Global.
Retailers fill out a questionnaire and describe their business, with Tmall Global contacting successful applicants within 72 hours to discuss the onboarding process. Previously, the process took many months.
Yi Qian, deputy general manager of Tmall Global, explained: “In the past, our team often had to meet potential merchants at trade shows or through personal introductions, but 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.”
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. The platform currently hosts more than 20,000 brands in over 4,000 categories from 77 countries and regions. To keep up with rising demand from Chinese consumers, Tmall Global said it plans to double the number of brands in three years.
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 per cent of gross domestic product growth in the first quarter of this year.
Data also shows that online consumption is increasing 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 per cent year-on-year, outpacing that of department stores, supermarkets and shopping centres, the ministry said. In the January to May period, China’s online retail sales grew 21.7 per cent year-over-year.
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.
In addition to English, Tmall Global plans to launch other versions of the site, in Spanish, Japanese and Korean.
It will also advise merchants on optimising their operations after they establish a presence on the platform, such as providing analytics to help fine-tune product assortments that best capture the taste of Chinese consumers.