Everyone now knows Tmall as the most used e-commerce platform in China, where famous international brands have opened a shop to be able to sell their products to demanding Chinese consumers.

Everyone now knows how important it is to have an online store on this platform to reach Chinese consumers who increasingly use online platforms to buy everyday and non-everyday items.

However, few know that this platform offers great advantages to brands, but only to those who understand the Chinese market and consumers and understand the importance of branding and a good reputation for selling on this platform.

In this article we will specifically analyze the various steps to follow to register on the most used e-commerce platform in China.


What is Tmall.com?

Tmall.com (天猫) formerly Taobao Mall, is a Chinese-language website for business-to-consumer (B2C) online retail, spun off from Taobao, operated in China by Alibaba Group. It is a platform enabling businesses world-wide to reach China’s vast and growing consumer market.

Tmall.com has established itself as a destination for quality branded products catering to increasingly sophisticated Chinese consumers and is now China’s premier online shopping platform. In fact, it occupies 63% of the market and has around 800 million monthly active users.

Tmall is a heterogeneous market offering consumers all kinds of products from over 100,000 national and international brands. The brands and authorized dealers are present on Tmall through the creation of a graphically customizable Flagship Store. This allows you to successfully promote your brand identity and create a very accurate user experience, almost as if the user is actually in the store.

In addition to being the leading Chinese e-commerce platform, Tmall also offers benefits to brands such as:

  • Simplified payment process through the Alipay electronic payment system,
  • Acceptance of original and verified brands,
  • An excellent analysis tool and periodic reports on sales trends.

To open a store via Tmall.com, there must be a business entity located in Mainland China holding a Chinese retail business license. Product should also be located within Mainland China to quickly fulfill and ship orders when placed.

Once registered on Tmall, the supplier can take care of his “store”. It must manage:

  • the promotion of its brand,
  • the delivery of its goods,
  • the management of the customer service
  • others

therefore, this option is similar to having your own website. However, you benefit from the Tmall interface. This will give you visibility and credibility with Chinese consumers. But you have to keep control!


What is Tmall global?

Before understanding the registration process on Tmall, however, we need to understand the difference between Tmall.com and Tmall Global, the Tmall cross-border e-commerce platform.

In February 2014, Alibaba launched Tmall Global, the cross-border marketplace for overseas companies that sell products directly to consumers in mainland China. The cross-border model requires that traders no longer have a legal entity in China or a bank account or hold shares in the country.

This was a game changer in the Chinese e-commerce world, as Tmall Global allows foreign companies to sell B2C products to Chinese consumers and get paid in their currencies.

This is especially important for startups and SMEs, due to capital controls, which have made it difficult to withdraw the profits made in RMB outside the country.


What is the difference between Tmall.com and Tmall Global?

  • Tmall global reduces time and costs

As we said before, compared to Tmall.com, Tmall Global doesn’t require that you set up a Chinese company, bank account or hold shares in the country. This process can easily take 4 to 8 months, therefore, Tmall global reduces time and costs.

  • Through Tmall global brands don’t need to keep the product in China

Brands, having store on Tmall Global, don’t need to keep the products in China. Tmall Global products are imported products. Products tend to be stored in bonded warehouses in Chinese free trade zones, though in other cases they are shipped directly from warehouses abroad. The products officially enter China and clear customs after the customer makes an order.

While for Tmall.com the goods are typically stored within Cainiao (Alibaba logistics) warehouses inside mainland China, meaning that products are shipped to customers more quickly.

  • Processing returns is more complex with Tmall Global

As merchants have to find another way to sell or get rid of returned merchandise in China, despite the fact that they do not have legal Chinese entities. This can be challenging for apparel items where the return rates can be high due to size/fit differences.

  • The Tmall Global fees are higher

The deposits and fees can be higher for Tmall Global merchants. The higher deposits are designed to protect Tmall and consumers as it is harder for the platform to force the sellers to provide compensation in case something goes wrong.

To sum up, by using the cross-border e-commerce channel, brands can build a presence in the China market and reach Chinese consumers without investing in time and money in establishing a China entity and registering products. It is less risky and requires less capital than setting up a Tmall store.

While having a Tmall store offer you the possibility to take the advantage of a quick products shipping and prevent products from getting trapped in customs, negatively affecting the customer experience.


How to open a tmall.com store?

Now many famous national and international brands have a flagship store on Tmall. Zara, Estee Lauder, and Adidas are an example.

Here you will find details about the Tmall registration process:

  • The entry process,
  • The different types of stores that can be opened on this platform,
  • The documents required to get started and launch your store.

To open a store on tmall it is necessary to follow a procedure that can take several months. Reason why it is always better to inform yourself adequately and be ready to invest the necessary time and resources into your store launch.


What kind of store can you open on Tmall.com?

Brands can open three kinds of stores: Flagship store, Authorized store and Specialty store.

Flagship store

The merchant is the owner of the brand or has the exclusive authorization of the brand owner when he opens his showcase on Tmall.com

Flagship Stores can be opened in the following circumstances:

  1. The store sells and acts on behalf of a single brand owned by the merchant who opens the store,
  2. The store sells and acts on behalf of multiple brands all owned by the merchant opening the store (special approval from Tmall required),
  3. The shop sells and acts on behalf of a multi-brand marketplace owned by the merchant opening the shop (special approval from Tmall is required).

Authorized store

The merchant holds the authorization documents from the brand owner to open a shop on Tmall.com.

Authorized stores can open in the following circumstances:

  1. Shop authorized to sell branded products,
  2. Store authorized to sell products of multiple brands, but all brands belong to the same entity (special approval from Tmall is required).

Furthermore, the authorization documents of the owner of the trademark (trademark) must not be subject to regional restrictions and the validity period must not end before December 31, 2013.

Specialty store

The merchant sells products of two or more brands that belong to the same product category.

Specialized stores can open in the following circumstances:

  1. The store sells products of two or more brands that the merchant does not own,
  2. The store sells products of a brand (trademark) owned by the merchant and also sells products of a brand not owned by the merchant,
  3. The store sells products of two or more brands owned by the merchant.

A single merchant can apply to open only one specialty store within a single product category.

Tmall flagship required documents

Tmall.com entry process

Entry preparation

  • Determine compatibility and resource requirements
  • Assess prerequisites
  • Determine needs from third party service providers (TPs)
  • Create logistics plan
  • Prepare necessary documents
  • Reserve technical resources
  • Begin API integration more
  • Complete negotiations and sign contracts with TPs

Store application

  • Sign Tmall.com/Alipay agreement
  • Open Alipay compatible bank account

Store development

  • Plan product offering (SKUs)
  • Plan product categories
  • Plan pricing model
  • Establish customer service team
  • Build store page with products
  • Build product detail pages
  • Develop and execute API integration


  • Develop new opening plan
  • Develop promotion plan
  • Upload store pages to Tmall.com
  • API integration online


  • Store live on Tmall.com


How to open a Tmall global store?

Tmall Global sellers are companies with corporate entities outside of China and sell imported products. Brands like Huda Beauty, Everlane and Drunk Elephant are an example of companies that opened a store on Tmall Global.

What kind of store can you open on Tmall Global?

Brands can open 4 kinds of stores on Tmall Global: Flagship store, Flagship store (marketplace), Authorized store and Specialty store.

Flagship store

  1. Products should have its trademark registrations in Hong Kong or have applied for it, but are pending approval.
  2. If the trader owns a trademark, he should provide the trademark registration certificate.
  3. If the Merchant is an exclusive authorized reseller, he should provide the trademark registration certificate and the letter of authorization to sell the products.

Flagship store (marketplace)

  1. The trader should have or have applied for a Class 35 mark (the “Service Mark”) in Hong Kong for his brand.
  2. If the Merchant is the owner of the Service Mark, he also should provide his trademark registration certificate.
  3. If the Merchant is not the owner of the Service Mark, the Merchant will provide the Service Mark and evidence of its exclusive authorization to use or operate a shop on the Tmall.hk website using the Service Mark.

Authorized store

  1. The products should have its trademark registration in Hong Kong or have applied for it, but are pending approval.
  2. If Merchant is not the owner of the trademark, he should also provide evidence of his authorization to operate a store on the Tmall.hk platform.

Specialty store

  1. Evidence of product source, and invoice of the products purchased.
  2. The name of the shop should not infringe the legitimate rights of others.
  3. Specialty store types may sell products of up to two categories


The Tmall global entry process is the same of Tmall.com!


How can GMA help you with the tmall registration process?

GMA is a digital marketing agency which can help you to grow your business with Tmall, China’s leading e-commerce platform through:

  • Register On Tmall & Create your Store

Let us help you with registering on Tmall. We will check if your answers to Tmall requirements and find alternatives if you don’t. If your brand is allowed to be on Tmall we will take care of registering it and create a store that not only tells about your brands but that also make sure the design and UX is localized for Chinese consumers. Our goals: Make sure you have the highest conversion rate possible.

  • Shop Design

We make your shop attractive to Chinese buyers, putting your products on the best possible light.

  • In-platform Advertising

Tmall is a more than a store. It is a product Search Engine. We use Tmall promotion tools and Ads to help you Sell.

  • Off-platform Marketing

KOL, e-reputation, Banner ads, we have experts for each of these promotional strategies.

  • Customers Service and Store Management

Keep your customers happy with a great customers services and 24H chat to help consumers with buying an item. Your Tmall Store will have to be updated often with your new listing, listing that should be visually appealing and informative. We also help you with prepping for the many Chinese festivals and make the most out it.

  • Global Strategy & Branding

Selling online in China can be a challenge if your brand is unknown. To help you increase your conversion and ROI we help you with branding and storytelling. Remember that in China branding is everything, you may be the best if your field, if no one is saying it then you are no one. Level up your game with an Omni-Channel marketing strategy.

  • Reporting & Analysis

We monitor your shops & ads results, optimize them to get you the best ROI. Then we provide you with easy-to-digest reports.


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