Alibaba’s Tmall has launched a strategy to bring more Western brands on board, says Adage. For those that don’t understand Chinese – or Alibaba – China’s largest consumer marketplace has just released a step-by-step guide in English that outlines launch procedures, payment schedules and commission fees, as well as the interface the customer sees.
Foreign giants like Godiva, Pampers, and Adidas are already on Tmall, which is an online mall with storefronts for brands and retailers. The National Football League (NFL) has just signed up for its account. The NFL’s managing director in China, Richard Young, said, in China, “when you want to buy something, you’re going on Tmall.”
Another new addition to Tmall is Little Giraffe, an upscale children’s brand favored by Hollywood stars. Images on its Tmall site includes Suri Cruise clutching her Little Giraffe blanket. “Chinese consumers have a growing demand and appetite for Western brands,” said Alibaba spokeswoman Florence Shih, and added that Tmall wants to give them a wide selection to choose from. To that end, Tmall has been hosting roadshows from Atlanta to Seattle to promote its services.
Tmall tries to guarantee the quality and satisfaction of its vendors’ products by having strict rules against selling fake products. Vendors lose their initial Tmall deposit if it is proven that they have done so.
Despite being easy to navigate and invested in quality service, Tmall has some drawbacks. For one, Tmall storefronts are created from templates, meaning some features like promotional videos don’t work on the site.
Additionally brands must pay commission, making discounted deals scarce to come by. “Consumers might want a store experience if they’re paying full-price for designer sunglasses,” said Mary Bergstrom, founder and managing director of The Bergstrom Group consultancy on China.
“In China, e-tailing generated more than $190 billion in sales in 2012, a figure expected to grow quickly as more Chinese gain broadband and 3G access,” reports Adage.
An Alibaba IPO is expected for next year. The company recently led a $206 million investment in U.S. online retailer ShopRunner, an Amazon.com competitor.