The different between Tmall, Taobao, and Tmall international
Taobao.com is the earliest e-commerce platform in China. Actually, in China, Taobao is more famous than Tmall.
Tmall and Taobao are completely interconnected. For example, when searching on Taobao.com, some products are from Tmall. Chinese people don’t really think they are separate websites.
Tmall.com was founded in 2012 to counter JD.com’s rise, Tmall only allows brands that are part of a China-registered company to join. But for taobao.com, anyone can join.
The Tmall international’s domain name is Tmall.hk (hk is for hong kong). But no one actually uses this domain name, most of the Chinese don’t even know there is a different domain name. They find Tmall international’s listings by searching on Taobao.com.
So, Tmall and Tmall international rely on taobao.com, especially Tmall international. Adn actually, most of the traffic comes from taobao.com. According to the statistics, only 0.6% traffic comes from users actively entering Tmall.hk (and I really think those people just the store owners). So basically, either people search your brand name on Taobao.com, either they search your product keywords on Taobao and hopefully your listing is in the first results, only with these 2 ways you will have traffic and sales.
At this stage in 2018, Tmall.com does not completely rely on taobao.com, because the Alibaba group is running massive marketing campaigns to promote it, like 11.11. Also, they are thousands of affiliate partners driving traffic to Tmall in order to earn commissions. So there are more and more Chinese shoppers entering Tmall with Tmall.com, and Tmall is still channeling traffic from Taobao searching. So Tmall.com has everything.
My humble opinion:
1. Joining Tmall international is a good start, but if you don’t do brand marketing or SEO, there will be no free traffic.
2. Joining Tmall.com is difficult for foreign companies, but it’s a long-term strategy if you want to succeed in China.
3. Many foreigners never think about Taobao.com. But to be honest, I think it is a missed opportunity:
- Every Chinese who wants to sell can join Taobao at a cheap price, and for the store itself, it is very similar to a Tmall store.
- You can have many Taobao stores if you want
- You can develop some dealers on Taobao.com, they know how to do marketing in China.
- You have the same searching benefit as Tmall, even more.
After all, those are just the channels, the place to list your products. But a foreign brand should always focus on brand building and make sure that all the listing look professional.