Tmall Versus Jingdong: Which Chinese Ecommerce Platform Is the Best for You?

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Introduction

Tmall.com, formerly known as ‘Taobao Mall,’ is an online retail B2C platform under Alibaba. It is one of the largest platforms for local Chinese and international businesses to sell brand-named goods to consumers in China. Currently, shoppers can find almost any product category on Tmall, though third-party vendors sell most products.

On the other hand, JingDong (JD) started as an online retailer focusing on the three C’s: communication, computers, and consumer electronics. However, they have since expanded their product range to include over 10 million products in 13 categories. Categories including books, luxury, cosmetics, baby and mother care products, among others.

Both platforms carry many of the same products. To the consumer, choosing between the two platforms has more to do with familiarity and customer loyalty. Then whether they use WeChat Pay or AliPay factors in.

However, if you are a brand entering the Chinese market, which platform should you choose? This article details key differences between Tmall and JD from a vendor perspective. And what you should consider when choosing between the two platforms.

What are the differences between Tmall and JD?

The first difference between the two platforms is the fulfillments capacity. JD has always invested heavily in fulfillment in China. Moreover, because they own stock for most of the products, JD usually delivers within one day.

Tmall, on the other hand, does not have most of the product stock. Since third-party sellers hold the stock, delivery usually takes a few days instead of a few hours.

Thus, if you are a brand selling on JD, you can take advantage of the platform’s fast deliveries. Doing so will allow your company to rank higher when consumers search for companies that can deliver fast.

Besides logistics, JD has also invested heavily in technology. For instance, they have invested in a technology that enables your phone to accurately measure your shoe size. As a result, customers can confidently figure out their shoe size when buying shoes online.

Another technology that JD invested in is delivery via drones. Drone deliveries allow JD to uphold one-day delivery guarantees even in remote places of China. This is an added benefit that the platform can offer to consumers compared to Tmall.

Finally, the type of sellers that use Tmall and JD also differ significantly. As mentioned earlier, JD initially focused on selling electronics, while Tmall was focused on selling FMCG and fashion products. Nowadays, the primary battle is for luxury brands. This has been further worsened by COVID-19.  For example, Prada and Miu Miu recently launched their flagship stores on Tmall. However, Delvaux, a fine leather brand, entered China’s eCommerce space by partnering with JD.com. These new entrants added to an already vast roster of luxury brands for both platforms.  We will further explore the difference between Tmall’s ‘Luxury Pavilion’ and JD’s ‘Top Life’ in a future article.

The battle of Tmall and JD’s ecosystems

The rivalry between Tmall and JD is not only between themselves but also between their larger ecosystems. This has been the case ever since JD received an investment from Tencent in 2017. Since Tmall is under Alibaba, the investment from Tencent into JD meant that this rivalry of the platforms extended to become a rivalry of two tech giants in China.

WeChat and JD are now tightly integrated. When a WeChat user searches for or gets a referral of a product from JD, they can hop over to the JD app to view it. However, if a user wanted to open a Tmall page on WeChat, the page is blocked.

Alibaba’s ecosystem is also massive, having stakes in popular social media channels like Weibo, Little Red Book, and Baidu. Of course, just like Tencent’s ecosystem, social platforms under Alibaba do not play nice with any platforms outside its ecosystem.

This leaves a hard decision for brands to make, as both Tencent and Alibaba’s ecosystems have popular social channels. But the catch is that it is a ‘either or’ decision.

Each platform limits payments as well. For instance, you cannot use WeChat Pay for your Tmall orders and cannot use Alipay for your JD orders. This limits users to one platform based on the payment method they normally use.

What should you look for when deciding between Tmall and JD?

Given our experience as a Tmall partner and official JD partner, there are few aspects we recommend considering when deciding to join Tmall or JD.

Firstly, consider the entry requirements for both platforms. Often, we found that it was harder to get onto Tmall compared to JD.  JD is usually more welcoming of new brands as they had some catching up to do with Tmall regarding third-party sellers.

For example, we were working with a Spanish online pharmacy called Farma2Go selling well-known brands like Sesderma and Isidn. While Tmall Global did not show interest, JD welcomed them on their platform.

Another important factor to consider is the costs for cross-border selling. Tmall has the cross-border platform ‘Tmall Global,’ while JD offers ‘JingDong Worldwide.’

Setup, deposit, and commission costs vary significantly from category to category between the two platforms.  Therefore, it is crucial to research the costs for your brand when strategizing for your market entry into China.

Finally, when selecting which platform to enter, look at which platform your competitors are active and how well they’re performing.  On Tmall, you will see quantitative sales results for the past 30 days, including the selling price.  While JD cannot show the historical sales it can show customer reviews which companies can use to estimate actual sales.

Both customer reviews and sales results provide valuable market information before entering the market.  However, sales results may be a more direct performance indicator.

When you are ready to decide between Tmall and JD, feel free to contact us at info@chaoly.com. We’re happy to help.

Who are we?

Chaoly is proud to help companies with our data analytics platform. We help consumer brands active in China make informed decisions based on reliable and real-time data related to their marketing and eCommerce performance.  By analyzing, benchmarking, and optimizing their performance, our team and our data analytics platform support overseas brands in every step of their eCommerce and social media route in China.

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