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What are China’s main e-commerce platforms?

China’s e-commerce is not only Taobao or Alibaba. In fact, China has a wide range of e-commerce platforms addressing different types of audiences across different geographical locations, presenting different features, and selling different types of products. The most popular ones are:

  • Taobao: owned by Alibaba, is a C2C and B2C e-commerce platform with more than 700 million active users, allowing individuals and small businesses to sell all types of products and services directly to consumers, including food and beverage.
  • Tmall: owned by Alibaba, is a B2C platform with more than 500 million active users, covering all China and featuring a wide range of products from fashion to electronics and food. It also has a dedicated CBEC platform (Tmall Global)
  • second largest B2C platform, with more than 200 million active users, it features a wide range of products but it is most famous for electronics, home appliances and books. It also has a dedicated CBEC platform (JD International).
  • Kaola: Kaola has become China’s second largest CBEC platform. In contrast to Tmall Global and JD International, Kaola is a standalone CBEC platforms, and its user base consists of premium customers such as daigou sellers and upper-middle class parents in first- and second-tier cities.
  • Pinduoduo: China’s largest social commerce platform, with more than 350 million active users, it sells mainly low-cost items for audiences based in lower-tier cities across China. In the past, it had a negative reputation of selling fake goods, but significant efforts have been made by Pinduoduo to solve this issue (e.g. opening of a dedicated section for certified branded goods)
  • Vipshop: China’s largest flash sales platform, with more than 60 million users, sells medium to high-quality products (including renowned fashion brands) at discounted rates, but only for limited periods of time.
  • 1haodian: owned by, and with 90 million active users, it sells mostly food and beverage products, including fresh food, as well as FMCG and healthcare products.
  • Xiaohongshu: lifestyle sharing platform that functions as a guide community for e-commerce, famous mostly for imported and overseas products. It has more than 250 million active users and it is most popular among developed cities on China’s eastern coast.
  • Suning: China’s largest Online-to-Offline smart retailer, with over 400 million active users, focusing on electronics and home appliances.

Each platform has its own strengths, weaknesses, target base, and operating costs. European producers should carefully analyse these aspects and develop a complementary portfolio mix accordingly. A detailed introduction of these platforms is available in the following EU SME Centre’s resources: