Entering the Chinese market has become a critical mission for many global brands. Over the last few decades, China has become the second-largest economy and the largest e-commerce market in the world. Its digital commerce empire boasts hundreds of millions of users, shaped by innovative social commerce models and reliable payment infrastructure.
Shopping through phones and computers has become second nature to many Chinese customers. China’s e-commerce sales are expected to reach 1,556.2 billion dollars in 2024. Despite the attractive customer pool and advanced technology, international brands find it hard to break into the Asian market. This is because many of these brands promote their products in their own way and are not bespoken to the Chinese market.
To expand in this dynamic online retail market, brands need to familiarize themselves with the top e-commerce platforms in China.
Top E-commerce Websites in China
Started in 2003 by the Alibaba Group, Taobao(淘宝) is one of the top e-commerce websites in China. It is both a Business-to-Consumer (B2C) and Consumer-to-Consumer (C2C) e-commerce marketplace. The eBay of China ranks number 11 among the top 15 most visited sites in the world, with more than 127.5 million unique visitors every day. As the most trusted e-commerce platform by Chinese buyers, promoting through Taobao is a must for any global brand to succeed.
With the exponential growth of digital commerce, the circulation of fake goods became increasingly high. To provide authentic goods to shoppers, Alibaba introduced a spin-off of Taobao called Tmall in 2008. This B2C site uses the latest technology to find and remove any counterfeit goods and sues sellers offering fake products. It carries out a thorough analysis of brands before allowing them onto the platform with 180 million buyers.
Pinduoduo(拼多多) ranks first in the fast-growing e-commerce websites in China. It has achieved incredible milestones that took more than five years for Alibaba and JD within two years from its launch. It engages its 731.3 million buyers through game-like features, tailor-made product feeds, and heavy discounts on bulk purchases. As a result, this startup became a household name in the country.
JD (京东) is China’s second-largest e-commerce platform and entered cyberspace in 2004. This massive B2C online retailer with a vast market share serves its customer base through AI and robotic drone delivery systems. In 2021, JD’s customers grew by 29% — amassing to 500 million users. To improve the luxury brand shopping experience, it partnered with top brands in the first quarter of this year.
Xiaohongshu (小红书), also known as the ‘Little red book,’ is a social media and e-commerce platform in China. It was founded in 2013 and currently targets Gen Z female users. Besides selling international products to Chinese buyers, it also allows influencers to post product reviews, vlogs, and lifestyle stories. For the brands looking to attract and engage with a growing Gen Z audience, Xiaohongshu is the best platform.
VIP.com(唯品会) is the third-largest cross-border e-commerce platform in the Chinese market. It was established in 2008 and pioneered the flash sales business model of ‘selective brand, deep discount, limited offering.’ This B2C platform boasts more than 1 million average daily orders, with annual orders accounting for 437 million with 340 million registered. International brands have the privilege to introduce their products to the vast 340 million active users of the VIP.com
Weidian (微店), also known as the Shopify of the country, is one of the newest and largest e-commerce platforms in China. With more than 30 million stores and 1 billion users, it is the best platform for foreign brands to reach the Chinese audience. With this feature embedded in the all-in-one app, WeChat, brands can reach, engage and understand their target consumers more closely.
Douyin Flagship Stores
Better known to the world as TikTok, Douyin (抖音) has launched flagship stores for brands to dominate the e-commerce market. Brands can promote their new products and popular items by live-streaming them; thereby, increasing their exposure to young consumers.
China – The E-commerce Dragon
Online shopping in China took a quantum jump with the push from breakthrough technology and innovation. Despite the language and culture differences, the top e-commerce websites in China paved a safer and more promising path for brands to venture into the vigorous market. Brands not only benefit in terms of revenue but also enjoy a huge presence and loyalty among the Chinese audience.