Understanding the Difference Between Tmall and Tmall Global
By Laura McElroy

Tmall is the largest B2C platform in China and Tmall Global is a sub-platform that allows international agents to sell their products without needing a physical presence in China. Both platforms are part of the Alibaba Group. 

Tmall and Tmall Global are both a point of entry for any size of business to sell to China. Merchants with an offline retail component and the capital and long-term commitment to set up a Chinese corporate entity might choose Tmall. Merchants wanting to test customer demand before establishing a larger presence in the market often use Tmall Global. 

Merchant requirements

Tmall merchants must have a physical presence in China. They tend to be well-known Chinese brands and some F500 brands that operate in China, such as Estee Lauder, Adidas and Zara. 

Tmall Global sellers are companies operating outside of China. This large cross-border online marketplace allows small and medium-sized enterprises to have a presence in the China market and reach Chinese consumers without investing money and time. They don’t have to meet all the legal regulations etc. to establish a physical presence in China. Less upfront investment is required by merchants who want to set up a Tmall Global store. 

Identifying the right partner to help decide between Tmall or Tmall Global is key to success. WPIC is a Tmall partner that helps brands with Tmall activation and has the experience to help businesses to decide on the platform and type of store to set up. 


Merchants selling from inside of China have to go through various administrative hurdles to get their businesses registered, a license issued and set up a physical shop and warehouse. Tmall goods are typically stored in warehouses inside mainland China and shipped to customers through domestic shipping companies so they can get their products quickly.

Selling on Tmall Global means sellers can bypass the traditional import and export regulations and shorten the administrative process. Merchants can store products in bonded warehouses in the free trade zones. 

The goods are shipped and stored until there is an order and then they are transported to customers. In other cases, they may be shipped directly from international warehouses and only officially enter China and clear customs after placing an order. 

Categories of products

Some of the best-selling products on Tmall Global are for health, beauty, and mom and baby products because these are lighter products that are easier to ship. Chinese customers place more value on foreign brands in these product categories than they do on local brands. However, there are a huge variety of products sold, such as toys, accessories, jewelry and household appliances. 

Tmall is better for selling products like food, beverages and apparel. Customers are more likely to want to try out such products in person before buying them. A physical store allows buyers to see products, try on clothing, and pick up goods they have ordered online. 

Deposits, fees and commissions

Brands pay a deposit fee to initiate their presence on Tmall Global and an annual fee depending upon the products being sold. Tmall also requires a deposit and annual fee, which runs higher than that of Tmall because there is a more significant setup required. 

They both offer different commission fee structures, with Tmall Global charging an extra commission fee point. It also charges a higher consumer protection fee and yearly technical maintenance fee. Foreign merchants, therefore, have more charges than domestic ones but this balances with the fact that they save time and money by not having to register a brand in China. 


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