Finance & Economics

How to shop on Tmall

Over 233 million people visited Tmall during the last 6 months

Tmall Global

How to shop on Tmall. Source: is among the top 10 most popular e-commerce websites and shopping marketplaces in the world. Over 233 million people visited it during the last 6 months. During the Double 11 Global Shopping Festival 2019, Tmall’s sales reached 10 billion yuan (approximately US$1,423,000,000) in less than two minutes. This number went 5 times higher over the next 10 minutes.

What is Tmall

Tmall originally spun off from Taobao and was called Taobao Mall, renamed in January 2012. The two platforms have similar principles, but different content. Tmall focusses on brand products. Individuals and companies without a recognised brand can only open a store on Taobao.

For companies outside China, Tmall Global is the sub-platform for cross-border online sales. It allows Chinese consumers to buy directly from foreign merchants. Users who search for products at Tmall can see both regular product listings and Tmall Global listings. If buyers choose to shop on Tmall Global, they will only see Tmall Global products.

The platform has become a key channel for some of the top global brands to launch new products. For instance, in the recent “Double 11 2019” shopping festival in China, Apple’s official flagship store had their transactions exceed last year’s full-day sales 7 times in just 10 minutes. The iPhone 11 alone brought 100 million yuan (about US$14,226,000) in 1 minute.

Being the home for brand products from over 180,000 famous companies, Tmall is a more expensive place to shop compared to its ancestor Taobao. However, higher prices are justified by better quality and the exclusive nature of the goods sold. Tmall products come with a warranty and an extensive after-sales service.


You can prepare a little before placing orders at Tmall. Source:

The platform is specifically designed for businesses with certified brands and other legal documentation. The sellers must have been operating in China for over three years, or have sufficient expenditure to gain traction in the Chinese market. Its customers can be sure they’re buying genuine products from trusted merchants.

How it works

You can prepare a little before placing orders at Tmall. There are a lot of discount codes and special offers on this platform, so you can get the same goods at a cheaper price. The simplest way to find out the discount code for each of the products on sale is by installing a relevant Google Chrome plugin with instant notifications.

The biggest problem for many people is that there’s no English version of the website, so if you can’t read Chinese, browsing can be a bit challenging – even with Google Translate. However, you’ll probably understand the basics.

To visit the Tmall website in English or your native language you can follow these few easy steps:

  1. Go to
  2. Choose to translate Chinese to English (or another language you prefer)
  3. Type down to translate that site. Press enter to translate.
  4. Follow the link of the result.

Another variant is to use the Google Chrome browser. There you can open the website, click the right mouse button, and choose an option “Translate to English”.


You’ll need a Chinese mailing address. Source:

Now you can register your free account. In order to do that, you’ll need a Chinese phone number, email address, and a Chinese mailing address for setting up a delivery destination.

When you browse for an item, you’d better look up the Chinese name for it. English search terms might work, but Chinese ones will get you more precise results. After you added chosen items to the cart, proceed to the check-out.

Now it’s time to make an Alipay account that will be linked to your new Tmall account. Enter and re-enter the password of your choice. It can be the same as your Tmall password. Check the terms of service box, and confirm.

You’ll be shown a list of banks that you can link to your Alipay account. Click on the second tab to reveal credit card options, and scroll down to see the foreign cards. Choose yours, and move on to the next step. Using domestic bank cards is an option only to legal citizens of China, because they require you to enter a Chinese citizen ID card number.

Enter your credit card and cardholder details. Be sure to enter your billing address, not your shipping address. Click the orange button at the bottom, and you’re done! Take note that a credit card transaction fee might be applied.

Your items will be shipped soon, and delivery usually takes 1-3 days in China. Once it comes, it’s good etiquette to confirm payment. If not, this will be done automatically in 10 business days.


The products that can be sold on the Tmall/ Tmall Global store range from normal goods like cosmetics, baby food, beauty tools, supplements, baby care, baby clothes, toys, clothes, watches, accessories, jewellery, skincare, lingerie, kitchen utensils, beverages, and household appliances, to luxury imported cars like Ferrari, Lamborghini and Mercedes, to expensive wines.


Tmall has comprehensive mobile and desktop versions. Source:

You can view the status of your order in the purchased items section after you have purchased the product. You can view the order status; details like whether the order has been shipped, goods location, customs clearance information and delivery time.

If there’s something wrong with your order, you can apply for a refund, clicking on the item in your order history. You’ll be brought to a page full of info about that specific purchase. Select the reason for your refund from the dropdown menu and enter a few details in the appropriate field (Chinese is best here). You can also upload a photo of a broken or incorrect item.

Tmall has comprehensive mobile and desktop versions with the majority of users shopping within the app. The home screen of the app offers shortcuts to Mobile payments. The top-left icon gives you the option to scan the merchant’s QR code, while the top-right one allows you to present your QR code to the merchant.

Both versions greet you by a mixture of advertisements, recommended products and special offers all of which is fairly standard for an e-commerce website. The tab which looks like plant about to grow takes you to a section designed to let users interact with celebrities and follow shopping influencers who discuss the latest trends, use their posts to review items and give advice to their fans.

The activity centre in the bottom bar is where the latest promotion activities take place on Tmall.


The activity centre in the bottom bar is where the latest promotion activities take place on Tmall. Source:

Tmall also offers its customers exclusive omnichannel experiences in their smart pop-up stores. In 2017, they opened 60 physical pop-up stores in 52 malls across 12 cities in China. Here brands can deliver more personalised, futuristic, and interactive experiences. The major features of these stores are:

  • When clients enter the store, they scan their app details to connect to Alipay.
  • Price tags are electronic, you can use discount coupons or membership perks to change them in real-time.
  • Facial recognition technology is used to track customers. Discounts are offered on items they smile at or the ones they have searched for online.
  • Items can be purchased for later delivery. Home delivery details don’t need to be given as the system already has the purchaser’s home address on record. Delivery in major cities in China is already very fast taking from 15 minutes to 3 hours.
  • Customers can receive location-based store recommendations and discount notifications through their Taobao or Tmall app on their mobile devices, driving traffic to offline stores.
  • Customers can “try on” apparel and makeup items virtually, with the help of RFID (radio-frequency identification) and AR (augmented reality) technology.
  • Customers can scan images using AR technology to visit product listing pages and collect coupons.
  • Cloud shelves automatically show you the information about the item you’ve picked up.
  • Consumers can purchase items in-store and take them home using Alipay and they can also have the products delivered home by scanning a QR code and ordering the same item on Tmall with a few clicks.
  • If certain items are not physically available at the store, you can browse the Cloud Shelf for more alternatives.
  • Customers can have fun both inside and outside the pop-up stores by playing video games, watching their virtual image walking around the store, etc. These fun activities also bring instant discounts.


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