• 7 Top Selling Products on Tmall: A Complete Guide

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    Tmall is the biggest eCommerce marketplace in China where you can find practically any kinds of products.

    Its cross-border version, Tmall Global, is also highly popular for brands that want to ship products directly from overseas or bonded warehouses within China.

    Foreign companies often ask what products are in demand on different Chinese marketplaces. Therefore, I’ve written this article where I list some of the most popular products among Chinese buyers on Tmall.

    1. Fashion & Clothing

    Tmall and Tmall Global are two of the most popular options for foreign brands that sell fashion products and clothes online in China.

    By comparison, one of its biggest competitors, Jingdong (JD), focuses more on consumer electronics and kitchen appliances. Kaola, on the other hand, is bigger for food products, beverages, and supplements.

    Nowadays, you can find various big multinational brands on Tmall including Fendi, Burberry, Nike, Adidas, and the list goes on.

    Medium-sized brands also set up shops here now as Chinese millennials drive the eCommerce market and look for unique products.

    The fashion market is sensitive and competitive

    The fashion industry is highly sensitive and big foreign brands have left Tmall with losses and results that didn’t meet expectations.

    For example, Marks & Spencer and Asos both left the marketplace in 2016, even if these companies have seen great success in Western countries.

    Why? One of the biggest mistakes that Marks & Spencer did was that they tried to create a middle-class brand, targeting middle-class consumers. But, these companies generally fail in China.

    Chinese fashion-savvy consumers tend to buy products either in the higher-price segment. Yet they also buy unique fashionable products, such as second-hand products, if these offer a low price-to-value.

    At the same time, middle-class consumers who care less about fashion, but still buy clothes online, tend to go for products that are priced lower than Marks & Spencer’s.

    Marks & Spencer is neither cheap nor offer a high value and their products tend to be a bit boring (including my personal opinion).

    Platform Fees for Fashion Products

    Fashion products are some of the most expensive to sell on Tmall. When opening an online store, you need to pay four major fees:

    • Deposit
    • Commission
    • Yearly service fee
    • Payment processing fee (Alipay)

    The deposit reaches up to USD 25,000, but refundable. The commissions you need to pay for fashion products to Tmall are in the highest range, at 5%. Simply put, Tmall charges a fee of 5% of the product price + logistics cost.

    The yearly service fee is generally USD 10,000, which is also high compared to many other product categories sold on the website.

    Not to forget, brands often need to partner with local Tmall Partners (TPs) when selling on Tmall, which adds to the costs. Marketing fees usually ranges from 5% to 30%.

    2. Baby & Maternity

    The demand for foreign maternity and infant care products is exceptionally high in China, only second after the US. It’s predicted to increase in the coming decade, when the Chinese get more receptive and used to online shopping.

    China is also different in the sense that locals often don’t trust locally produced products. And what would you care more about than your baby?

    Around 75% of Chinese mothers feed their babies with formula, quite different from what we see in Western countries.

    Thus, the Chinese spend much money on imported baby clothes, infant formula, toys, just to mention a few. Organic products are also on the rise, something that foreign exporters should be aware of.

    With stricter regulations for imports of products like baby formula, cross-border sale also becomes an increasingly popular option.

    Platform Fees for Baby & Maternity Products

    As mentioned, you need to pay four major fees when selling on Tmall, including a deposit, commissions, yearly service fees, and payment processing fees.

    Below I’ve included some examples for different product categories:

    Infant Formula:
    • Deposit: Up to USD 25,000
    • Commission: 2%
    • Yearly service fee: USD 5,000
    • Payment processing fee: Around 1%
    Mother’s & Children’s Clothing:
    • Deposit: Up to USD 25,000
    • Commission: 5%
    • Yearly service fee: USD 10,000
    • Payment processing fee: Around 1%

    3. Cosmetics & Skincare

    Cosmetics are sold in vast volumes on Tmall and mainly to young and middle-aged female shoppers that are brand sensitive. Skincare products, makeup, and beauty tools are all in high demand.

    With that said, we see a trend where males buy more cosmetic products. It’s a more untapped market with lower competition that you shouldn’t neglect.

    Not to forget, Tier 3 and tier 4 cities become increasingly receptive to foreign cosmetic brands. Thus, you don’t necessarily need to focus on Tier 1 cities such as Shanghai, even if the demand is higher there at the moment.

    Looking at brand stories, we’ve heard about the success when new foreign brands, such as the Swedish brand Foreo Luna. They sell simple and electric face cleaning tools priced as high as RMB 1,000 to RMB 3,000 (USD 143 to USD 430).

    Previously, they produced adult toys and accessories, but saw an opportunity to develop a new product where the competition was low. Foreo Luna’s success brings some similarities to Daniel Wellington (DW), that’s been highly popular in China and other Asian countries.

    Platform Fees for Cosmetics & Skincare Products

    The fees to list cosmetics and skincare products are comparably high and as follows:

    • Deposit: Up to USD 25,000
    • Commission: 4%
    • Yearly service fee: USD 5,000
    • Payment processing fee: Around 1%

    4. Consumer Electronics

    Consumer electronic products are not as popular compared to the above-mentioned products. In fact, websites like Jingdong (JD) and Suning focus more on this product segment, where shoppers are mostly men.

    With that said, we see many small electronic products and accessories on display on Tmall, where niche products become increasingly popular. One example is the Japanese IQOS electronic cigarette heater which has seen great sales success on the website.

    Drones are also in higher demand and the mobile and electronics accessories market is booming as well.

    Platform Fees for Consumer Electronics

    Consumer electronic products are comparably cheap to sell. Below I included two examples.

    Kitchen Appliances & Daily Use Appliances
    • Deposit: Up to USD 25,000
    • Commission: 2%
    • Yearly service fee: USD 5,000
    • Payment processing fee: Around 1%
    Personal Care & Health Equipment
    • Deposit: Up to USD 25,000
    • Commission: 5% (except for shaving devices)
    • Yearly service fee: USD 5,000
    • Payment processing fee: Around 1%

    5. Food & Beverages

    Food and beverages will continue to increase in demand when young and middle-aged Chinese break the norms and get a bigger appetite for foreign products.

    Having said that, selling perishable food products cross-border isn’t that easy, a reason why many exporters try to find distributors and to import the products in-country. Here, Tmall.com is probably your best option.

    But, we still see high cross-border volumes for beer, wine, cereals, snacks, and more.

    Some of the most popular food products in China at the moment include:

    • Meat
    • Dairy products
    • Fish and seafood
    • Olive oil
    • Fruits and vegetables
    • Preserves
    • Liquors

    Platform Fees for Food & Beverages

    The fees for food and beverage products are comparably low on Tmall Global. I included some examples below.

    Snacks & Nuts:
    • Deposit: Up to USD 25,000
    • Commission: 1% to 2%
    • Yearly service fee: USD 5,000
    • Payment processing fee: Around 1%
    Beverages & Juice:
    • Deposit: Up to USD 25,000
    • Commission: 1%
    • Yearly service fee: USD 5,000
    • Payment processing fee: Around 1%

    6. Vitamins & Supplements

    Vitamins and supplements are in particularly high demand in China. The ratio of elders will continue to increase and China is well-known for having a big aging population.

    At the same time, the Chinese become wealthier, more health-focused and crave foreign vitamins and supplements. Blackmoore is a good example, a big Australian brand that has seen astonishing growth in the Chinese market.

    In 2017, Blackmoore’s had a revenue of RMB 700 million (around USD 100 million) and increased their sales almost six times in just a year. They also doubled their profits.

    We also see an increased demand for gym and fitness products such as Whey protein powders and amino acids. More Chinese become health-conscious and the gym industry is still in an early stage.

    Platform Fees for Vitamins & Supplements

    • Deposit: Up to USD 25,000
    • Commission: 3%
    • Yearly service fee: USD 5,000
    • Payment processing fee: Around 1%

    7. Household Appliances & Furniture

    The kitchen appliance market is currently valued at around USD 30 million, but will grow with a rate of almost 10% until 2023. There are several reasons why the demand of imported household appliances and kitchen utensils will continue to increase.

    China continues to urbanize where many young people move to the bigger cities to look for job opportunities. Nowadays, developers build modern housing often having the newest amenities and where tenants look for smart home appliances.

    We also see an increased demand for energy-efficient and eco-friendly products, to save costs and as the Chinese become more environmentally caring.

    Times are also changing for the furniture industry as the Chinese become more interested in foreign designer products. Brand awareness increases at the same time as price sensitivity decreases.

    China is big when it comes to furniture manufacturing. Previously, many looked for local producers when buying furniture. Foreign brands, like IKEA, have struggled to keep up with the local competition, as local Chinese brands copied their products at a lower cost.

    But, that’s generally not a problem for brands who sell high-end products and where consumers care much about the brand and the design of the product.

    Platform Fees for Household Appliances & Furniture

    The marketplace fees differ depending on the product you sell. Below I’ve included some examples for your reference.

    Home Decor:
    • Deposit: Up to USD 25,000
    • Commission: 5%
    • Yearly service fee: USD 5,000
    • Payment processing fee: Around 1%
    Home Appliances:
    • Deposit: Up to USD 25,000
    • Commission: 2% to 5%
    • Yearly service fee: USD 5,000
    • Payment processing fee: Around 1%
    Furniture:
    • Deposit: Up to USD 25,000
    • Commission: 5%
    • Yearly service fee: USD 10,000
    • Payment processing fee: Around 1%
    Kitchen Utensils:
    • Deposit: Up to USD 25,000
    • Commission: 5%
    • Yearly service fee: USD 10,000
    • Payment processing fee: Around 1%
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