How to sell On Tmall Global from the UK

How to sell on Tmall Global: A UK e-commerce seller’s guide

Global expansion is the best way to build your e-commerce business. This guide will share tips and tricks for UK based e-commerce sellers looking to set themselves up on Tmall Global.

Global expansion into the Chinese market is a great way to develop your customer base and increase e-commerce profits. However, success depends on e-commerce sellers signing up to the top platforms, which are rarely the same companies as in the West.

One of China’s most prominent platforms to date is Alibaba’s Tmall. Originally called Taobao Mall, the platform has earned a solid reputation amongst the Chinese public for quality, attracting an additional 2,200 brands to its platform in 2020 alone. Annual active consumers on the Tmall marketplace rose by 20% over the same period.

Recent adjustments to the platform have opened up Tmall to a wider range of international sellers than ever. So how do you get set up on Tmall Global? What are the steps involved? How can you ensure that you have all the correct documentation before submitting an application?

This short guide will help demonstrate how to sell on Tmall as a UK based e-commerce seller and offer advice on how to get the most out of the platform.

How to sell on Tmall 

Tmall isn’t like a lot of other e-commerce platforms and takes its obligations seriously. All sellers need to apply for approval and require multiple checks before they can start making sales to Chinese customers.

Previously, Tmall Global’s approval process took months. However, now the application  process has been streamlined. Online approvals come through in days, with each stage broken down to give e-commerce sellers an idea of what to expect. The company provides a timeline sellers can use to inform them of how long they may have to wait before they can start selling on the platform. 

Before you start selling on Tmall Global

There are three things you need to bear in mind before deciding to sell on Tmall Global. Firstly, Tmall Global only accepts sellers who either own a unique trademark or are fully licensed to sell branded products. Tmall Global is not the right platform for you if you’re planning on reselling items.

Secondly, Tmall is not free. The platform makes money by charging sellers a mixture of annual fees, broken down into five tiers, and commission fees. 

Annual fees for Tmall Global

Annual fees vary between $5,000 and $10,000 USD (between £3,750 GBP and £7,750 GBP) and are set by product category.

Commission fees

Commission fees for Tmall Global are calculated depending on the product category of the items you’re looking to sell. Percentage charges fall between 2 - 4% and are calculated as follows:

Fee = Percentage charge x (Freight cost + product price)

Open a World Account for free

  • Open up to 10 local currency accounts, with local sort codes, account numbers and IBANs
  • Collect secure payments from 100+ marketplaces, overseas buyers and payment processing gateways
  • Pay suppliers, partners and staff in 40 currencies without hidden fees
  • Pay and get paid easily with local bank details on your invoices
  • Lock in conversion rates to manage your currency risk
Open a World Account

Finally, it's worth noting that Tmall is specifically designed to cater to urban, quality conscious consumers in China. You will need to have over three years’ worth of sales, a business entity in China, and a Chinese business licence to use Tmall.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at the approval process for selling on Tmall Global.

The approval process for Tmall Global

There are four stages to the setup process for Tmall Global sellers:

Stage 1: Registration material submissions (2 hours)

  • Select a store type/brand/category.
  • Enter your brand and company information, including your store’s name.
  • Submit your store for review.

Stage 2: Pending review (3-6 days)

  • Initial review.
  • Second review.

Stage 3: Complete your store’s information (1 day)

  • Activate your merchant account and log in.
  • Complete the final round of administration tasks 
  • Lock in your cash deposit and pay the annual fee

Stage 4: Start selling on Tmall Global

  • Post your products and start selling!

Accepting payments from Chinese customers

Getting paid by Chinese customers using Tmall Global isn’t as simple as you might think. It's crucial to ensure you have an account with a payment provider that Alipay supports.

Fortunately, solutions like WorldFirst are designed for just that purpose. WorldFirst makes it easier for e-commerce sellers to accept payment from Chinese customers with their International Collections Account.

For more detail on why it’s important to set up a payment account that works for consumers in China, check out our detailed guide.

Quality and quantity: Selling with confidence on Tmall Global

For e-commerce sellers with their own trademarks or licences to sell branded goods, Tmall Global offers an invaluable window into the Chinese market. By adhering to the guidance provided by the marketplace, sellers can comfortably expand their business into one of the most lucrative markets on the planet.

However, getting paid efficiently will make all the difference to ambitious e-commerce sellers exploring how to sell on Tmall. Using a trusted payment provider like WorldFirst ensures that e-commerce sellers streamline their checkout processes and remain compliant with the unique requirements of the Chinese market. 

Partner with a payment provider attuned to e-commerce platforms like Tmall Global 

Whatever e-commerce platforms you’re using to sell to Chinese consumers, a secure payment gateway like WorldFirst is essential to doing better business in China. A WorldFirst International Collections Account makes it easier than ever for you to accept payment from customers based in the Chinese mainland.


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