May 2, 2019

3 Lesser Known E-Commerce Platforms in China

China currently represents the largest e-commerce market in the world. It’s online base of 650 million users spends approximately $899.06 USD per year. Over the next four years, both numbers are expected to grow to 931 million and $931.80 USD, respectively. At the core of what those figures represent is an unmatched opportunity for small businesses to connect with an active audience. The question becomes which platform is best to engage this audience so they’re aware of the products your business is offering.

We briefly discussed that e-commerce predominantly operates through online marketplaces in China, the largest of those being Tmall and Kaola. Getting your product onto one of these platforms is a positive step towards successfully entering the Chinese marketplace, but each marketplace functions differently. It’s important to understand how each of these marketplaces work so you can capitalize on its strengths in parallel with your product offerings.

Comparing e-commerce Platforms in China

Tmall and Kaola are the most popular, so let’s review some lesser known but still significant e-commerce platforms in China. Here are 3 lesser-known eCommerce platforms in China:

Xiaohongshu (Little Red Book) – Life-sharing community and shopping

Established in 2013, Xiaohongshu (小红书)  leaped to 70 million users by the end of 2017. 90% of the users are female, who are attracted to the community nature created by the platform. Users are able to communicate with each other through comments, and even ask for suggestions on products, which makes Xiaohongshu unique from its competitors.  

Pinduoduo – Group shopping

Although Pinduoduo (拼多多) only launched in 2015, it’s already one of the fastest growing e-commerce platforms in China. What makes this platform unique is its focus on group purchases. Users can often get better prices by coming together and grouping their orders, which Pinduoduo will then order directly from manufacturers.

VIP.com – Flash sale specialists

VIP.com owns about 12% market share for e-commerce in China, largely because it pioneered online flash sales. Approximately 60 million active users contribute to it being number one for online flash sales for roughly a decade. With a repurchase rate of 84%, it’s clear to see why VIP.com is one of China’s leaders for e-commerce marketplaces.

Which Chinese e-commerce platform is best for your business?

Other popular e-commerce marketplaces in China offer a more traditional approach. Suning has approximately 350 million users and earns over $4 billion in annual revenue. Kaola and Tmall together control about 50% of the market with respective revenue in the tens of billions.     

As you can see, there are several options for e-commerce in China that may fit with your business. It is important to select the one that makes the most sense or perhaps choose multiple platforms depending on your business goals.


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