Taobao & Tmall: What’s the Difference?

You may have noticed that when you search for products on baopals, you have the option to show results from Taobao & Tmall or Tmall Only.


















What’s that about?

Well, whenever you search on baopals, we bring you results from both Taobao and Taobao Mall (Tmall). Both are brands within the Alibaba Group. Taobao, launched in 2003, is a C2C (customer-to-customer) marketplace where individuals and businesses sell their products. It’s like eBay, but rather than auctions, prices are generally fixed.

Tmall is a B2C (business-to-customer) mall for brands and companies that are legally registered in China. It’s a lot like Amazon. To sell on Tmall, companies must have a minimum 3-year business presence in Mainland China.

What does this mean for you, the shopper? Here’s a quick comparison:


Taobao: Individuals and businesses with Chinese bank accounts and Alipay who are approved by Taobao. Most sellers are intermediaries – buying goods from wholesalers or representing factories. Even your friendly local scorpion farmer is selling on Taobao.

Tmall: Registered businesses with a minimum 3-year business presence in Mainland China. These are companies with an established presence selling their products in China. Over 70,000 brands, both local and global, sell through Tmall.


Taobao: PrettyMuchEverythingYouCanPossiblyImagine.

Tmall: Think of it this way – if it’s sold in a shopping mall somewhere, it’s sold on Tmall.


Taobao: You’ll find both real and counterfeit products on Taobao, so Taobao is generally best for products that aren’t susceptible to counterfeiting (or if you don’t really care, just go for it!). While Taobao doesn’t have the same brand requirements as Tmall, Taobao’s customer feedback and ratings system ensures that bad sellers don’t survive long. Check out our handy guide for choosing the right seller.

Tmall: If you’re looking for a particular brand, and you want to buy directly from that brand (or a licensed seller), go with Tmall. You can rest assured that you won’t get counterfeit goods here (although in China, I suppose, never say never.)


Taobao: As cheap as it gets. Since Taobao has far more sellers, often competing to sell the exact same goods, prices are extremely competitive. You aren’t likely to find prices for any product, in any place, lower than what you’ll find on Taobao (and, in turn, baopals!).

Tmall: Not likely to be as cheap as Taobao, but pretty damn close, and usually a good deal cheaper than you’ll find in a traditional brick-and-mortar store.

In a nutshell, Taobao works much like the busy street markets of China: you’ll find anything and everything, you won’t believe the prices, and you can’t escape the smell of stinky tofu. Not ever.

Tmall, meanwhile, is like your typical shopping mall. Only bigger. And cheaper. And you don’t have to be wearing pants.