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 All Sellers (Taobao & Tmall) or Tmall Sellers.

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. All Tmall products are indicated with a Tmall Seller badge that looks something like this:

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

BROWSING OPTIONS

When you select Tmall Sellers, you'll see more sorting and filtering options, including sorting by popularity, monthly sales, and price. If you happen to be on a category page (you'll see the word "category" in the URL), choosing Tmall Sellers will unlock a whole range of new filters for browsing (look for the "Filters" circle just underneath "Tmall Sellers").

TYPES OF SELLERS

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.

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.

TYPES OF PRODUCTS

Taobao: Pretty Much Anything You Can Imagine.

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

RELIABILITY

Taobao: You’ll find both real and counterfeit products on Taobao, so Taobao is generally best for products that aren’t susceptible to counterfeiting. 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.

PRICING

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.

Still not sure?  Leave a question under Q&A, message us directly on the official Baopals WeChat account, or email us at support@baopals.com asking about the reliability of the product. We will assess the risk associated with purchasing the product and pass the information directly to you along with our suggestion of whether or not you should purchase.

As always, we will continue making improvements to Baopals so that you can shop conveniently, comfortably, and confidently!