Deep dive into Taobao, China’s biggest C2C ecommerce website

Taobao lists all product categories on its homepage

Taobao homepage allows users to browse product categories.

Taobao is a Chinese consumer-to-consumer ecommerce platform operated by Alibaba Group. Established in 2003 by Jack Ma, Taobao is similar to eBay and Amazon. Taobao facilitates transactions between individual consumers and a wide range of venders such as retailers, wholesalers, and individuals.

Company Profile

Name: Taobao
Founder: Jack Ma
Core Business: C2C ecommerce

Basic Information

  • In 2005, Taobao became mainland China’s undisputed market leader with Alipay facilitating their payment system.
  • Taobao’s market share surged from 8% to 59% between 2003 and 2005, while eBay China plunged from 79% to 36%. Eventually, eBay shut down its China site in 2006.
  • In 2011, Alibaba Group opened an offline Taobao shopping center in Beijing.
  • Both Tmall and Taobao began to accept international Visa and MasterCard credit cards in 2012. Previously, only domestic banks were supported by AliPay.
  • As of 2013, with around 760 million product listings, Taobao was one of the world’s top 10 most visited websites according to the Alexa rating.


Besides Alipay and Aliwangwang, Tmall and Taobao both encourage users to leave feedback on their purchased items. This helps online consumers evaluate merchants more effectively and locate the right items for purchase.

Users can see and leave feedback.

Users can see feedback left by previous buyers before purchasing. After receiving the product, users can choose to leave comments to help other buyers make decisions.

AliTrip is an online travel booking platform under Alibaba Group. Vendors on Alitrip have the same resources as Taobao and Tmall retailers, such as using Alipay and Alibaba’s huge user base. However, as a latecomer to China’s online travel market, AliTrip intends to provide more competitive deals for Chinese netizens.

AliTrip's homepage

AliTrip is a platform for travel agencies big and small to set up online storefronts.

As of 2014, AliTrip had more than 10,000 vendors on its platform providing plane tickets, hotels, and vacation packages. Moreover, AliTrip offers services of visa applications and tour guides. AliTrip also allows brands to open flagship stores to provide authorized products. For instance, Cathay Pacific Airlines (left) and Shangri-La hotel (right) are both listed as verified shops.

Cathay Pacific and Shangri-la on AliTrip

Cathay Pacific and Shangri-La have official brand pages on AliTrip to boost air ticket sales and hotel bookings.

Singles Day

Chinese Singles Day (11/11) is China’s biggest ecommerce sales day of the year. As a point of comparison, Americans spent $4.16 billion online during Black Friday and Cyber Monday combined in 2014.

Singles Day generates more than Black Friday and Cyber Monday combined

Singles Day is a bigger online shopping holiday than Black Friday and Cyber Monday combined.

This infographic below also highlights some of the numbers behind the B2C giant’s record-breaking online sales event in 2014. Overall, sales grew over 63% year-over-year to RMB 57.1 billion ($9.3 billion). In 2014, mobile contributed 42.6% of sales compared to just 15.3% in 2013.

Tmall's 24-hour stats on Singles Day 2014

Tmall’s 24-hour stats on Singles Day 2014.

Recent News

Alibaba’s online marketplace Taobao is once-again facing calls to be put back on the US government’s list of “Notorious Markets”. This notorious markets list is for online and physical marketplaces that are linked to substantial copyright piracy and trademark counterfeiting.

In 2011, Taobao was first added to the list, but removed a year later after the company worked with trademark owners to clean up the site. Earlier this year, however, the French luxury group Kering filed a law suit in New York against Alibaba. Kering claims Alibaba Group is not doing enough to protect brand owners and the public from counterfeit goods.

Questionable "Gucci" search results on Taobao

Questionable “Gucci” search results on Taobao.

About Author

Social Brand Watch (SBW) is a collection of experts in digital, mobile and social media in China. SBW was created to complement Resonance's China Social Branding Report, a bi-weekly report focusing on modern marketing methods of the world's top brands in China.

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