What You Need to Know Before Entering China's Online Market

  • Expanding into China
  • Expanding into China

Are you missing more than 242 million online buyers?

The majority of international companies are actively present in the European and U.S digital markets, however not all of them are in China. This is surprising when you take into consideration that China has the world's second largest economy and in 2012 had more than 242 million online shoppers.

Analyse your target market

The current internet broad penetration in China is around 35% and a significant increase is expected for 2014, with this figure set to rise to 59.3% or 812 million Chinese users.

  • Consumers in China spend an average of 21 hours per week on the internet.
  • 56% of consumers are men
  • The average age of a consumer is 25
  • 90% of online shoppers in China are between 10 and 39-years-old
  • 70% live in urban areas and have an average income of 575 Euros

Selling on your own site or on an online platform?

There are two main ways to sell online in China, one way is creating your own online shop and the second way is to sell through an online platform.

Creating your own online shop:

To open your own online shop, these are the requirements:

  • Create a URL with cn ending. (It will take a couple of weeks to obtain)
  • Your online shop needs to be hosted in China
  • You will need to obtain the ICP licence. Your company will need to have an office in China or a Chinese partner. This process will take around two months.
  • However, the easiest way to enter the Chinese market is through online platforms

Sell through an online Chinese platform

There are different online platforms for selling your products in China, however the most popular ones are Ali Baba, Taobao and Tmall.

Ali Baba (1688.com in China) is the biggest platform for online sellers for B2B. It was launched in 1999 and is the leading ecommerce platform for domestic China trade among SMEs (pictured below).

Chinese SEO

Taobao Marketplace: This consumer to consumer (C2C) online platform sells new products, catering to buyers who value price competitiveness as well as wide range of products selection (pictured below).

Selling online in China

Tmall: This online platform distributes new and original products between brands and consumers. There are around 500 million people registered on this site. In 2012, this platform was the number one seller website in China. This platform belongs to Taobao group.


Baidu is the number one search engine in China, so its crucial that your site is optimised for this. However, such a big topic requires a blog post of its own.