Chinese Online Marketplace Fees – A Look Into Setup Costs

Li-Anne Krol

Looking to start on one of China’s largest online marketplaces with your cross-border eCommerce business? Then you probably are willing to spend and invest some capital in your new venture. TMO Group has experience with helping external parties get started. Want to know more about online marketplace fees? Then keep on reading!

Of course your China cross-border eCommerce strategy should not only focus on fees and budgets. The first thing to consider is of course which marketplace is the right one. Largely, the market can be divided into: shop fronts on online malls, hypermarkets, vertical specialty marketplaces, and flash sale websites.

Although all of these channels allow you to sell your products in China without the necessity to obtain a Chinese business license, the success of your company is dependent on numerous factors. We have another article coming up that further delves into a few different marketplaces.

Another part of your strategy is the way to handle different sales channels to your advantage. We can broadly define two business development strategies.

  • Fast Growth Strategy (high costs, higher growth)
  • Organic Growth Strategy (lower costs, slower growth)

Eventually the aim is to develop an omni-channel sales strategy where you sell products both off- and online. Omni-channel eCommerce software solutions allow for the creation of a connection between existing information systems and a unified eCommerce platform.

Want to know more about sales channels and entry strategies? Then take a look at our 2018 China eCommerce Insights Series. We explain the current market and developments, how to get started on Tmall and its rival JD.com.

Online Marketplace Fees

Below, we look at setup fees for 4 of the most popular Chinese online marketplaces: Tmall, Tmall Global, JD.com and Kaola.

Note: the amounts mentioned are in RMB and the detail links are in Chinese, unless stated otherwise.

Tmall

Establishing a presence on Tmall in principle incurs 3 types of fees: deposit, annual software service fee, and a commission.

1. Deposit

There are basically 3 tiers for the deposit amount: 50.000, 100.000, 150.000. Some specific categories can be as high as 300.000 (f.e. health and medicine).

Merchants who operate a store on Tmall must pay a deposit. The deposit is mainly used to ensure that merchants operate in accordance with the Tmall Service Agreement and Tmall rules. Furthermore, Tmall and the customer will be reimbursed accordingly for any rules violations in accordance with the aforementioned agreement and relevant rules.

Details: 2018 Tmall Store Operation Deposit Standards

2. Annual Software Service Fee

This fee is generally either 30.000 or 60.000. For specific products, however, such as new or used cars the costs can be as high as 500.000 or 1,2 million.

When you open a store, you must directly pay an annual fee for operating on Tmall. Its amount is based on the highest fee tier in the corresponding category. When the fee is incurred, a standardized discount will be calculated based on the largest category’s sales turnover during the relevant months.

Details: 2018 Tmall Annual Software Service Fee List

3. Software Service Fee (Commission)

Merchants in Tmall need to pay a software service fee (referred to as “rate”) according to a certain percentage of their sales (excluding shipping costs). This fee is largely divided between a 2% and 5% tier. The distribution further varies between 0,5% to 10%, depending on the category. 

Details (English): 2018 Tmall Annual Software Service Fee List

Tmall Global

Costs for entering Tmall Mall include the same kind of fees as Tmall: deposit, annual technical service fee and real-time deducted technical service fee (commission).

online marketplace fees tmall global

1. Deposit

There are 2 tiers for the deposit fee: 150.000 and 300.000

To operate on Tmall Global, paying a deposit is mandatory. Again, this is mainly to ensure you adhere to Tmall Global’s rules. Additionally, you will have to reimburse customers and Tmall Global if any violations occur.

Details (English): Tmall Global Fee Standards (2018)

2. Annual Technical Service Fee

Similar to Tmall, merchants must also pay an annual fee for operating on Tmall Global. There are again two tiers: 30.000 and 60.000. The annual amount is based on ‘premium’ categories. You can check the ‘premium’ category annual fee standards in the 2018 Tmall Global Annual Technical Service Fee Standards Overview (English).

3. Real-time Technical Service Fee (Commission)

Merchants in Tmall Global need to pay a technical service fee according to a certain percentage of their sales (referred to as “rate”). Mostly concentrated in a 2% and 5% tier, distribution further varies between 0,5% to 5% depending on the category. Check Tmall Global’s various technical service fee rates in the 2018 Tmall Global Annual Technical Service Fee Standards Overview (English).

JD.com

Fees for entering Jingdong’s platform JD.com include deposits, platform usage fees (monthly) and technical service fees (commissions). Among these, the deposit and platform usage fees have clearly stated amounts. The technical service fees are charged in the form of rates. Read on further below to see the specific levy standards.

online marketplace fees jd.com

1. Deposit

Generally, there are two tiers of 30.000 and 50.000. Some categories can be as high as 60.000 (computer equipment, storage equipment, etc.), 100.000 (luxury products, wine, milk powder, drones, etc.) or even higher (autos etc.).

2. Platform Usage Fee (Monthly)

This is a fixed rate of 1000 per month. A few categories only charge 500 or even are free of charge such as ticket services and hotel reservations.

3. Technical Service Fee (Commission)

Differences in commission fees on JD.com are quite obvious. The fee is generally around 5% to 8% and the distribution varies between 2% to 10% depending on the category. There are also specific exemptions, check the specific categories at the link below.

Please be aware that the full name that JD.com uses to refer to itself is Plan of Open Platform (POP). The technical service fee is incurred for 2 of the different models on JD.com’s POP. This includes the SOP (Sales on POP) and FBP (Fulfilment by POP) models. The SOP fee is equal to or greater than the FBP. Let’s see what the differences are between these 2 models.

SOP: JD.com gives the merchant an independent backend (control over product uploads, descriptions, prices etc.), similar to the Taobao model. It is required that products are dispatched within 12 hours after the order is generated. The merchant is solely responsible for this part of the service. Merchants do not need to issue a VAT invoice to JD.com, but they need to give each customer a receipt.

FBP: this model also includes an independent backend with control over your store. Merchants in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Chengdu and Wuhan, can additionally make use of JD.com’s own warehousing services. From storage to customer service, this can all be taken care of by JD.com. Services that are supported for JD.com’s own self-operated store are available to merchants (such as same-day delivery (211限时达), personal pickup, cash on delivery, POS card payments etc.), which results in a very good customer experience. Merchants must have general tax payer qualifications and need to issue a VAT invoice to JD.com. (Note: not an ordinary invoice)

Details: 2018 JD.com POP Fee Standards Overview

Jingdong Global

Jingdong Global’s fees are quite a lot higher compared to other platforms and calculated in USD. Like its Chinese parent, the costs include a deposit, platform usage fee (monthly) and a technical service fee (commission). Jingdong’s latest fee policy is the 2017 version which they currently use in 2018.

jd worldwide online marketplace fees

1. Deposit

Most merchants will be in the 15.000 USD tier. If your store manages world-renowned luxury brands such as Chanel and Dior, then every store will need to pay a deposit of 30.000 USD. A few categories are as low as 5.000 USD like music, film and television etc.

2. Platform Usage Fee (Monthly)

This is 1.000 USD per month for all merchants.

3. Technical Service Fee (Commission)

Generally in the 2% to 5% range.

Details (English): 2017Jingdong Global POP Fee Standards List

NetEase Kaola

NetEase Kaola’s fee policy had quite some changes recently. At this moment, there are no details about Kaola’s new fees through their official channels. Based on our experience, there are typically 2 kinds of fees: deposit and technical service fee (commission).

online marketplace fees kaola

1. Deposit

This mostly varies between 10.000 and 100.000.

3. Technical Service Fee (Commission)

Varying between 5% to 7%.

As to further information on setting up your store on Kaola, check the Investment Program on Kaola’s official website.

China Marketplace Store Setup

Did the information above make you want to open a store yourself? Are you looking to get the most out of your China cross-border eCommerce strategy? Want to branch out into a successful multi-channel strategy? TMO Group can help you with these things. We know advantages and benefits of China’s online marketplaces, so take a look at the platforms that we support or reach out to us for more information.

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