eCommerce has revolutionized the way people shop, and it has become a pervasive part of daily life across the world. As of 2022, e-commerce’s average penetration rate (i.e., the share of sales made online) was around 20% globally, and it will likely grow steadily by about 1 percentage point each year.
When it comes to eCommerce prominence, China is in a league of its own. The middle kingdom boasts an impressive 46% share of e-commerce sales, surpassing the nearest runner-up (the United Kingdom) by a whopping 10 percentage points.
What’s more, the vast majority of Chinese eCommerce transactions (around 80%) occur on eCommerce marketplaces, which offer merchants simple tools to manage their stores and customers a convenient and safe shopping experience. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at this fascinating landscape and explore the top 15 Chinese eCommerce websites, most of which are marketplaces, along with a few examples of brand eCommerce websites.
This article was updated with the latest data in February 2023.
Note about the data: in the previous iterations of this article, we used Alexa Rating to benchmark these platforms. Unfortunately, Alexa Ranking discontinued its service in 2022. So since 2021, we used SimilarWeb’s data.
While the absolute numbers from SimilarWeb should be taken with a grain of salt, the relative size of the eCommerce platforms should be quite accurate. It’s worth noting that SimilarWeb’s metrics only measure website performance, and do not account for traffic from mobile apps or mini-programs. So, although SimilarWeb provides valuable insights, we must keep in mind that it may not provide a complete picture of an eCommerce platform’s overall performance.
1. Taobao (淘宝)
Estimated monthly traffic: 240 mln
Overall rank: 136. Rank in China: 9
Taobao is the largest C2C platform in China, having been founded in 2003 and solidifying its position as the nation’s biggest marketplace in 2005 after a fierce competition with eBay. Taobao’s significance in the Chinese e-commerce market was cemented by the introduction of AliPay, one of the country’s two major payment systems.
Taobao also transformed the “Singles Day” shopping event into China’s largest shopping festival, and indeed the largest in the world. However, rapid expansion came at a cost: for years, Taobao was the “Wild West” of Chinese e-commerce, plagued with a plethora of counterfeit goods, dubious quality, and even fraudulent activity.
Thankfully, Taobao recognized the severity of the issue and implemented a series of measures to successfully tackle the majority of these problems. As a result, Taobao remains a major player in the Chinese e-commerce market and a trusted platform for millions of shoppers.
2. JD (京东)
Estimated monthly traffic: 150 mln
Overall rank: 190. Rank in China: 10
Another big contender on the Chinese market is JD.com. JD has been around for almost thirty years, starting as a computer equipment seller. The SARS epidemic of 2003 forced the company to take significant losses and shift their business model to online – something that would define their current success.
Gradually expanding into CD, DVD, electronic appliances and finally into a wide range of goods, JD became one of the biggest retail platforms it is today.
JD is keen on exploring new technologies, including autonomous, AI driven vehicles and drones. While most of the innovations are still in development, JD already owns the biggest drone delivery infrastructure in the world.
3. Douyin (抖音)
Estimated monthly traffic: 160 mln
Overall rank: 263. Rank in China: 16
Douyin, also known as “TikTok for China” in Western countries, was originally a short video social platform, developed and launched by the company ByteDance in 2016. In March 2018, Douyin introduced a shopping cart feature together with live streaming and live stream sales functions.
During the pandemic, the “live streaming + eCommerce” new retail format took China by storm. In October 2020, Douyin announced that third-party products are no longer eligible to be used in the live streaming shopping.
Apart from these protective measures, the secret of Douyin eCommerce’s success is the platform’s strong user base and highly intelligent algorithm system. Its “interest-based e-commerce” uses Douyin’s algorithm and data analysis technology to recommend products that match users’ interests and needs.
Another aspect of Douyin’s model is combining social interactions and shopping in one media. Users can easily complete a shopping experience by watching videos, sharing products, placing orders, and making purchases. Douyin’s interest-based eCommerce is becoming an important trend in the development of eCommerce in the future.
4. Pinduoduo (拼多多)
Estimated monthly traffic: 168 mln
Overall rank: 383. Rank in China: 21
Pinduoduo is a relative newcomer to the eCommerce industry, having been founded in 2015. Despite its short history, it has quickly become the world’s fastest-growing company, with a remarkable annual growth rate of up to 50%, catching up with the user base volume of Alibaba and JD.
Pinduoduo is a vibrant platform that has introduced a number of eCommerce innovations, such as team purchases, social commerce programs, and a C2M business model, which allows consumers to directly influence the manufacturers and products they offer. It is also the largest marketplace for agricultural produce in China, connecting Chinese farmers with urban consumers.
However, as Pinduoduo has entered the space near the top of the Chinese eCommerce market, it has faced intense competition from established players like Taobao and JD, and its growth rate has slowed down. It remains to be seen how this monumental standoff will play out in the coming years.
5. TMall (天猫)
Estimated monthly traffic: 64 mln
Overall rank: 361. Rank in China: 25
TMall is a well-known online marketplace in China that specializes in business-to-consumer (B2C) sales. It was created as a spin-off of the C2C platform Taobao in 2011 and quickly established itself as one of the largest e-commerce platforms in China and globally. According to previous benchmarks using Alexa ratings, TMall was once the most popular website in China and the third most popular in the world.
One area in which TMall differentiates itself is its strict approach to counterfeit goods. To combat this issue, TMall requires a relatively high entry deposit and annual fees, with stores that maintain high ratings eligible for partial refunds.
TMall Global is a branch of TMall that is dedicated to helping foreign brands establish their presence in China. It is now the largest cross-border marketplace in China, offering foreign brands access to the Chinese market. . For more information on the entry process, check out our recent article
6. Xiaohongshu (小红书)
Estimated monthly traffic: 120 mln
Overall rank: 512. Rank in China: 30
Xiaohongshu (Little Red Book) is a unique platform in that it began as a community of reviewers where people could share their reviews of travel, restaurants, events, and shopping. The focus on shopping reviews was a key starting point for the platform’s evolution into a fashion, beauty, and lifestyle marketplace. Today, Xiaohongshu operates as a 100% app-based platform, with the desktop version of their website serving essentially as a link to their app download page.
7. SMZDM (什么值得买)
Estimated monthly traffic: 32 mln
Overall rank: 1914. Rank in China: 74
SMZDM – the name is a Chinese phrase that can be translated as “What’s Worth Buying” (什么值得买) was created by Beijing company Worth Buying Technology in 2015. The website is a combination of eCommerce and a “consumer encyclopedia”, building content the same way Wikipedia does. Portal provides real-time information on quality online shopping deals and original shopping guides. Its goal is to become the “first stop for quality consumption” in the minds of consumers. The content represented on the platform covers multiple areas from electronics, home life, fashion and sports, to tourism, cars, and credit cards.
8. 1688 (Alibaba, 阿里巴巴)
Estimated monthly traffic: 25 mln
Overall rank: 1537. Rank in China: 84
1688 (when said in Chinese, these numbers sound similar to Alibaba) is a platform, service domestic B2B sales. Most of the merchants on the platform are factories and manufacturers, selling their product in bulk. 1688 is the largest wholesale platform in China.
Technically, one does not have to be a big enterprise to buy in 1688 – it is used by small businesses and even individual buyers who are looking for good deals and are ready to buy in a relatively larger amount.
9. Vipshop (唯品会)
Estimated monthly traffic: 6 mln
Overall rank: 7268. Rank in China: 210
Vip.com (previously vipshop.com) started operating in 2008 and based its success on the model “Deep discounts – limited time offers – Quality guarantee”. Up until a few years ago, it was getting closer to the top of Chinese eCommerce, getting to the third place after TMall and JD.
10. Dianping (大众点评)
Estimated monthly traffic: 10 mln
Overall rank: 7390. Rank in China: 218
Technically not an eCommerce marketplace, Dianping still plays an immense role in the Chinese online ecosystem as the biggest review website. Every service that can be reviewed – from restaurants and spas to pet shops and wedding services (although food is by far the most popular topic).
11. Meituan (美团)
Estimated monthly traffic: 7 mln
Overall rank: 7926. Rank in China: 232
Meituan started as a group buy site that was founded in 2010. After a series of successful consolidations with other services, Meituan became the biggest deal-of-the-day group buy company in China, accounting for about 60% of the market.
Company diversifies its offers into all kinds of services: from hotel and ticket bookings to bike rentals. It also places a huge importance on customer service, and a convenient refund policy.
Meituan merged with Dianping in September 2020, securing its position on the top even more. Company was renamed to Meituan Dianping.
12. Amazon China (亚马逊中国)
Estimated monthly traffic: 5 mln
Overall rank: 6906. Rank in China: 233
Amazon’s history of trying to enter the Chinese market goes back as far as 2004, when the Chinese branch was established. Fast forward 15 years – the international giant announced its withdrawal from the Chinese domestic market.
Amazon still keeps its presence in China with regard to the cross-border market, electronic books, logistical and cloud hosting services (AWS).
13. Suning (苏宁)
Estimated monthly traffic: 6 mln
Overall rank: 13756. Rank in China: 436
Suning started as a chain of domestic appliances stores, but ended up expanding its offer to all sorts of everyday items – from babycare products to books.
Suning has one of the stronger logistical systems in China with 10.000 physical stores, and 100.000 employed truck drivers. It also operates the country’s biggest state-of-the-art warehouse served by fully automated unmanned robots.
14. Dangdang (当当)
Estimated monthly traffic: 3 mln
Overall rank: 19110. Rank in China: 611
Similar to JD, Dangdang started its path to success with selling electronics and digital goods. Later it moved to include other categories – from snacks to apparel.
15. VMall (华为商城)
Estimated monthly traffic: 2.5 mln
Overall rank: 23870. Rank in China: 819
VMall is an example of an eCommerce platform developed and operated by one brand – in this case, Huawei. Obviously, it is focused on Huawei products – mobile phones, laptops etc, but also partners with smaller, less prominent brands, who do not compete with Huawei directly, but can enrich the catalog.
With this we conclude our list of top 15 prominent Chinese eCommerce marketplaces eCommerce websites. The Chinese landscape is very dynamic. Even if the list of players is more or less settled, the battle for the few several lines is not over – we witnessed an amazing rise of Pinduoduo almost to the very top a couple years before and similar success story from Douyin this year. We will keep updating this list regularly to keep you up to date with the latest developments in this exciting ecosystem.
If you are interested in becoming a part of this ecosystem and entering the Chinese market – we’d be happy to share our experience to make your future story a resounding success. Feel free to start a conversation on the page of our website. Contact Us