Pattern benchmarks 40 Western brands selling on Tmall Global

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Global marketplace accelerator Pattern has analysed 40 consumer brands selling on Tmall Global, the cross-border platform of China’s largest online marketplace, to understand and create benchmarks for best practice on the platform. The analysis has been published in the company’s Tmall Global Benchmarking Report that is available for free download.

The report highlights how top brands in three key product categories – Baby, Beauty, and Vitamins & Supplements – are managing the customer experience delivered on Tmall Global to maximise sales of their products and delight Chinese consumers.

Two brands tied for the top-performing position in the benchmarking ranking, namely Jellycat (Baby) and OUAI Haircare (Beauty), both with a remarkable score of 90.8%. The results highlight how brands selling on Tmall’s cross-border platform must work hard to utilise the features and functionality of the platform to meet the expectations of sophisticated Chinese online shoppers.

Tmall Global owner Alibaba says that there are 100 million active shoppers on the platform, and it has a fast-growing cohort of younger Generation Z shoppers which provides a huge opportunity for Western brands to sell cross-border.

The brands were assessed against a set of criteria that measures how well their Tmall Global flagship store and top three listings performed, including product information, product imagery, branded content, seller proposition & customer service, and brand awareness.

Beauty was the top-performing category averaging a score of 79.7% of the possible marks, while the Baby (77.3%) and Vitamins & Supplements (75.9%) categories closely followed.

14 brands achieved the top five scoring positions, with 83% or higher. They were: Jellycat, OUAI Haircare (90.8%); Jamieson (86.7%); ISDIN, Obagi (85.8%); PhD, StriVectin, Swanson (84.2%); Augustinus Bader, Dr. Dennis Gross, Mederma, OLAPLEX, Pixi Beauty, and Replenix (83.3%).

Pattern sees this result as a testament to Western brands being very capable of achieving a strong presence on Tmall Global by adapting to local customers’ requirements and behaviour. However, the scorecard analysis shows that even brands with a relatively strong presence on Tmall Global can improve their sales performance further with minor changes.

Selling on Tmall Global

Insights from the Tmall Global Benchmarking Report include:

  • Off-platform marketing: The assessed brands had the most varied performance in building brand awareness, each brand’s presence on top social platforms in China was reviewed. Brands can’t rely on on-platform marketing alone to acquire customers, as a strong presence on social channels is critical. While the majority of the brands had accounts on the key social platforms in China, they could do more to increase their followers, leveraging social channels to complement their marketing on Tmall.
  • Customer service: According to our analysis of the Detailed Seller Rating (DSR) score for each brand’s flagship store, the quality of customer services is the weakest link, compared with the accuracy of product information and delivery proposition. Only 10% of the brands had their customer service agents replying to all written comments on the listings we evaluated. Brands scored much better on another key customer service criteria, with 92.5% of brands replying to Live Chat questions from customers within just 30 seconds.
  • FAQs as content: Once customers find your product listings pages it’s crucial the information there converts them to buyers. A Frequently Asked Questions section can help to build confidence and trust from existing and future customers of the brand, but only 32.5% of brands had such a section for all of their products we reviewed.
  • Video: Most of the brands did well in creating localised imaginary for their products, but only two-thirds of them provided video thumbnails to show that a product video was available. Product videos help products stand out as they educate and entertain consumers, demonstrate the product in use and answer consumers’ product questions.
  • SEO: There was clear room for improvement on product titles, particularly their length, as just 45% of the brands achieved best practices for all their products reviewed. Maximising keywords used in product titles is crucial to appear in search results and help new potential customers find your products when they may not search directly for your brand.

Tmall Global is a marketplace with abundant opportunities but also stiff competition. To thrive there, western brands need to excel in varying aspects; from product content to brand awareness, from customer services to shipping timeframes. Pattern recommends consumer brands take a data-driven approach to trading on Tmall, leveraging insight to support strategic and tactical decision-making at every stage of their Tmall journey.

– Arthur Cheung, General Manager, Asia, Pattern


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