TMall has re-engineered the online shopping experience with new technologies to create entirely new brand communication channels. A growing number of brands are opening flagship stores on TMall and using them to deliver new products, exclusive offers, and member services. While TMall has grown to dominate the consumer beauty ecosystem online, China Beauty Expo has created a parallel B2B beauty ecosystem offline.
Gu Mai, General Manager of TMall’s beauty channel, tells Cosmetics News, “Empowerment, by definition, is fundamentally about exploration of Alibaba’s basic capabilities. The deeper the exploration, the greater the empowerment.”
TMall’s Online Ecosystem
TMall has developed a range of platforms to that serve the beauty industry. These include, Tmall International (tmall.hk), Tmall Supermarket (chaoshi.tmall.com), Tmall Direct Sale, and Cross-Border Shopping. “Actually, each platform or channel represents a different consumer group. TMall’s first ability is to provide merchants with diverse and consolidated channels and introduce brands to different segments. In the future, such positioning will be even more accurate,” according to Gu Mai.
Historically, international brands have faced high costs and barriers to entering the China market. Product licensing can take at least 12 months or more. Trademark registration often results in disputes. These complications kept many small- and medium-size brands out of the market. But cross-border shopping has changed that and given small- and medium-size brands access to the China market. TMall’s online ecosystem also helps brands manage their customers and followers. It helps accelerate product cycles and improves online distribution.
China Beauty Expo’s Offline Ecosystem
In the same way that TMall dominates China’s online beauty ecosystem, China Beauty Expo (CBE) dominates the offline ecosystem. The exhibition has expanded from finished products to raw materials, packaging, mechanical equipment and processing, and online retail. For each category, the show serves a different segment of visitors. CBE creates an end-to-end ecosystem: exhibition + conferences + education + supply chain + brands + channels.
The exhibition provides a first step for entering the China market. The first step for a brand is to understand consumer demand. The second step is to develop awareness and recognition among distributors. The final step is determining how brands and distributors can develop distinct services to meet emerging consumer demand. Together, these position a brand to use TMall to crack the China market.
CBE allows brands to gain a clear understanding of the overall China ecosystem in a single event. This allows brands to understand different consumer segments and a range of online and offline distribution channels. Using TMall International, a brand can test the China market for six to twelve months. During this time, it can apply for required licenses and permits. Then, it can open its overseas online store and flagship store. By gaining a clear understanding of the China market and offline ecosystem at CBE, brands will be able to make the best use of their TMall launch period.