ChannelAdvisor announced today a deal designed to make it easier for U.S. merchants to sell online in China. The agreement with Alibaba Group Holding, China’s dominant e-commerce marketplace operator, paves the way for retailers to sell on Tmall Global, a web site where international merchants sell directly to Chinese online shoppers.

Tmall Global, Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.’s web site that lets international merchants sell directly to Chinese online shoppers, is about to get a lot more crowded.

E-commerce technology and services firm ChannelAdvisor Corp. announced today at the annual ChannelAdvisor Catalyst client conference in Las Vegas that its platform will start supporting sellers on Tmall Global.

“Integrating with Tmall was a natural step for us,” says David Spitz, ChannelAdvisor president and chief operating officer. “[It] opens up new avenues of growth for our customers.”

More than 140 merchants, such as multichannel women’s clothing retailer Karen Millen, sell on Tmall Global. That number could quickly grow since ChannelAdvisor has more than 2,400 retailer clients and the platform’s added support for Tmall Global will remove barriers for non-Chinese retailers to sell to Chinese consumers, says an Alibaba spokeswoman.

“Everyone seems interested in selling in China but there are barriers that are hard to pass,” said Ralph Zhao, head of Tmall Global. “You need to have an entity or company in China, you have to understand Chinese law. You need to take care of translations and customs. And you need chat because Chinese consumers love to chat before they buy.”


Selling via Tmall Global, he said, eliminates those challenges. 

And ChannelAdvisor eliminates the need for retailers to integrate their accounting software with Tmall, a task that can prove difficult because merchants’ back-end data structures don’t always align with Tmall’s, Zhao said.

Tmall Global charges merchants an annual fee between $5,000 and $10,000, depending on the category, along with a commission that ranges between 3% and 6%.

While ChannelAdvisor is the largest vendor to date integrating with Tmall Global, the relationship is not exclusive. Alibaba is focused on “creating an ecosystem that ultimately makes it easier to do business anywhere and create value for all stakeholders involved—consumers, partners, merchants and so on,” says the spokeswoman. “This means that we are open to cooperation with anyone who is dedicated to making this happen.”


Alibaba dominates e-commerce in China. Its two big marketplaces, Taobao—where many small merchants and individuals sell—and the more brand-oriented Tmall, together accounted for $245 billion in online sales in 2013, according to Internet Retailer’s 2014 China 500. That’s roughly 80% of last year’s e-commerce sales in China.