45 Taobao – 淘寶 (Táobǎo)

Janice Pan

simplified Chinese: 淘宝; pinyin: Táobǎo


Taobao is China’s biggest online shopping platform operated by technology company Alibaba. It was first launched in 2003 and by 2010, had comprised 80 percent of China’s online shopping market. As of 2019, Taobao has over 711 million active users with a transaction total of over three trillion Chinese yuan. Currently, Taobao is mainly catered towards Chinese-speaking regions such as Mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan, but has also launched a site targeted for Southeast Asian markets.

Taobao operates primarily as a Consumer-to-Consumer (C2C) and Business-to-Consumer (B2C) marketplace, meaning that businesses and individuals can sell to consumers through virtual online stores. Sellers on Taobao can either list their products as fixed prices or as an auction, allowing consumers to set the price. However, most products on Taobao are sold through the fixed price method. Buyers can also view a store’s reviews, rating, and store details, allowing the consumer to make informed purchases.

Taobao also has a system of services built into the site that is unique when compared to Western ecommerce marketplaces like Amazon or Ebay. Firstly, buyers on Taobao can contact shops through an instant messaging system called Ali Wang Wang. This allows the consumer to ask questions about the product or make product customizations and specifications. Once the customer decides to make a purchase, they can do so using Alipay, an escrow-based online payment platform. Only once the consumer has received the goods and is satisfied with the product is the payment released to the seller, ensuring that promised goods are received.

In 2018, Taobao also launched a service called Taobao Live, contributing to the exponential rise of live-streaming commerce seen in Chinese markets. In the live-streaming commerce, a seller will livestream their pitch about various cosmetic, clothing, food, or electronic products. Consumers can buy directly from these livestreams, and sellers will often promote short-term discounts that viewers can take advantage of. Taobao Live is a significant example of the success of live-streaming commerce, with daily sales of over $3 billion.

Throughout the year, Taobao hosts multiple shopping events with deals and other promotions. One significant event is Single’s Day on November 11th. It was first introduced in 2009 as a twenty-four-hour promotional festival offering shopping discounts, but slowly grew in popularity. Today, Single’s Day is the largest physical retail and online shopping day in the world, with many of Taobao’s competitors also hopping on the trend and promoting discounts on this unofficial holiday.


Works Cited

Barrett, Eamon. “How Alibaba Made Singles’ Day the World’s Largest Shopping Festival.” Fortune, 9 Nov. 2018, fortune.com/2018/11/09/alibaba-singles-day-china/. Accessed 11 Mar. 2023.

Chinafy. “What Is Taobao and How to Get Started | Chinafy.” Www.chinafy.com, www.chinafy.com/china-tech/what-is-taobao-and-how-to-get-started. Accessed 11 Mar. 2023.

Rungruangjit, Warinrampai. “What Drives Taobao Live Streaming Commerce? The Role of Parasocial Relationships, Congruence and Source Credibility in Chinese Consumers’ Purchase Intentions.” Heliyon, vol. 8, no. 6, June 2022, p. e09676, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.heliyon.2022.e09676.

“Taobao.” Wikipedia, 17 Feb. 2023, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taobao#cite_ref-31. Accessed 11 Mar. 2023.

Trade On Taobao. “What Is Taobao?” Trade on Taobao, tradeontaobao.com/what-is-taobao/. Accessed 11 Mar. 2023.



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Taobao - 淘寶 (Táobǎo) Copyright © 2023 by Janice Pan is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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