Tmall vs. Amazon: What Brands Need to Know Before Expanding to Asia

Rebecca Brown

March 16, 2023

Amazon vs Tmall

Expanding your brand to international marketplaces can be an intimidating challenge for most brands—each platform has different characteristics, key success factors, and consumer journeys to consider

As a trusted trade partner throughout Asia-Pacific, Pattern is familiar with the nuances of Tmall and Amazon and how they can both best be used to help accelerate brands.

Learn more about the differences between Tmall and Amazon and how both can be used to accelerate your brand internationally.

Platform Characteristics

Each marketplace platform has unique characteristics that brands should consider when expanding internationally. 


Tmall’s ecommerce business operates through competing storefronts rather than individual product listings. Tmall is known as not only an online shopping platform, but also an entertainment platform that includes gaming, 3D/AR, and deep user engagement and interactions. Tmall also has many social media elements within the app that help connect consumers. Live chat and fast customer support are essential capabilities for brands that want to succeed on the marketplace. 


Amazon is primarily a shopping platform made up of individual product listings. Amazon’s purpose is to show and advertise products to consumers. Currently, there is little to no interaction among consumers and no social media or entertainment platform within Amazon. 

Key Success Factors

Succeeding on Tmall and Amazon requires knowing and executing a few key factors. Here’s what brands should know about succeeding on Tmall and Amazon:


Brand success on Tmall requires increasing store weight on Tmall through an improved DSR (direct seller rating) score. To receive an improved DSR score, brands should focus on providing an overall better customer experience from the quality of your product to the quality of your customer service. Another key success factor for Tmall is participating in Tmall campaigns.

Tmall is all based on pay to play, meaning brands pay for all advertising and traffic—you can’t win through organic SEO optimization like you can on Amazon. Having an optimized advertising strategy with the correct data for advertising spending will help brands succeed on Tmall. Because social media is such a huge component of the buying experience, a good advertising strategy should also include an effective affiliate marketing matrix and out of channel marketing.


On Amazon, some of the factors that are key to a brand’s success include optimizing for product keywords and understanding keyword relevance. Similar to Tmall, having good consumer ratings is a key factor of success for a brand on Amazon. Winning the Buy Box is an essential part of being successful on Amazon, as 83% of purchases happen through the Buy Box

Consumer Journey


The consumer journey for Tmall is mutli-faceted, starting with the initial search and leading into a variety of discovery, entertainment, and engagement experiences. Then, the consumer interacts with verified brand stores on Tmall, where a purchase is made through multiple transaction methods, and the user finally receives the product. 

See the diagram below of the typical consumer journey for both Tmall and Amazon:

Tmall vs Amazon Consumer Journey


The consumer journey on Amazon is much simpler, with a direct, repeatable purchase flow for each consumer. This journey consists of searching for a product, comparing products directly based on price and quality, selecting a product, purchasing the product, and receiving the product.

Expand Your Brand Internationally With a Trusted Trade Partner Like Pattern

For brands wanting to expand their brand to Tmall but aren’t sure exactly how to do it, working with a trusted trade partner like Pattern is essential to their success. A trusted trade partner can help brands navigate the nuances of selling on Tmall such as optimizing the consumer journey, providing excellent customer service, and ensuring your DSR score is in a good position for continual growth. 

As an experienced trade partner and global ecommerce accelerator, Pattern has helped hundreds of brands succeed on Tmall and other marketplaces throughout the Asia-Pacific region. Pattern has the local experts and resources necessary to help brand partners excel in many categories and throughout various regions.

Looking to sell your product on Tmall or Amazon? Contact us. 

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