||This article is written like a personal reflection or opinion essay rather than an encyclopedic description of the subject. (November 2013)|
||This article may require copy editing for grammar and tone. (February 2013)|
Taobao Marketplace logo
|Type of site||C2C and E-commerce|
|Alexa rank||12 (December 2013[update])|
Taobao Marketplace (simplified Chinese: 淘宝网; traditional Chinese: 淘寶網; pinyin: Táobǎo Wǎng) is a website for online shopping in Chinese language, similar to eBay and Amazon, operated in the People's Republic of China by Alibaba Group.
Founded by Alibaba Group in May 10, 2003, Taobao Marketplace facilitates consumer-to-consumer (C2C) retail by providing a platform for small businesses and individual entrepreneurs to open online retail stores that mainly cater to consumers in China, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan.
With around 760 million product listings as of March 2013, Taobao Marketplace is one of the world’s top 20 most visited websites according to Alexa. For the year ended March 31, 2013, the combined gross merchandise volume (GMV) of Taobao Marketplace and Tmall.com exceeded 1 trillion yuan.
Sellers are able to post new and used goods for sale or resale on the Taobao Marketplace either through a fixed price or by auction. The overwhelming majority of the products on Taobao Marketplace are brand new merchandise sold at a fixed price, while auctions merely make up a very small percentage of transactions. Buyers can assess seller backgrounds by information available on the site, including ratings, comments and complaints.
Taobao Marketplace (formerly "Taobao") was launched in May 2003 by Alibaba Group after eBay acquired Eachnet, China’s online auction leader at the time, for USD 180 million and became the major player in the Chinese consumer e-commerce market at that time. To counter eBay’s expansion, Taobao offered free listings to sellers and introduced website features designed to act in the best interests of local consumers, such as an instant messaging tool for facilitating buyer-seller communication and an escrow-based payment tool, Alipay. As a result, Taobao became the undisputed market leader in mainland China within two years. Its market share surged from 8% to 59% between 2003 and 2005, while eBay China's plunged from 79% to 36%. Finally, eBay shut down its own site in China in 2006.
In April 2008, Taobao introduced a newly dedicated B2C platform called Taobao Mall to complement its C2C marketplace. Since then, Taobao Mall has established itself as the destination for quality, brand name goods for Chinese consumers. Taobao Mall launched an independent web domain, Tmall.com, and enhanced its focus on product verticals and improvements in shopping experience in November 2010. It became an independent business in June 2011 and changed its Chinese name to Tian Mao (Tmall) in January 2012. As of October 2013 it was the eighth most visited web site in China.
In 2008, Taobao fueled the overall growth of the Chinese online shopping industry, through execution of the “Big Taobao” strategy with the aim of becoming a provider of e-commerce infrastructure services for all e-commerce market participants.
In October 2010, Taobao beta launched eTao as an independent searching engine for online shopping, providing product and merchant information from a number of major consumer e-commerce websites in China. Online shoppers can use the site to compare prices from different sellers and identify products to buy. According to the Alibaba Group web site, eTao offers products from Amazon China, Dangdang, Gome, Yihaodian, Nike China and Vancl, as well as Taobao and Tmall.
In May 2011, Alibaba Group opened a physical furniture store in Beijing under the Taobao Mall brand. The five-story 25,000sqm Taobao Mall iFengChao Furniture Showroom opened as a complement to their online stores.
In June 2011, Alibaba Group Executive Chairman and former CEO Jack Ma announced that Taobao would be split into three different companies: Taobao Marketplace (a C2C platform), Tmall.com (a B2C platform; then called Taobao Mall), and eTao (a search engine for online shopping ). The move was said to be necessary for Taobao to “meet competitive threats that emerged in the past two years during which the Internet and e-commerce landscape has changed dramatically.”
From 2012 onwards, Taobao began to accept international Visa and MasterCard credit cards; prior, only domestic banks were supported by AliPay. The plan to support international credit cards was announced in late 2011.
On April 29, 2013, Alibaba announced an investment of USD 586 million in Sina Weibo. According to Reuters, the deal “should drive more web traffic to Alibaba's Taobao Marketplace, China's largest e-commerce website with a consumer focus.” On August 1, 2013, Alibaba launched Weibo for Taobao, which allows users to link Sina Weibo accounts with Taobao accounts.
Services and features
Tmall.com offers a shopping experience for increasingly affluent Chinese consumers that offers them the opportunity to buy Western brands. According to the Alibaba Group web site, these brands include UNIQLO, L’Oréal, adidas, P&G, Unilever, Gap, Ray-Ban, Nike and Levi's. ). Again, according to the Alibaba Group site, Tmall.com and Taobao Marketplace set a record for highest single-day transaction volume during a special promotion on November 11, 2012, facilitating the sales of goods totaling RMB19.1 billion on the day. For the year ended March 31, 2013, the combined gross merchandise volume (GMV) of the two platforms exceeded RMB1 trillion.
Taobao’s mascot is the ant, representing their corporate culture as well. "We are the ant army." Jack Ma has introduced Taobao to the outside world. He has used the word "ant army" on more than one occasion. It can be remembered that Jack Ma once organized more than 2,000 employees at a gymnasium collectively at Alibaba to celebrate the 5th anniversary of the founding ceremony. At the party,Taobao employees waved the Taobao mascot — the flag of "ants." At the end of the celebration that lasted for four hours, all the employees stood hand-in-hand, singing "If you do not experience wind and rain, you cannot see the rainbow. The ants that be organized together can beat the elephant."
How to read the shop feedback on Taobao
To thoroughly investigate a Taobao shop, a good way is to view its feedback by clicking the shop's rating icon. For Tmall.com shops, people click the stars to view their ratings. Taobao netizens usually spend time to read feedback and compare items of one shop with those of others.
Launched in 2004, Alipay (www.alipay.com) (simplified Chinese: 支付宝; traditional Chinese: 支付寶; pinyin: Zhīfùbǎo), an escrow-based online payment platform, is the preferred payment solution for transactions on Taobao Marketplace. It is the most widely used third-party online payment solution in China. To ensure safe transactions, Alipay uses and escrow system through which payment is only released to the seller when the buyer has received his or her goods in satisfactory condition.
According to the Alibaba Group web site, Alipay partners with multiple financial institutions as well as Visa and MasterCard to facilitate payments in China and abroad.
A distinctive feature of shopping on Taobao Marketplace is the pervasive communication between buyer and seller prior to the purchase through its embedded proprietary instant chat program, named AliWangWang (Chinese: 阿里旺旺; pinyin: ĀlǐWàngWàng). It has become a habit among Chinese online shoppers to “chat” with the sellers or their customer service team through AliWangWang to inquire about products, engage in bargaining, etc., prior to purchasing products.
In Dec. 2009, Taobao together with Hunan TV set up Happy Taobao, Inc for television shopping. Not only did Hunan TV launch an entertainment called "Happy Taobao", Taobao Marketplace also created channels and independent websites, both of which were to combine electronic commercial with TV media.
Taobao Marketplace has introduced various new features and services in recent years to create a more holistic user experience for online shoppers and retailers. For instance, in January 2010, it launched the Taobao application created by independent developers through the Taobao Open Platform, to be downloaded by consumers in App Store ; in March 2010, it introduced the Taobao Data Cube platform, which gives small businesses access to its aggregate consumer transactions data for insight into key industry trends; and in June 2010, it partnered with Wasu Media Internet Limited to launch a digital entertainment products platform Taohua and interactive digital television shopping, which are operated by a joint-venture formed by the two companies.
Taobao Marketplace has more than 500 million registered users as June 2012 and currently hosts more than 800 million product listings. It has facilitated approximately RMB200 billion in gross merchandise volume in 2009. In September 2013, Taobao ranked 12th overall in Alexa's internet rankings.
For the year ending March 31, 2013, the combined gross merchandise volume (GMV) of Taobao and Tmall.com combined exceeded RMB1 trillion.
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