Taobao (Chinese: 淘宝网) is a Chinese online shopping website, headquartered in Hangzhou, and owned by Alibaba. It is the world's biggest e-commerce website and the eighth most visited website according to Alexa.[3] has registered 2003-04-21[4] with domain registrar Alibaba Cloud Computing (Beijing) Co., Ltd.

Taobao Marketplace
Taobao Logo.svg
Type of site
C2C and E-commerce
Available inChinese
OwnerAlibaba Group
Alexa rankDecrease 9 (Global, April 2020)[1]
LaunchedMay 2003; 17 years ago (2003-05)
Current statusActive
Written inPHP[2]
Taobao (Chinese characters).svg
"Taobao" in Simplified (top) and Traditional (bottom) Chinese characters
Simplified Chinese淘宝
Traditional Chinese淘寶

The website was founded by Alibaba Group in 2003. Taobao Marketplace facilitates consumer-to-consumer (C2C) retail by providing a platform for small businesses and individual entrepreneurs to open online stores that mainly cater to consumers in Chinese-speaking regions (Mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan) and abroad,[5] which is made payable by online cellphone accounts. Its stores usually offer an express delivery-service to their clientele.

With over 1 billion product listings as of 2016,[6] the combined transaction volume of Taobao Marketplace and reached 3 trillion yuan in 2017,[7] more than that of all US e-commerce sites combined.[8] The Economist calls it "the country's biggest online marketplace".[9] Sellers are able to post goods for sale either through a fixed price or auction. Auctions make up a small percentage of transactions. The majority of the products are new merchandise sold at fixed prices. 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 after eBay acquired Eachnet, China's online auction leader at the time, for US$180 million and became a major player in the Chinese consumer e-commerce market.[10] To counter eBay's expansion, Taobao offered free listings to sellers and introduced website features designed to act in local consumers' best interests, such as instant messaging for facilitating buyer-seller communication and an escrow-based payment tool, Alipay. As a result, Taobao became mainland China's undisputed market leader within two years. Its market share surged from 8% to 59% between 2003 and 2005, while eBay China plunged from 79% to 36%.[11] EBay shut down its China site in 2006.

In April 2008, Taobao introduced a newly dedicated B2C platform called Taobao Mall to complement its C2C marketplace. Taobao Mall established itself as the destination for quality brand name goods for Chinese consumers. Taobao Mall launched an independent web domain,, 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.[12]

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.[13]

In May 2011, Alibaba Group opened a retail 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 split into three different companies: Taobao Marketplace (a C2C platform), (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.”[14]

From 2012 onward, Taobao began to accept international Visa and MasterCard credit and debit cards;[15] prior, only domestic banks were supported by AliPay.[16]

On April 29, 2013, Alibaba announced an investment of US$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.”[17] On August 1, 2013, Alibaba launched Weibo for Taobao, which allows users to link Sina Weibo accounts with Taobao accounts.[18]

Services and featuresEdit


Taobao's mascot is a dialogue bubble, which represents their corporate culture. Ma introduced Taobao to the outside world by stating, "We are the ant army." Ma once organized more than 2,000 employees at a gymnasium 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."

Shop feedbackEdit

To thoroughly investigate a Taobao shop, a good way is to view its feedback by clicking the shop's rating icon. For shops, people click the stars to view their ratings. Taobao users usually spend time to read feedback and compare items of one shop with those of others.[19] Feedback put up by the user can be genuine or made up which users have to thoroughly read through to conclude. If the feedback style and tone is same, likely, it's made up. Some of the feedback can also be posted by competitors. Users have to look at the majority of the feedback to deduce whether the feedback are genuine. The best way to conclude whether the item is truly worth buying is to look at the available feedback that are posted by users after they've used the item for a period of time.

For every trade deal on Taobao, there must be a section of customer feedback, which is a determination factor of the sale volume for the shop. Therefore, the shop owners often put effort to maximize the positive comments and eliminate the negative ones. Even profitable negotiations happen between sellers and the consumers for rating their satisfactions toward the commodity and their shopping experiences. In order to collect public perspectives towards Taobao services, searching tools and other functions are used to determine and learn the users’ demands, which could help Taobao make more improvements; There are also surveys handed out to Taobao consumers including the following parts:

·The obstacles that you encounter while using the product.

·Your advises and reviews of the product.

·The frequencies of your uses on the product, or the importance of that particular product to the users themselves.

·The satisfaction level towards the specific aspects, including visual and typographic layout, procedure and instruction guide.

·The overall satisfaction level towards the product.


Launched in 2004, Alipay (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.[20] To ensure safe transactions, Alipay uses an escrow system through which payment is only released to the seller once the buyer has received his or her goods in satisfactory condition. According to the Alibaba Group web site, Alipay is partnered with multiple financial institutions as well as Visa and MasterCard to facilitate payments in China and abroad.[13]

Alipay systems are separate for different groups of users. For instance, Alipay users may send and receive funds if they have an account that added a credit card issued in China, whereas users who use credit cards issued outside China may only use Alipay to pay for goods or services from Taobao.[21] This has proven problematic for international users of Taobao, as they are unable to receive refunds that are not issued via the Taobao system.

Regulatory changes issued by the People's Bank of China (Central Bank of China) are set to alter the Chinese online payment ecosystem forever. Top-tier digital payment services such as WeChat Pay and Alipay are expected to transfer all relevant transaction data to appropriate agencies starting June 30, 2018.



AliExpress was created in April 2010 as an international retailing website. People who live overseas can use the service to purchase items from Chinese manufactures online.[22]

AliWangWang (TradeManager)Edit

A distinctive feature of shopping on Taobao Marketplace is the ease of 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 interact with the sellers through AliWangWang to inquire about products and to bargain prior to purchasing products.


In February 2016, 3 expats living in Shanghai launched Baopals, a shopping platform that translates Taobao and Tmall into English so that foreigners living in China can access all of its products and services. Currently, over 2.4 million items have been sold on the platform.

Happy TaobaoEdit

In Dec. 2009, Taobao, together with Hunan TV, set up Happy Taobao, Inc for television shopping. Hunan TV launched an entertainment series called "Happy Taobao", while Taobao Marketplace created channels and independent websites.

Other servicesEdit

Taobao Marketplace introduced various features and services to create a better user experience for online shoppers and retailers.[23] For instance, in January 2010, it launched the Taobao app, created by independent developers through the Taobao Open Platform, to be downloaded by consumers in Taobao App Store.[24]

In March 2010, it introduced the Taobao Data Cube platform, which gives small businesses access to its aggregate consumer transactions data for insight into industry trends.[25]

In June 2010, it partnered with Wasu Media Internet Limited to launch Taohua, a digital entertainment products platform, and interactive digital television shopping, that are operated by a joint-venture formed by the two companies.[26]

Digital MarketingEdit

Singles' DayEdit

Singles' Day (also known as the Double eleven shopping carnival) is the Chinese largest online shopping day in 11th, Nov., which dates from 11th, Nov. 2009 by the Taobao mall.[27] It takes the advantages of the Chinese single day which is created by Chinese students in university to celebrate their bachelordom. After the event was launched, it obtained unexpected attention so many other e-commerce company tried to imitate this model. However, Taobao mall is still the best beneficiary by its accurate and powerful promotion skills till now.

The double eleven shopping day has gained a large number of profit for Taobao since 2009. The sales value on double eleven in 2009 was RMB50 million (£5.68 million) and the value has increased sharply to RMB35 billion (£3.97 billion) and the RMB1.5 billion(£170million) was gained.[28]

Here are the volume of transaction from 2009 to 2019 on Taobao mall for November 11:

2009: RMB50 million (£5.68 million)

2010: RMB900 million (£102 million)

2011: RMB3.4 billion (£386 million)

2012: RMB19.1 billion (£2.17 billion)

2013: RMB35 billion (£3.97 billion)

2015: RMB91.2 billion

2016: RMB120.7 billion2017: RMB168.2 billion

2018: RMB213.5 billion

2019: RMB268.4 billion

It also shows great power from 2014 to 2018, with the volume of transaction from 213.5 billion in 2018.

The continuous successes of Taobao mall double eleven shopping carnival contributes to its varieties of promotion skills and the supportive of quantities of firms. In 2016, Alibaba has introduce the T-mall double eleven party, it invited many popular stars, singers and supermodel who took part in Victoria secret show. The party also invited stars such as Scarlett Johansson, Kobe Bryant and the Beckhams.[citation needed] In the 2017 double eleven party, Jack Ma came out with his new film Gong Shou Dao which means defend the homeland with Kungfu.[citation needed]

Now, because of the huge trading volume and income in Singles Day(11/11), Taobao has launched another promotional activity on December 12, which is the similar e-commerce sales day to Singles' Day. Since then, the volume of trading has set a new high every year.

Developing StrategyEdit

On March 29, 2016, the CEO of Alibaba group, Daniel Zhang, pointed out the three directions of the future development goals for Taobao: more community-based, more content-enabled and local adapted in the 2016 annual customer conference held in Hangzhou. Taobao extensively uses shopping strategies such as data personalizing, customer loyalties, video broadcasting and the focused demand of a single community to build stages for sellers to display their commodities. It is strictly constructing a new ecosystem from content producing, to content propagating, and content consuming with Alibaba's cooperating internet platforms like Youku, Weibo, Alimama and Alifilms. Except for using centralized and demand-matching supplies depending on the need of users to form a self-operational system of content producing and consuming transmission, Taobao also improved the quality of the commodity and its services towards the consumers.[citation needed]

Adaptive AgentEdit

Taobao applies a searching tool named 'adaptive agents'. An adaptive agent picks up the signals from consumers’ purchase records, including categories, brands, functions and colors etc.; The search engine involves the scanning of a particular bar code. Taobao tracks customers' purchasing history and reorganize it into a series of selections that the buyers are likely to be attracted to. The way that an adaptive agent works is image prior models plus the posterior data using BAYES theory (LAPLACE method): The possibility of the occurrence of a certain event can be estimated through the frequency of its occurrence in the past. The ranking of a product or a page can be determined by the combination of its prior information plus its posterior data of click transaction.

The popularity of Taobao's searching model is based on the calculation of correlation rate and quality scores:

  • The static score of a product's title (correlation rate).
  • The matching score of the title and query of a product (correlation rate).
  • The category model of a product (correlation rate).
  • The transaction model of the commodity (quality score).
  • The sellers model (quality score).
  • The feedback (quality score).

Taobao increased its traffic by launching an app.[citation needed]

Semantic SearchEdit

Taobao automatically classifies the text and images of the product, and uses tags to make the correlation match. The usage of the semantic search is to solve the correlative problem that key word texts cannot solve, such as images, complex texts, and ambiguous texts. Semantic search is also a way of recommendation that Taobao presents with more similar items consumers might find when searching one keyword. There are entity tagging and other classifications.

Taobao for Southeast AsiaEdit

In September, 2013, Taobao launched its Southeast Asian site. A translation feature is now available on for major languages in Southeast Asia.[29]

Taobao LiveEdit

In 2018, Alibaba launched the livestreaming service named Alibaba Live. This service was created with the goal of allowing online retailers to market their products utilizing the online phenomenon called social shopping.[30]This has seen significant growth in popularity and success, with 84 stores using this service reporting $7.4 million in sales.[31] Taobao also has stated that they predict live-streaming on their platform will generate over 500 billion sales transactions.[32]

Alibaba has also started to promote a new style of live streaming on their platform, called cūnbō (村播), which features rural sellers. Taobao has even given them their own category in the app, with the purpose of making it easier for these rural sellers to find customers and followers on the platform.[33]


Weitao is a private shopping assistant/blog for Taobao/Tmall customers.[34] It is a micro-blogging feature for use on its e-commerce sites Taobao and Tmall, to bring brands and merchants closer to their fans.[35]


In August 2017, the company removed controversial vendors offering personalised messages featuring African children over concerns of child exploitation.[36] In 2019, Taobao removed all items related to Houston Rockets in response to the organization's general manager posting a tweet about Hong Kong.[37]


Taobao Marketplace had more than 5 million registered users as of June 2013 and hosted more than 80 million product listings.[38] It facilitated approximately RMB 200 billion in gross merchandise volume in 2009.[39] In September 2013, Taobao ranked 12th overall in Alexa's internet rankings.[40] For the year ending March 31, 2013, the combined gross merchandise volume (GMV) of Taobao and combined exceeded RMB 1 trillion.


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External linksEdit