Social Media and E-Commerce Sites in China
date: 2020-01-15 Brandy E Baker Read by:

China has become the largest online marketplace. China’s “Singles Day” (November 11th) is the equivalent of Black Friday in the US but on steroids with Alibaba reporting more than USD 38 billion in sales across its platforms. In addition to e-commerce sites, the social media sites are behemoths and home to commercial activities as well. It is estimated that there are over 1 billion active users on WeChat.

With commerce and marketing activities quickly moving online in China, it is important to understand the landscape so as to develop the right strategy for IP enforcement. Here I provide an overview of some popular e-commerce and social media sites to get you familiar.


  • Most are familiar with Alibaba but there are a number of platforms under the Alibaba umbrella. including TaoBao and T-Mall (previously called TaoBao Mall) as well as Aliexpress. Alipay, also part of the Alibaba Group, is the largest online payment system globally and used on these and other e-commerce sites in China.

  • or Jingdong is the biggest competitor to Taobao.

  • Pinduoduo, similar to Groupon, is China’s group buying site with a greater emphasis on social interaction to encourage larger groups of buyers.

  • Suning started out as a brick and mortar retailer focusing on home appliances and electronics but now has become a competitive e-commerce player selling a variety of goods.

  • Xiaohongshu (Little Red Book) is a social media and e-commerce hybrid site which focuses on fashion and beauty products and includes product reviews through text, photo and YouTube-like videos.

  • Vipshop has become very popular and is known as providing discounted products.

  • Secoo is China’s most successful online luxury retailer, also offering some offline services.

Social Media

  • WeChat is by far the biggest player in social media these days. Some refer to it as the Facebook of China, but it is much more and often called the “app for everything”. It’s used for messaging; sharing updates and third party content; making payments to individuals as well as restaurants, stores, taxi drivers using WeChat Pay; sharing location; making video and audio calls; connecting with businesses to obtain services and even buy products online. Most people are using their WeChat accounts throughout the day regularly.

  • Usually referred to as China’s Twitter, Weibo is a microblogging site. It recently also started live streaming service.

  • Douyin allows users to create and share short videos. It’s international counterpart, TikTok, is hugely popular overseas including the US but the two sites are actually separate. Snapchat is a comparable app.

  • Toutiao is a news and information sharing platform.

  • Douban hosts discussion forums, similar to Reddit

  • Baidu Tieba is a place for sharing and getting information through discussion forums, Q&As, blogs.

  • QQ was one of the early players in social media mostly used for messaging but now including other features such as video sharing and games.

  • Dianping is the Yelp of China with restaurant information and reviews.

  • Zhihu is much like Quora with Q&A