In 2019, cross-border e-commerce in China netted around $28 billion in total sales, growing more than 38% year-over-year.
Since then, the demand for international brands in China has continued to soar.
And that’s where Kaola.com comes in. It’s one of the top cross-border e-commerce sites in China and competes with Tmall Global and JD Worldwide.
But what is Kaola.com, exactly?
And how can international businesses sell on Kaola?
Let’s go ahead and break it down.
First things first, what is Kaola.com?
Launched in 2015, Kaola.com is the second-largest cross-border e-commerce site in China, with a market share of around 27.1%. It provides a trusted and secure platform for international brands to sell their products to Chinese consumers.
In 2019, Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba acquired Kaola for $2 billion, which has accelerated its growth and significantly expanded its distribution capabilities.
Who is Kaola for?
Kaola is targeted at Chinese consumers who want to import authentic products from foreign countries. This isn’t always easy to do in China, as many cross-border e-commerce sites sell counterfeit products. Kaola can remove this risk by working directly with brands and verifying the authenticity of their products.
Kaola prioritizes brands that are already known in China — especially those selling infant and mom products and food and snacks.
That said, any business can apply to sell on Kaola.com, no matter how big or small. Keep reading and we’ll show you how.
How popular is Kaola, and who uses it?
Kaola.com has around 30 million users and is rapidly growing.
80% of its users are female, and more than 80% are 19-35 years old, which makes it an ideal platform for brands looking to target young female consumers in China.
What are the most popular products on Kaola?
The most popular product categories on the Kaola marketplace are:
- Infant and mom
- Food and snacks
- Health and wellness
- Beauty and cosmetics
- Sports & outdoors
Among those categories, Kaola works with more than 5,000 brands from over 80 different countries, including Nescafé, Aptamil, Evian, Philips, Costco, and LG.
How does Kaola work?
Kaola is an e-commerce site and app that makes it easy for Chinese consumers to buy from international brands. Customers can browse by product category or search for a specific brand or item using the search bar.
Once they’ve found an item they like, the user can add the item to their cart, check out, and usually receive it within three days, thanks to Kaola’s international network of warehouses.
Kaola also has an online community tab where customers can post articles about specific products. Brands can also post in this tab, which offers a great opportunity to interact directly with consumers.
Another key difference with Kaola is that it’s the only cross-border e-commerce site in China to operate a subscription service. Kaola Global VIP costs $40 a year and unlocks exclusive discounts and tailored product recommendations.
How to use Kaola in English
Unfortunately, the Kaola app isn’t available in English, and it can’t be downloaded outside of China. However, Kaola.com English-language users should be able to visit the site and translate it using your internet browser.
If you need any help with accessing Kaola.com in English, get in touch with us, and we’ll be more than happy to walk you through it.
Kaola.com vs. JD.com — what’s the difference?
JD.com is the second biggest e-commerce site in China. It entered the cross-border e-commerce space in 2015 with the launch of JD Worldwide.
Kaola and JD Worldwide have a lot in common. Both sell foreign products to Chinese consumers, and both offer end-to-end distribution solutions. But there are a number of really important differences between the two.
The main differentiator is that Kaola operates a direct procurement model, which means that it’s able to offer 100% assurance that the products it sells are authentic. It even promises to offer anyone who receives a counterfeit 10x the value they paid.
Here’s a quick breakdown of the differences between the two:
|Legal entity||Outside China||Outside China|
|Bank account||USD bank account||Home country|
|Registration||Registered in any country||Registered in any country|
|Warehouse||Outside China or partner warehouse in China||Partner warehouse in or outside China|
|Users||Approx. 335 million annual active users via JD.com|
80% aged 18-45, 65% degree-educated, 68% male, 32% female
|Approx. 30 million users specifically for cross-border e-commerce|
80% 19-35 years old, 80% female, 20% male
|Costs||Deposit: $15,000 |
Annual fee: $1,000
Commission: 2-8%, based on order value
Annual fee: $1,000
Commission: 2-10%, based on product category
|Best for||Beauty products, infant and mom products, health supplements||Infant and mom products, health and wellness, food and snacks|
|USP||Cross border e-commerce(high-end brands)||Cross border e-commerce (guaranteed authenticity)|
Check out our guide to selling on JD Worldwide to learn more.
How to start selling on Kaola
There are two routes to selling on Kaola.com…
First, there’s the direct procurement route
This is when Kaola buys products directly from brands. Kaola then handles the logistics themselves via Cainiao, Alibaba’s global logistics arm. In this model, brands essentially become Kaola suppliers.
You can register for this on Kaola’s merchant registration page by clicking “Join now” under “Proprietary supplier.”
You’ll then be asked to create an account with your mobile number or email address. Once that’s done, you’ll be able to submit your application.
Your application will need to include the following information:
- Your company name
- Company bio
- Company website
- Brand name
- Brand website
- Business model
- Major clients
- Online store website
- Product categories
- Annual sales (online & offline)
- Point-of-contact details
- Legal documentation, such as business licenses and trademarks, etc.
Based on the above, Kaola will review your application and get back to you with a decision.
If they decide to stock your products, you’ll receive a formal offer and be asked to sign a contract. The finalization process can take a month or more.
Alternatively, you can open a third-party store on Kaola
This is when brands can operate their own POP or Flagship store on Kaola and sell directly to consumers. This is usually only available to very well-known brands that are hand-picked by Kaola.
To see if you qualify for this option, you can register your interest by visiting the merchant registration page and clicking “Cross-border trade” under the “POP merchant” option.
You’ll then have to register for a business account and provide the same information as above, as well as other documentation, such as company financial reports and operational information.
How much does it cost to sell on Kaola?
To sell on Kaola, you’ll need to pay the following fees:
- Deposit: $10-15,000
- Annual fee: $1,000
- Commission: 2-10%, based on product category
Need a helping hand getting started with selling on Kaola?
Get in touch with us today. Our team of Chinese marketing experts will be more than happy to get you up and running.
You can also sign up for your free AdChina.io account to advertise your Kaola store on Chinese channels from an English-language platform you can trust.