1.0 Introduction:

The Chinese e-commerce industry has experienced a steady growth over the last decade and the experts suggest the growth is likely to continue for the coming years as well. Swilley, Hofacker and Lamont (2012) identified China as one of the top e-commerce markets in the world. In fact, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology has suggested that the aim of the 12th Five year Plan would be to make China a leader in the global e-commerce segment. The Chinese e-commerce segment is found to be dominated by the Alibaba Group. Taobao and more recently TMall, two subsidiaries of the Alibaba Group are the two most preferred online shopping destinations among the Chinese people (, 2015).

The recent growth of TMall is worth investigating. The brand is currently aiming to replicate the business of Taobao. Since there is a lack of research studies on TMall and its e-commerce operations, an investigation is carried out to assess whether TMall has what it takes to operate as an independent business entity.

1.1 Background of the study:

Past researches have highlighted the fact that the global e-commerce industry has been revolutionised over the past decade or so. The global e-commerce industry is currently dominated by brands like eBay, Amazon and Alibaba. However, Schubert, Williams and Woelfle (2011) believe that the global e-commerce segment is still growing and the industry could be flooded with several players in the coming years. The study of Chiu et al., (2014) highlighted that the reason why e-commerce is so popular among people is time saving operation. The customers need to just login to the site and it takes mere 5 to 10 minutes to complete an order, while the order processing could have been much more complex in the physical stores.

The prospect of the Chinese e-commerce industry and TMall’s continuously growing business has been a major reason behind developing the research study. The Chinese e-commerce segment has the potential to become the largest across the globe, while TMall has the potential to operate business independently. Therefore, the primary essence of the research is to investigate whether TMall can become a successful brand like Taobao and operate independently.

1.3 Research aim:

The aim of the research is to analyse how could TMall follow the footstep of Taobao and become a similar successful and independent brand. The research would conduct a background study on the Chinese e-commerce industry in order to analyse the history of TMall’s emergence from Taobao. After evaluating several empirical data, the research would finally conclude on what strategies can be followed by TMall so that the brand could experience similar success like Taobao. 

1.4 Research objectives:

  • To evaluate the effectiveness of the current e-commerce operations of TMall.
  • To determine whether TMall can duplicate the success of Taobao.
  • To analyse possible ways through which TMall can duplicate the success of Taobao and become independent.

1.5 Research questions:

  • Are the current e-commerce operations of TMall effective enough?
  • Can TMall duplicate the success of Taobao?
  • What strategies can TMall undertake to make sure the brand becomes as successful as Taobao and operate independently?

1.6 Research purpose:

Evaluating the present situation of the Chinese e-commerce sector and determining TMall’s critical success factor is the major purpose of the current research. Together, TMall and Taobao have become a potent brand in the industry. While TMall is leveraging its success from the B2C segment, Taobao is doing the same in the B2B segment. However, it would be interesting to see if TMall can work independently and still manage to be as successful as Taobao. The research findings would be cantered on the whether TMall can turn out to be as big a brand as Taobao is. 

1.7 Rationale:

The steady growth of the Chinese e-commerce sector is certainly a positive indication for the brands operating in the industry. TMall, being a leading player in the industry, can perhaps use the favourable situation to prosper further and operate independently. The brand has been benefitted from the financial and consulting support of Taobao. Although TMall certainly has the prospect, it is yet to be assured if the brand can reach the level of Taobao. Therefore, the findings from the current research can be useful. The research findings can help TMall assessing the current situation in the Chinese e-commerce segment. On the other hand, the brand can evaluate the internal and external business environment that could help in judging the effectiveness of current e-commerce operations. Finally, the research findings can help TMall developing future strategies so that a possible independent business model can be followed.

1.8 Dissertation structure:

The dissertation would be comprised of five chapters as follows

Chapter 1: Introduction

The chapter promotes the research aim, objective and research questions. A background study has been conducted followed by the research purpose, while the research rationale provides justification for conducting the research study.

Chapter 2: Literature review

The second chapter evaluates past literature concerning e-commerce and compare and contrasts the literature using real life scenarios. The propositions of various scholars have been evaluated against the recent practices in the Chinese e-commerce segment and an attempt has been made to find out any possible gaps between the theory and practice.

Chapter 3: Research design and methodology

The methods and approaches followed in order to collect and analyse data have highlighted in the chapter. In addition to that, the selected methods have been justified in order to ensure relevant research findings can be obtained.

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