Taobao Mass Training: How to grow a brand in E-Commerce (For Lazada sellers)

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During the Lazada Seller Conference 2019 happening on 27 Sep, we were privileged to be given a full 5 hours training by a Taobao trainer on branding.

Introducing the trainer – Ding Dang, CEO of a branding company in China.

Our trainer, Ding Dang, delivered a content rich 5 hours training filled with case studies of success stories in Tmall. To cut to the chase, this post shall deliver the main points and leave a few of the mentioned case studies as slides for your inference. This post is delivered after the information in the entire 5 hours have been gathered, processed and reflected upon. Therefore, what is written here is not verbatim from the trainer.

Section 1 & 2: Why we should grow a brand in E-Commerce

When Taobao was in its early stages of development, many unknown sellers got on board, using it as an easy platform to sell their products. Traditional heavy-weight brands didn’t consider Taobao as a viable channel for various reasons. First, it was not taken seriously – it looked like it may dilute their brand. Second, they had other considerations like agents’ benefits. For some traditional brands, agents have threatened to not distribute their brands if they were to go online directly. Therefore, traditional brands took a much longer time to start selling online. Smaller brands, however, started learning the ropes and explored various innovative e-commerce marketing tactics that could capture the younger internet-savvy audience.

The rise of the smaller players via the internet with Taobao then was significant. As China grew and prospered, the younger generation of internet savvy consumers were looking for more personalised experience, and the smaller players were quick to respond to these needs. The traditional brands had too many limitations and were held back from being too playful. The smaller players explored various ways to reach out to the young consumers and prospered as a result. As their market share got more diluted, the traditional brands finally saw the need to engage the young online, but they are having a hard time catching up.

The internet was indeed a disruption to the retail industry in China. With e-commerce, manufacturers no longer need to distribute their products via distributors. By selling directly to consumers online, they flatten their channels and gain price advantage. The rise of the internet also meant the ability to communicate one’s brand story at lower costs. No prints, signboards, or storefronts required – only digital designs.

Now, at the initial stages of Taobao’s growth, most of the smaller retailers were competing against each other on price. It was a lose-lose situation as price got increasingly ridiculous just for market share. However, in recent years Taobao saw a surge of sellers using brand communication as their differentiator. The really successful champions from Taobao and Tmall were those who realised the advantages of branding themselves rather than competing on price. They did not have the cheapest products, but they fought for consumers’ trust and engagement. Consumers’ trust and engagement with their brands became their winning chip.

Case Study 1: Huimei Group

Case Study 2: Afu Essential Oils

Case Study 3: Mayn

Section 3: How to build an E-commerce brand?

Our trainer, Ding Dang, browsed the Lazada Singapore’s marketplace and noted that there is still much room for improvement in the way we communicate our brands and products.

We can make full use of our Product Description pages by decorating them with high quality visuals. The message in our visuals need to be well thought through. Instead of looking at our products from the seller’s perspective, try to look at them from a buyer’s perspective. Always begin by asking what our buyers are concerned about, or looking out for. How do our buyers wish to feel with their purchase of our products? What kind of effects do we want to create that our buyers gladly want to identify with our brand? How we present our visuals can make a huge difference to our brand effect.

Needless to say, product competitiveness is plain crucial. There’s no point creating visuals that have consumers believe they are getting a high quality product but receive a different kind of product experience when they use it. Everything backfires when the product nature does not align with the hype created by marketing materials.

The products we are trying to sell must be attractive and value-for-money. These are foundational for a successful marketing / product launch. A product that is obviously not attractive for its target audience will not have a successful marketing launch regardless of how much effort is being put in visuals or communications.

The take away: Products Enable Marketing; Marketing Achieves Brand Recognition

Content marketing helps a brand go viral. Content can come in the form of live feed (video), lifestyle related content (that is humorous or interesting), brand related content that is engaging or even before and after reviews shared by users. These are all content in various formats.

Take home points:

  • Start to look at your store as a brand
  • Think how you may brand your store to engage your audience
  • Always include the young as your target audience, because they are going to be our future. If you can engage the young, your business will not die.
  • Think about the various appropriate formats and channels to communicate your brand, according to your resources. You do not necessarily have to hire an advertisement or marketing agency to brand for you. You can design your own visuals, do your own live videos, and sell your brand on your own at low cost. It does help if you have an eye for design. If not, observe how other brands communicate and learn from them.
  • Other than price, think about what more you can do to differentiate yourself. Think about better service, packaging, post sales services, feel-good factors, etc.
  • Work very hard on your visuals and communications. In the context of Lazada this will mean a redesign of your storefront, category pages, product pages, and banners.

This short post doesn’t do the trainer’s 5 full hours any justice. If you are a Lazada seller, and got invited for any training by Taobao trainers, do turn up. Their sharing is rich with case studies over case studies. We can’t cover them all in a post. You have to be here to experience it yourself.

Once again, thank you to our trainer, Ding Dang. Thank you Lazada SG. 🙂

There’s so much we can do to perform better for 11.11 this year, let’s work together! 🙂


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