What the hell is Qimen?

The term Qimen always comes up on any project involving integration with Tmall. So what the heck is it?

The simplest answer you’d find is that it’s an API solution that enables Tmall integrations.

But they don’t tell you what it really is:

It’s a control system.

When you look up “what is Qimen” it usually rambles on about how integrating with various ERP systems is a hot mess and Qimen helps solve that problem. Qimen controls data structures and formats which does indeed contribute to that cause.

But so can a well organized documentation page. Shopify has very well documented APIs and there’s no confusion about how to use them.

What Qimen ultimately achieves is control over their data. You must request access and deal with bureaucracy before you get approval.

They don’t just give approval to anyone either. Usually it has to be a software vendor verified within the Alibaba app ecosystem. From there you need additional approval on every single piece of data you want to get and they give a verdict based on your use case.

Basically, you need to be somewhat of an insider to get any API access. Before you sign up, make sure it’s worth the hassle.