The sheer scale of the customer base of the mainland's largest online shopping website, Taobao. com, is something of a headache for the company, its president says. The consumer-oriented online marketplace set up by Alibaba a decade ago has been seeking to take advantage of its system and data resources to meet customers' individual needs and establish a diversified and healthy "online ecosystem". "But we are facing a predicament, stemming from the very different demands from a huge number of customers," said Taobao president and Alibaba vice-president Zhang Yu. The e-commerce site now has nearly 500 million registered users and more than 60 million people visit Taobao every day. Taobao supports searches by users for products ranked by sales volume, retailers' sales history and price, with bigger sellers having a better chance of appearing on the first few pages of search results than smaller or newer retailers. "Actually, many consumers do want to search stuff by sales volume and believe the best things sells the best," Zhang said. "But others want something different. We must take all of their needs into consideration. This is a test of our understanding about consumers and how to use the data we've got." The online shopping portal yesterday said it was going to hold a "double 12" sales promotion from Thursday until December 12 during which it would encourage all Taobao sellers, especially small and medium-sized ones, to showcase their products and services to consumers. Taobao and T-mall.com a business-to-customer shopping platform based on Taobao, reaped 35 billion yuan (HK$44.5 billion) in sales revenue on November 11 during a 24-hour "double 11" sales festival. "Double 11 was to see how much transaction value we can achieve," Zhang said. "Yet 'double 12' is to be a stage for small retailers and to give exposure to the complete Taobao ecosystem." Alibaba chairman Jack Ma Yun has said that one of Taobao's goals is to help at least one million small online merchants each achieve a million yuan of sales revenue a year. Taobao has budgeted 300 million yuan in the form of rebates for consumers during the two-week sales promotion. It will use its "shopping cart" function to recommend products to shoppers based on an analysis of their shopping behaviour. It will also create more than 200 "shopping scenarios" to target different groups of customers, such as car owners and fashion lovers.