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How to buy from Taobao: A step-by-step shopping & shipping guide, Lifestyle News

Ah. Taobao, the Chinese equivalent of Amazon or eBay.

If you’ve never heard of Taobao, it’s a mega marketplace that allows you to buy everything from tissue paper to wedding dresses at dirt-cheap prices.

But to be completely honest, the only two times I have EVER bought something off Taobao is when I had friends sitting next to me (as my translators) while I checked out my items.

That’s because… I HAVE NO CLUE HOW TO TAOBAO.

Since everything is in Chinese.

And sadly, there isn’t a Taobao English version for us jiak kantang (Hokkien: only English-speaking) people.

However, I decided to set things straight and learn how to buy from Taobao myself.

And surprisingly, I found out that it’s really not that difficult.

So if you’re a noob like me, this is the comprehensive how-to Taobao guide you need.

TL;DR: A STEP-BY-STEP TAOBAO SHOPPING & SHIPPING GUIDE

Always wanted to buy from Taobao but don’t know how?

PHOTO: Seedly

Here are a couple of how-to guides we created to help beginners and those of you who can’t read Chinese:

You’re welcome.

HOW TO BUY FROM TAOBAO GUIDE

First and foremost, you’ll want to use Google’s Chrome browser before navigating to Taobao as it allows you to perform a page translation.

It’ll look a little off since the translation is ad verbatim.

But at the very least you can kind of figure out what is on the page.

1. REGISTER YOUR ACCOUNT

If you prefer not to use Google Translate, simply click on “登录/免费注册” (Login/Register For Free) and you’ll be redirected to a registration page.

PHOTO: Seedly

Next, click on “English” to create your account in English

PHOTO: Seedly

The next part’s pretty straightforward.

Just follow the instructions.

You’ll need to key-in a verification code sent to your local mobile number, provide your email address, as well as set-up your username and password.

Once you’ve set-up your account. You can start shopping!

2. CHOOSE YOUR PRODUCT

Here’s the part where you’ll catch yourself endlessly scrolling through the millions of products on Taobao.

If you already know what you’re searching for, enter your product keywords into the white search bar located at the top of the Taobao home page.

PHOTO: Seedly

You can filter your search results based on the various categories like brand, size, type, price range, and etc.

PHOTO: Seedly

Once you’ve selected your desired product on Taobao, you’ll be brought to the product page.

PHOTO: Seedly

Here you have a couple of options:

  • “宝贝详情” (Product details) for more information about the product
  • “累计评论” (Read reviews) where buyers leave ratings, comments, and upload images of their purchases
  • “立即购买” (Buy now) to buy immediately after making your selection
  • “加入购物车” (Add to cart) to add to cart and continue shopping

3. CHECKOUT

Once you’re ready to checkout, you can either click “立即购买” (Buy now) to pay for your purchase immediately.

Or you can click on “购物车” (Shopping cart) on the Taobao home page instead.

PHOTO: Seedly

Select the items you want to checkout and click on “结算” (Payment).

PHOTO: Seedly

You’ll be prompted to add your shipping address, postal code, name, and mobile number.

Once done, click on “设置为默认收货地址” (Make Default) if you want to make it your default shipping address.

And click on “保存”(Save) to complete the form.

Once you’ve selected your “跨境配送方式” (Shipping Method), click on “提交订单” (Confirm order).

PHOTO: Seedly

I’ll talk more about international shipping options in a bit.

4. PAYMENT

After confirming your order, you will be redirected to an Alipay account page.

If it’s your first purchase using Alipay, you will need to create an Alipay payment password (6 numerical digits).

Once done, click “确定” (Confirm).

PHOTO: Seedly

Key in your credit card details and click “下一步”(Continue).

Pro tip: if you want to avoid the currency conversion fees, you can use a multicurrency card like Revolut or YouTrip.

PHOTO: Seedly

All that’s left is to verify your payment details and await the delivery of your “宝贝” (Precious item) or purchase!

HOW TO SEARCH FOR TAOBAO PRODUCT KEYWORDS GUIDE

Looking for a specific product on Taobao but don’t know what to search for in Mandarin?

Fret not.

Here’re a couple of commonly searched terms and product keywords which you can use to find the item you want.

ACTIVEWEAR & EXERCISE EQUIPMENT

PHOTO: Taobao




















Activewear & Exercise Equipment
Ankle Guard 运动护踝
Knee Guard 运动护膝
Dry Fit Long Sleeved Tops 速干长袖衣
Dry Fit Sleeveless Tops 速干背心
Dry Fit Socks 袜子
Dry Fit T-Shirt 速干运动T恤
Sports Bra 运动胸罩
Sports Shoes 运动鞋
Sports Jacket 运动外套
Sports Hooded Jacket 运动连帽衫
Sweatpants 运动裤
Tights 运动紧身裤
Yoga Mat 瑜伽垫
Yoga Pants 瑜伽裤

MEN’S FASHION

PHOTO: Taobao






















Men’s Clothing
For Men (add this to the back of your search term)
Short Sleeved 短袖
Long Sleeved 长袖
T-Shirt T恤
Casual Shirt 休闲衣
Polo Shirt POLO衫
Dress Shirt 衬衫
Suit 西装
Suit or Formal Pants 西裤
Suit or Formal Jacket 西装外套
Belt 腰带
Shorts 短裤
Long Pants 长裤
Jeans 牛仔裤
Leather Shoes 皮鞋
Sneakers 休闲鞋

WOMEN’S FASHION

PHOTO: Taobao























Women’s Fashion
Women’s Outfit 女装
European/American Style 欧美风
Korean Style 韩版
Japanese Style 日式风格
High Waisted 高腰
V-Neck V领
Round Neck 圆领
Off Shoulder 一字领露肩
Oversized 大码
Vintage 复古
Top 上衣
Dress 连衣裙
Skirt 半身裙
Overcoat 大衣外套
(Low/ Medium/ High) Heeled Shoes (低/ 中/ 高)跟鞋
White Sneakers 小白鞋
Flats 平底鞋

PARTY SUPPLIES

PHOTO: Taobao


















Party Supplies
Alphabet LED Lights LED 英文字母灯装饰
Balloons 气球
Banner 拉旗
Triangle Banners 三角旗
Happy Birthday Decorations 生日快乐装饰
Party Decorations 派对装饰
Party Table Cloth 派对桌布
Paper Fans 纸扇花
Paper Pom Poms 牡丹纸花球
Paper Tassels 纸流苏
Dessert Display 甜品展示架
Disposable Cutleries 一次性餐具

HOME & DECOR

PHOTO: Taobao




















Home & Decor
Furniture 家具
Home Deco 家居用品
Nordic Minimalist 北欧简约
Modern Minimalist 现代简约
Modern Classic 现代经典
Solid Wood 实木
Dining Table 餐桌
Dining Chair 餐椅
Sofa 沙发
Sofa Chair 沙发椅
Double Bed 双人床
Bedside Table 床头柜
Bedroom Dresser 卧室梳妆台
Coffee Table 茶几

HOW TO SHIP FROM TAOBAO GUIDE

Since we’re in Singapore, the only way we can get our Taobao purchase is via international shipping.

For international shipping, Taobao’s preferred delivery partner is Cainiao.

The following options are presented at checkout, just before you confirm your order.

PHOTO: Seedly

These 4 delivery options are:

  • “官方直送” (Direct shipping)
  • “官方集运-空运” (Consolidated shipping via air freight)
  • “官方集运-海运” (Consolidated shipping via sea freight)
  • “自行联系卖家发货” (Contact seller personally to arrange for shipping)

So… which one should you choose?

Well, it depends on what you are shipping.

OPTION 1: DIRECT SHIPPING

Method of shipping: the shop or seller will ship your items to you via international courier service.

Time it takes for delivery: 8 to 12 business days

Cost: $$$

Recommended for: single purchases which are small or light, or if you need something immediately










Delivery Method “宅配” (Home Delivery) “自提” (Self Collect)
Initial Price

(first 0.5kg)
RMB22 RMB19.50
Price (per subsequent 0.5kg) RMB10.50 RMB10.50
Maximum Weight Limit (kg) ≤ 25kg ≤ 30kg
Maximum Measurements (cm) Width: <80

Length & Height: <150
42x37x61

OPTION 2: CONSOLIDATED SHIPPING VIA AIR FREIGHT

Method of shipping: the shop or seller will consolidate your purchases and ship it to you via air freight, unfortunately, Taobao’s delivery provider doesn’t provide direct shipping to Singapore for this option.

Which means you’ll need to use a freight forwarder to take delivery of your items in Malaysia and forward it to Singapore on your behalf.

Time it takes for delivery: 7 business days (to Malaysia)

Cost: $$ (might run up a bit more as you’ll need to use a freight forwarder)

Recommended for: multiple purchases which you need as soon as possible











  East Malaysia West Malaysia
Delivery Method “宅配” (Home Delivery) “自提点” (Self Collection Point) “宅配” (Home Delivery)
Initial Price

(first 0.5kg)
RMB26 RMB22 RMB29.50
Price (per subsequent 0.5kg) RMB11 RMB10.50 RMB14
Maximum Weight Limit (kg) 25kg 20kg 25kg
Maximum Measurements (cm) Width: <80

Length & Height: <150
Width: <40

Length & Height: <120
Width: <80

Length & Height: <150

OPTION 3: CONSOLIDATED SHIPPING VIA SEA FREIGHT

Method of shipping: the shop or seller will consolidate your purchases and ship it to you via sea freight

Time it takes for delivery: 18 business days

Cost: $

Recommended for: heavy-duty purchases (furniture, lights, tables etc.); multiple purchases which you can afford to wait for









Delivery Method “集运小件包裹” (Consolidated Delivery – Small Package) “集运大件包裹” (Consolidated Delivery – Large Package)
Weight/ Volume 0 – 30 kg 0 – 0.5CBM 0.5 – 1CBM 1CBM and above
Price RMB22 (first 1kg)

RMB7.40 (per subsequent kg; full price charged even if subsequent kg is not fully met)
RMB230 RMB460 per CBM RMB460 per CBM
Criteria Consolidated Packages

Total weight: ≤30kg

Total volume: ≤0.5CBM

Total dimensions: ≤500cm

Single Packages

Total weight: ≤25kg

Total dimensions: ≤180cm

Total weight: more than 30kg but less than 500kg

Total volume: more than 0.5CBM

Total dimensions: ≤500cm

Others

Total weight: >25kg

Total dimensions: >180cm

OPTION 4: CONTACT SELLER PERSONALLY TO ARRANGE FOR SHIPPING

Method of shipping: depends on your arrangement with the seller or shop

Time it takes for delivery: varies depending on your chosen method of shipping

Cost: varies

Recommended for: sensitive or personalised items which require constant communication with the shop representative or seller

COMMONLY ASKED QUESTIONS REGARDING HOW TO BUY FROM TAOBAO

Besides the how-to guides, here are some commonly asked questions about Taobao.

CAN I BUY FROM TAOBAO?

With this guide in hand… Yes, you can!

ALSO READ: Make your Taobao experience easier with these tips

You just need to sign up for a free Taobao and Alipay account, link your credit card or bank account, provide verification, and you can start shopping immediately.

However, there are a few issues which you should be aware of:

CAN SINGAPOREANS BUY FROM TAOBAO?

Yes, you can!

You can either buy from Taobao direct, which gives you the complete range of products and sellers to choose from.

Or go through a third party like Ezbuy.

Or search on Lazada’s Taobao collection, but your choices will be limited to whatever is curated.

IS THERE A TAOBAO ENGLISH VERSION?

Unfortunately… no.

We get it.

Language is a big issue for most international customers. That’s why we created this guide so you can get in on the cheap shopping goodness.

If you can communicate in Mandarin with the Taobao seller, that should give you more assurance with regard to your purchase.

If not, ask a friend who can speak and read Mandarin to help you just in case anything goes south (eg. shipping problems, stock unavailability) and the seller reaches out to you.

Then just buy them a drink for the favour lah…

TAOBAO REFUND POLICY

Returning an item is pretty much out of the question because of the delivery time, distance, and expensive shipping fees.

However, if you received a defective product or aren’t satisfied for whatever reason.

You can choose to submit a refund request to Taobao directly, along with your reason and photographs for evidence.

Once you submit your Taobao refund request, the seller will have 48 hours to respond to you.

If they reject the request, you may re-submit your refund request or communicate with the seller directly via AliWangWang.

If the seller does not respond after 48 hours, Taobao will refund the amount to you on a case-by-case basis.

TAOBAO SHIPPING

Shipping is still a problem for some Taobao customers depending on what you choose to purchase.

Even though Cainiao delivers almost everywhere internationally, you might still need to use freight forwarders if you’re taking delivery for certain items.

This adds a layer of complexity as it includes GST charges, shipping and handling fees.

As a result, delivery times aren’t the most accurate either.

Taobao also has an extensive list of prohibited items, which they cannot ship internationally.

Some examples include:

  • Batteries and items with in-built batteries
  • Electronic devices
  • Food (eg. bamboo products, instant noodles)
  • Items exceeding size or weight restrictions
  • Liquid, paste, and powdered items (like cosmetics)

So take note before buying!

IS IT SAFE TO BUY FROM TAOBAO?

Considering that most things we use in our daily life are ‘Made in China’.

Yes. It is safe to buy from Taobao.

ALSO READ: How to save money while online shopping in 7 steps

However, the marketplace is so huge that there could be unscrupulous sellers hawking counterfeit products and fake goods.

This is despite Taobao’s best efforts to weed out counterfeiters.

Here are a couple of tips which you can follow to protect yourself:

  • Only purchase from shops or sellers with a high number of reviews
  • The reviews should have a mix of good and bad reviews, and reviewers should upload pictures of the actual item (watch out for fake reviews though)
  • Reach out to the seller via AliWangWang to find out more about product availability or more pictures before committing to the purchase

If the deal looks too good to be true, then it most likely is…

This article was first published in Seedly.

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