Shopping online at the Chinese e-commerce site can be pretty tricky – so read on for handy tips on how to get more bang for your buck on Taobao
There’s Amazon, Target, and countless other shopping websites that we always turn to when in need of retail therapy. Taobao, on the other hand, is in a league of its own. Touted as the Amazon of China, this mega online retailer is pure shopping heaven with an unbelievable range of products (over 800 million!) ranging from clothes to accessories, furniture, appliances, toys, and home wares at unbeatable bargains. Did someone say “shopping spree”?
As enticing as it sounds, shopping on Taobao can be pretty tricky. The website is entirely in Mandarin – a total bummer if your command of the language is abysmal or navigating a website in a foreign language scares the bejesus out of you. But don’t fret, dear readers: in aid of shopaholics everywhere, here is our beginner’s guide to shopping on Taobao.
Shop directly or through an agent
There are two ways to shop on Taobao: directly on the site or through an agent. If you’re confident enough to shop directly without an aid of an agent, here’s a step-by-step guide on how to shop on Taobao. For first-timers on Taobao, we definitely recommend using an agent – it’s much easier this way (trust us!).
What is a Taobao agent?
Think of it as a personal shopping concierge service where you can purchase items from Taobao through its site. There are a number of Taobao agents to choose from – such as SGshop, skycart, 65daigou, and Peeka. Here’s a comparison of rates charged by each agent.
What does it do?
A Taobao agent will charge a small percentage of your order, and for that fee, it will:
- Translate the Taobao product listing you wish to order into English
- Purchase your order and communicate with Taobao vendors
- Handle complicated matters like shipping fees, taxes, mail tracking, package consolidation, quality checks, and even refunds (so that you don’t have to – phew!)
- Bonus: Taobao agents also offer added perks like subsidised shipping, rewards programs, and self-pick up at various locations around Singapore. Score!
Let’s get shopping!
Once you’ve settled on an agent, it’s time to get shopping. For demonstration purposes, we’re using skycart for a step-by-step on how to shop on Taobao through an agent.
- Search for the item on Taobao, copy the URL, and paste it in skycart
2. Click on ‘I want this’, select the size and colour of your choice, and add to cart
3. Proceed to checkout when you’re done shopping. Be sure to review your order first!
4. Select your shipping and collection methods (psst…check out the different rates before payment)
5. After transferring the payment to skycart, fill in the relevant details in the form
6. And….you’re done! Now just sit tight for your orders to be delivered to you!
Other tips and tricks to shopping on Taobao
- When browsing Taobao, use Google Chrome as your browser as it will automatically translate the site into English (although take note: the translations can sometimes be a bit wonky).
- Before clicking ‘buy’, read customer reviews for descriptions, sizing guides, and photos to see how the items look like in real life.
- Check seller ratings (at the top right box of the product listing). You want to make sure that you’re buying from a legitimate seller who isn’t out to scam you. Head here for a breakdown of the seller ratings system.
- If you can’t be bothered to sift through thousands of listings, filter your search according to size, season, price or colour.
- Download the Taobao app (iPhone or Android): a simple way to browse the site when you’re on the go and keep track of new arrivals from your favourite sellers.
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