Taobao has emerged as one of the largest e-commerce platforms in China with over 800 million product listings and 500 million registered users. Sure enough with so many products available at budget prices, some would have caught your eye.
Unsure of how to purchase from Taobao?
Fret no more! We will be showing you a step-by-step tutorial on how you can shop online on Taobao!
For illustration purposes and in due to the recent haze conditions in Singapore, we decided to purchase an air purifier for the office.
1. Selecting the product
We came across this air purifier on Taobao priced at SGD 52.25, which is a reasonably decent price.
2. Assessing the seller
Before you purchase a product on Taobao, do remember to check the seller’s ratings (located on the right side bar of the product as per the screenshot above).
On Tmall, scroll down a little and look for this icon on the left side bar underneath the product photo to chat with the seller.
Remember to read the product description, customer reviews and check on the number of successful transactions by the seller to assess their trustworthiness.
3. Talking to your seller
An advantage of buying directly from Taobao is that they have a live chat function, Aliwangwang, which allows you to chat with the sellers. Should you have any enquiries and/or clarifications e.g. which size fits best, true colour of the product, packaging dimensions etc., you can make good use of this function. Their customer service is so apt in replying it is as though they are on the site 24/7.
For Taobao, you may be required to install a plugin as shown:
To make things easier for you, you may copy & paste these questions to your seller:
- 有免费退货吗？ – Enquiring about free return and exchange (if faulty)
- 它的实际重量是什么？ – What is the actual weight of the product?
- 它的包装尺寸是什么？- Dimensions of parcel after packaging
4. Billing information
Key in your address, name and mobile phone number for delivery, billing and contact purposes.
a. Taobao Global Direct Shipping
This option is recommended for a single product purchase. Only one payment (product cost + shipping fee) is required. Taobao will select a trusted parcel forwarding company on your behalf and will overlook the entire shipping process. (To be elaborated further below).
Sometimes option a. may not be available as your seller may not offer direct shipping. However, if available, this would usually be the cheapest rate of all, even if compared to our Singapore parcel forwarding agents.
b. Global Consolidate and Shipping (CLICK HERE FOR PART 2 OF OUR TUTORIAL: GLOBAL CONSOLIDATION & SHIPPING>>)
First payment: Product cost + Domestic shipping fee (to warehouse)
Second payment: International shipping fee (to destination). When the parcel has reached the warehouse in China, they will calculate the final shipping price and you will have to make the second payment.
Select this option if you are purchasing more than 1 item from Taobao. This option will usually take a longer time than Taobao Global Directing Shipping due to the handling procedures e.g. consolidation of all your items and repackaging them before shipping – which will help you save on your total shipping fees.
Here the rates and 2-payment process are similiar to using our Singapore parcel forwarding agents such as 65daigou, SG shop and others. However, the difference is that Option b. only offer air freight options, and not sea freight options, which is more expensive than our Singapore parcel forwarding agents.
c. Contact seller for price
This option allows you to negotiate with the seller. However, this option is usually unavailable as majority of the sellers only allow domestic shipping.
- 如果运来新加坡的话，你们运费是收多少？- Total shipping fees to Singapore
After chatting with the seller, we were told that they were not able to find any suitable couriers to ship directly to Singapore. Hence, we decided to opt for the Taobao Global Direct Shipping Service, which is offered by Taobao and the cheapest option (SGD 13.67).
For the Global Consolidate and Shipping option, parcel forwarding rates are as follows:
Should you decide to opt for Global Consolidate and Shipping, instructions can be found here>>
After submitting the order, payment has to be made within 3 days or it will automatically be cancelled. You may select your preferred payment method as shown below. Do note that an additional 3% charge is applicable should you decide to pay by credit card.
If possible, make your payment before 4pm (GMT +8) so sellers can send the goods to the courier on the same day. (Couriers in China usually collect parcels at 5pm)
7. Tracking the parcel
Logistics status of parcel will be shown on the Taobao website, or you can click here >>
Situation 2: If you have not received the goods, please take note of the payment countdown. You may wish to extend the payment countdown period or request for a refund (usually more troublesome).
*UPDATE** Due to multiple queries from readers.
Now here is the tricky part:
Our parcel showed that it had arrived at the China warehouse for a few days, but there were no further updates after that. We found out that what happens is that when the parcel reaches the China warehouse domestically, they will then switch to a different courier for it to be sent internationally.
During this switch, they usually will NOT update the customer with the new tracking number nor the new courier company. Hence if you wish too, you can Live Chat the original courier company in China and ask them for the new tracking number and new courier company name. Alternatively, you can just wait – it’s an automatic process for them to send the parcel to you.
In our case, we contacted our original courier company Zhong Tong on Live Chat, and gave them our old tracking number. They then gave us the new courier company name and new tracking number. In our case, it was Dpex. Hence, we put our new tracking number into the Dpex website and found our parcel.
The picture below shows the step-by-step tracking process of the parcel, as well as the new order number, shown on Dpex >>.
After receiving the parcel, please remember to log on to Taobao to acknowledge delivery. Taobao will pay the seller immediately.
Optional: You can also leave reviews on the seller’s page about their products or service.
Our air purifier was packaged nicely and received in good condition.
Shopping on Taobao is relatively easy if you get the hang of it. Trust us, once you get the hang of it, Taobao will always be the first option for you when online shopping. Alternatively, you can check out “Taobao Shipping Guide >>>” for other information.
Unable to read the Chinese characters? Get an agent to liaise in Mandarin on your behalf, or use Google Translate.
You can also engage agents such as 65Daigou and SGShop to help you with your Taobao shopping! Read more about it here >>>
For readers who’d like to find out more about Global Consolidate & Shipping, click here to read our Part Two article Step-by-Step Taobao Tutorial on Global Consolidation & Shipping! 🙂