How To Buy From Taobao: A Step-By-Step Shopping & Shipping Guide (2020)
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How To Buy From Taobao: A Step-By-Step Shopping & Shipping Guide (2020)

Ruth Lum
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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.

Rosa Diaz Brooklyn 99 Having Computer Problems
Source: Brooklyn 99 | Giphy

And sadly, there isn’t a Taobao English version for us jiak kantang (Hokkien: 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?

Seedly How to Buy From Taobao

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

How To Buy From Taobao Guide

How To Search For Taobao Product Keywords Guide

How To Ship From Taobao Guide

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.

Seedly How To Taobao Register For Account

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

Seedly How To Taobao Key In Details

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.

Seedly How To Taobao Search Items

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

Seedly How To Taobao Filter Your Search

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

Seedly How To Taobao Product Page

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.

Seedly How To Taobao Shopping Cart

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

Seedly How To Taobao Checkout Page

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).

Seedly How To Taobao Confirm Order

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).

Seedly How To Taobao Alipay Account

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.

Seedly How To Taobao Credit Card Details

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

Taobao Activewear Female Model
Source: 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

Taobao Men Fashion Jeans
Source: Taobao
Men's Clothing
For Men (add this to the back of your search term)
Short Sleeved短袖
Long Sleeved长袖
T-ShirtT恤
Casual Shirt休闲衣
Polo ShirtPOLO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

Taobao Female Model Korean Style Fashion
Source: 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-NeckV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

Taobao Party Supplies
Source: Taobao
Party Supplies
Alphabet LED LightsLED 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

Taobao Wood Furniture
Source: 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.

Cainiao Logo

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

Taobao International Shipping Options

These 4 delivery options are:

  1. “官方直送” (Direct shipping)
  2. “官方集运-空运” (Consolidated shipping via air freight)
  3. “官方集运-海运” (Consolidated shipping via sea freight)
  4. “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

Truck Delivery

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)RMB10.50RMB10.50
Maximum Weight Limit (kg)≤ 25kg≤ 30kg
Maximum Measurements (cm)Width: <80
Length & Height: <150
42x37x61

Option 2: Consolidated Shipping Via Air Freight

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 MalaysiaWest Malaysia
Delivery Method"宅配" (Home Delivery)"自提点" (Self Collection Point)
"宅配" (Home Delivery)
Initial Price
(first 0.5kg)
RMB26RMB22RMB29.50
Price (per subsequent 0.5kg)RMB11RMB10.50RMB14
Maximum Weight Limit (kg)25kg20kg25kg
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

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/ Volume0 - 30 kg0 - 0.5CBM0.5 - 1CBM1CBM and above
PriceRMB22 (first 1kg)
RMB7.40 (per subsequent kg; full price charged even if subsequent kg is not fully met)
RMB230RMB460 per CBMRMB460 per CBM
CriteriaConsolidated 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

Deliveryman

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!

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.

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…

About Ruth Lum
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