facebookTaobao Singapore Shopping & Shipping: A Step-by Step Guide



Taobao Singapore Shopping & Shipping_ A Step-by Step Guide

Taobao Singapore Shopping & Shipping: A Step-by Step Guide

profileHui Juan Neo

When it comes to online shopping, you must have heard of Taobao, right?

If you’ve never heard of Taobao, it’s a mega marketplace that literally sells everything you can think of.

Source: Giphy

While prepping for your home renovation, shopping for furniture and house fixtures will be the next thing to do.

Unfortunately, there is no Taobao English catered to locals, and I know it can be overwhelming.

But no worries, I’ve got you covered on the basics, and even if you are jiak kantang (Hokkien: English-speaking), you will be fine.

TL;DR: A Step-By-Step Taobao Shopping & Shipping Guide

As with any e-commerce platform like Shopee and Lazada, the steps to buy and search are similar.

The true difficulty sets in when you need to pick a shipping method and sometimes, a third-party courier.

Click here to jump:

How to Buy From Taobao

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 may look a little off since the translation is ad verbatim, but it is not too bad.

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

You will see “亲, 请登录 / 免费注册”  which means “Dear, Please Login / Register for Free“, in the top left corner.

Step 1: Register a Taobao Account

Select “免费注册” if you do not have an account.

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

Just follow the instructions in English. Ensure that the country and phone number you are using to register is Singapore and a registered local number.

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

Once you’ve set up your account, you can start shopping!

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 in Chinese into the white search bar located at the top of the Taobao home page.

It will always be more effective to type in Chinese as the list of products displayed does differ based on keyword searches. Don’t fret, just use Google Translate on your Windows Search Bar to help you with this.

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

You can refer to the table below for a list of commonly-sourced items and their terms.

Shirt / Blouse
Short-sleeved shirt
Long-sleeved shirt
Sleeveless shirt
Casual shirt
Round Neck
Long skirt
Short skirt
Midi skirt
Long pants
Short pants
Coat / Jacket
Format Coat / Jacket
White shoes
Sports shoes
Basketball shoes
Football shoes
Leather shoes
Heeled Shoes ((Low/ Medium/ High)
跟鞋 (低/ 中/ 高)
Clothes hanger
Decorative items


Kitchen cutleries
Bowl and plate

Suit or Formal Pants
Suit or Formal Jacket

The currencies reflected next to your search results are in Chinese RenMinBi (RMB), but once you’ve clicked in, most of the time it will automatically be converted to Singapore Dollar (SGD).

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

Here you have a couple of things to look out for:

  • “宝贝详情” (Product details) for more information about the product. You will be able to see the ratings.
  • “评论” (Reviews) where buyers leave ratings, and 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


Always, always, always read the reviews under “评论”. If you’ve been using the site in Chinese, you can switch on your Translator and the reviews will be reflected in English.

Step 3: Cart Out on Taobao

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.

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

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.

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).

Step 4: Taobao 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).

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

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

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How to Ship From Taobao: A Step-by-Step Shipping 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.

You would have noticed that there are six delivery options:

  1. 官方直邮 – 海运 – Direct shipping via sea freight
  2. 官方集运-经济海运 – Consolidated shipping via sea freight
  3. 官方集运-标准空运 – Consolidated shipping via air freight
  4. 官方直邮-空运 – Direct shipping via air freight
  5. 自行联系卖家发货 – Contact the seller personally to arrange for shipping

So… which one should you choose?

Well, it depends on what you are shipping.

Shipping by air is the easiest and fastest way to get most items shipped to you, but if you’re buying bulky items like furniture, you can opt for consolidated shipping by sea.

Choose the fifth option if you are using a Taobao agent. The agent will handle negotiations with the seller on your behalf.

Pro-tip: Some products are not allowed on air freights, hence “官方集运 – 海运” (Consolidated Sea Freight) will be selected by default.

When you try to select “官方集运 – 标准空运” (Consolidated Air Freight) instead, you’ll notice that your cart value will drop – that’s because those prohibited items will not go through payment.

When that happens, you can pay in two separate batches:

  1. Pay for those items that qualify for Consolidated Air Freight first
  2. Come back again to pay for items that require Consolidated Sea Freight.

Shipping MethodsShipping paymentWeight, Dimensions, Volume Estimated Days To ArriveSuitable ForCost
官方直邮-空运 - Direct shipping via air freightAll your items will be sent to Taobao’s warehouse in China to be registered, and then immediately sent to you directly as individual packages. You’ll pay for the shipping fee together with the item.Weight: ≤30kg
Width: <100cm
Length & Height: <160cm
8 to 12 business daysSingle purchases which are small or light, or if you need something immediatelyFirst 0.5kg: 20RMB
Subsequent 0.5kg: 17RMB
官方集运-空运 - Consolidated shipping via air freightAll your items will be sent to Taobao’s warehouse in China to be registered, consolidated and repacked for optimal shipping, and then sent to you via air freight. You’ll only know the shipping fee after the items arrive at the Taobao warehouse.Weight: ≤30kg
Width: <100cm
Length & Height: <160cm
5 to 7 business daysMultiple purchases which you need as soon as possibleFirst 0.5kg: 20RMB
Subsequent 0.5kg: 20RMB
官方集运-快捷空运 - Consolidated express shipping via air freight5 to 7 business daysNo available information; may vary based on items purchased
官方集运-经济海运 - Consolidated shipping via sea freight (Small package)

*Measured by Cubic Metre (CBM)
All your items will be sent to Taobao’s warehouse in China to be registered, consolidated and repacked for optimal shipping, and then sent to you via sea freight. You’ll only know the shipping fee after the items arrive at the Taobao warehouse.Weight: ≤30kg
Dimensions: ≤180cm
Volume: ≤0.5CBM*
15 to 30 business daysMedium to Heavy-duty purchases (lights, mirrors etc.); multiple purchases which you can afford to wait for≤1kg: 22 RMB per order
>1-≤10kg: 12 RMB/kg
>10-≤30kg: 10 RMB/kg
官方集运-经济海运 - Consolidated shipping via sea freight (Large package)

*Measured by Cubic Metre (CBM)
Weight: 30kg and 500kg
Dimensions: 180cm and 500cm
Volume: >0.5CBM*
15 to 30 business daysHeavy-duty purchases (furniture, TV console, tables etc.); multiple purchases which you can afford to wait for≤0.5CBM: 280 RMB per order
>0.5CBM: 560 RMB/CBM

If the volume exceeds 0.5CBM and is less than 0.01CBM, cost will be calculated from 0.01CBM.
自行联系卖家发货 -Contact seller personally to arrange for shippingYou have to negotiate with the seller directly for them to ship directly to Singapore. This option is troublesome and you need to converse fluently in Mandarin. There are some sellers who will refuse to personally ship overseas.VaryVarySensitive or personalised items which require constant communication with the shop representative or sellerVary

Consolidate Shipping to Save More

Both “官方集运 – 空运” (Consolidated Shipping – Air Freight) and “官方集运 – 海运” (Consolidated Shipping – Sea Freight) are the best methods because it’s more convenient to consolidate everything into one package for optimal shipping. Consolidated shipping is also slightly cheaper than direct shipping.

Non-Taobao Shipping Partners

Besides Taobao’s designated partner Cainiao, you can actually choose a variety of shipping options, provided the shipping partner has a Chinese warehouse address.

I’ve personally used Ezship by Ezbuy to ship my Taobao items before.

The price difference will be based on the weight and the number of items, so you can always do a direct price comparison by entering a different address.

What you need to do is change your shipping address to your desired shipping partner’s Chinese warehouse address instead of your home address.

By doing this, you should:

  • See the first shipping cost you need to pay for shipping the items to the warehouse;
  • Note that a second shipping cost will be incurred when your items are dispatched and are on their way to Singapore;
  • Not see the various shipping options above because the delivery is within China.

Enough said, these are the other shipping partners you may want to explore:

Non-Taobao Shipping ProviderWarehouse Address
EzShip by EzBuy浙江嘉兴秀洲区, 浙江省-嘉兴市秀洲区-王店镇梅秀路399号1号车间3楼 转
DJ Cargo广州市白云区喜禾新科,下村麦崧头东街4号1楼

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Are There GST Charges And Are There Any Items You Can’t Buy From Taobao?

Shipping is still a problem for some Taobao customers especially bulky items.

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 Goods and Services Tax (GST) charges, and 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 (e.g., bamboo products, instant noodles)
  • Items exceeding the size or weight restrictions
  • Liquid, paste, and powdered items (like cosmetics)

So take note before buying!

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What is a Taobao Agent?

Taobao agents, also known as third-party agents, serve as intermediaries to assist customers outside of China in communicating with Taobao vendors.

They facilitate payment, coordinate shipping, and can act as liaisons between buyers and sellers. In case direct communication with the seller is required, these agents can assist.

For significant purchases, some agents offer the additional service of inspecting products before forwarding them to Singapore. Also, they can help you with consolidating multiple items in China before shipping the entire package to Singapore.

Some notable agents include Ezbuy, Oops, SGShop, and Peeka! However, it’s important to note that these agents may significantly increase the overall cost of your purchase due to added fees, elevated shipping costs, and currency conversion to SGD.

So, if you can make the purchase yourself, why not skip this?

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How to Refund Taobao Purchases?

I hate breaking it to you, but refunding Taobao items can be a little… daunting.

This is because most sellers (or at least those that I’ve purchased from) require you to pay for your own shipping so that the items are sent back to China.

This leaves us to conclude that returning an item is pretty much out of the question because of the additional delivery time, distance, and expensive shipping fees.

However, if you did receive 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.

It’s essential to note that this return feature is currently applicable only to products labeled ‘本地退’ (Local return) with a 7-day return period.

How To Return Items

As previously mentioned, the item must bear the label ‘本地退’ (Local return) for the return and refund process to be applicable.

Here’s a step-by-step guide:

Step 1: Navigate to your Order page and locate the product you wish to return.

Then, click on ‘退换’ (Return) to initiate the return process. You’ll need to choose a reason for the return, including options like sizing issues, product quality concerns, or pricing concerns (if you find the product too expensive upon receiving it).

Step 2: Select a pickup time slot, pack the item in its original packaging along with the tag, and affix the provided code on the parcel.

Step 3: Await confirmation of the refund after the returned product undergoes inspection at the warehouse.

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.

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Taobao FAQs

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

Can Singaporeans Buy From Taobao?

Yes, you can!

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

Or go through a third party like Ezbuy.

If you choose Ezbuy, you will be able to skip the whole translation situation as their interface is in English. You can use Ezbuy as a freight service, which helps you liaise directly with the seller and arrange to ship for you, or you shop on the Ezbuy app or website, which lists items from Taobao sellers, but at a higher price.

You can also try Lazada’s Taobao collection, but your choices will be limited to whatever is curated. You might also end up paying higher prices due to the lack of competition.

Will GST increment make shipping more expensive?

With the Budget 2022 announcement on GST increment and inflation, the shipping fee will increase over time.

We have noticed that the shipping fee for sea freight has increased slightly from 7.5RMB per subsequent kg to 12RMB.

Is It Safe To Buy From Taobao?

Considering that most things we use in our daily lives 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 that 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 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…

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How To Save On Taobao?

If you want to avoid currency conversion fees, you can use a multicurrency card like Revolut or YouTrip.

If you have not owned a credit card for paying bills, consider getting one.

The best cashback credit cards in 2022 are available to help you save some money from your shopping spree.

If you’re into air miles, cash rebates, or other rewards, some are designed for big-ticket items.

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About Hui Juan Neo
A savvy shopper and foodie at heart, I'm always on a lookout for discounts and deals to snag the best bargains.
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