Everyday (淘宝网) Taobao

Everybody has either bought something or at least heard of Amazon, well almost everybody! If you have been to China then you will understand that this land of tea and martial arts knows no Amazon but only Alibaba!

While a lot is known about Amazon, Alibaba is relatively unknown outside of China. Alibaba is the Chinese E-commerce giant that provides B2B, B2C and C2C services on its various web portals. Following its stupendous success, in 2003, the Alibaba group founded the Taobao marketplace to provide an online platform to small businesses and online entrepreneurs in China.

The main idea of this site is to cater to all Chinese speaking regions of Asia. Thus, in the Chinese speaking regions of Hong Kong, Taiwan, Macau and Mainland China, Taobao is an immensely popular online shopping website just like Amazon. Taobao in Chinese means, “searching for treasure;” it is a very apt name for a shopping website with over 7 million sellers trading in a variety of products.

Today, there are 400 million active users of Taobao; around 320 million use the Taobao mobile app. It is no wonder that Taobao is one of the top 10 most visited online shopping sites in the world and is the name on every shopaholic’s lips.

While on Taobao you can find mostly unbranded goods, Alibaba has another retail site called Tmall where you can shop for branded stuff.

Taobao is the Amazon of China

Different Methods of Shipping from Taobao to Malaysia

One of the fastest growing customer base for Taobao is Malaysia. There are around 210,000 Taobao users in Malaysia.

To those new to Taobao and its presence in Malaysia, you must be wondering on how goods from china are transported to Malaysia. There are several modes of transport to ship your goods from the remote provinces of china to your living room in Malaysia. What is important is that your goods should reach you undamaged and in pristine condition. This is entirely dependent on the shipping method and the freight forwarders you use.

The two most important factors that determine the best method are:

  1. Transit time
  2. Freight charges.

The most common methods of shipping are:

Regular post

It is the cheapest method of shipping ideal for small parcels and light weight items; most often the weight limit is 2 Kilograms. It is most often the China Post or Hong Kong Post and takes 2-5 weeks to arrive. It is easy to track the shipment as long as the information is updated on time. Though it is cheap, the safety of your goods is not assured. There have been several instances of lost packages and it should be considered while you think of getting the goods using postal services.

Courier service

One of the most preferred and relatively safer methods of shipping is using couriers like DHL, FedEx and UPS. Here your consignment reaches you within a few days and almost all these courier companies have local offices in all parts of the globe. DHL is the preferred courier to Malaysia and other Southeast countries.

  • Advantages:
  1. It is so popular because each consignment comes with a tracking number which tells you exactly where your goods are at any point of time.
  2. The staff is trained to handle goods with care.
  3. And at your end you just have to sign and take delivery of the goods.
  • Drawbacks:
  1. Courier service is expensive
  2. The courier charges are based on weight and dimensions of an item. It can be disadvantageous sometimes because an object of large dimensions can be of lower Cushions.
  3. Sometimes additional fees are levied if the destination is in a remote area and not within city limits. This again is the purview of the courier company.

By Air

In case you have purchased something that is really heavy, then it makes no sense to spend on courier; the best option would be to air ship it. This is cheaper than using couriers. Nowadays due to security reasons all air freight is subject to tighter security controls. The transit time is not too bad; invariably you will receive your goods between 2- 10 days.

When you opt for air shipment it is your responsibility to handle all the customs clearance at your end. Unlike the courier service, the freight forwarders most often do not indulge in clearance. Ideally any parcel over 250 kg is best air shipped.

By Sea

If you have a wide variety of goods and in large number, the best method will be by sea. Remember certain items are not allowed as air freight. It is the cheapest mode of transport and is widely used by businesses which deal in large volumes.

Of course, the delivery time by sea is really long and can take up to 60 days in some cases. Similar to air freight you will have to handle the customs, the necessary documentation and transport of the goods to your destination. It is ideal for bulky shipments.

Another way of classifying the methods of International shipping to Malaysia from Taobao is:

• Taobao Global Direct Shipping

• Taobao Global Consolidation and shipping.

Taobao Global Direct Shipping:

Taobao Global Direct Shipping is a Taobao official forwarding service in Singapore and Malaysia areas. In this method, you have to check out all the items in your shopping cart at once and select the option “Taobao Direct Shipping.” Make payment in the preferred method and wait for the package to arrive at your destination.

Advantages of this method:

  • The biggest advantage of direct shipping is that it involves only one time payment. This includes the international shipping fee and other domestic charges. As a result you save time and money. 
  • No need to constantly monitor your goods. There is no additional headache of consolidating the items. 

Taobao Global Consolidation and Shipping:

Taobao Global Consolidation and Shipping which is more commonly known as Taobao Cargo is mainly for international buyers. It is available for buyers from Singapore, Malaysia, USA and Canada.

Best Shipping Method?

You should always keep in mind three factors before deciding the best shipping method for you.

1. Time taken: Ideally you would like your goods to reach you at the earliest possible, but this is dependent on the method of shipping used. Normally goods take 5 days to several weeks to reach you.

2. Price: It is a given fact that at higher price things get done faster and more efficiently, but is it worth the money? If the goods which you need are not urgent you can opt for a method which is slower and cheaper.

3. Customs: Certain countries tax the buyer when expensive shipping methods like couriers are used.

Therefore, choosing an ideal shipping method is very subjective and dependent on what your needs are and what items you want shipped.

The shipping method which meets the criteria is EMS or express mail service. This service is an intergovernmental organization between the various governments and postal sectors across the world for the transport of merchandise and documents.

Here are the reasons why this is the best shipping method:

  1. It is the cheapest method of shipping.
  2. It provides high discount rates; you can get almost up to 40% discount.
  3. You save money when you use EMS.
  4. It is fast and usually takes only 5-7 working days.
  5. It is safe and reliable too.
  6. There are several sensitive items like food, cosmetics, health related products or items containing sensitive words on the packaging which are normally rejected by other service providers but can be easily shipped by EMS.
  7. The documentation is fairly simple and easy and involves just filling a form by foreigners.
  8. No customs hassles because EMS handles that part and it will also help you ship back goods with issues; this service is absent in other means of shipping and courier services. The other carriers charge enormous fees to re-ship back goods and those that can’t be shipped are destroyed by customs.
  9. Since the postal network is huge and very well connected the delivery services will be accurate.
  10. You can track your goods in real time.
  11. In most cases using EMS if the delivery time is delayed due to the failure of the EMS system the postage is returned. But the delivery time may be delayed during public holidays and during the Chinese New Year time when the whole of China is practically closed down.

Choosing Your Freight Forwarder

It is no doubt fun to browse the Taobao website and select items of your choice, but the same can’t be said about using a freight forwarder. It is often confusing and frustrating. 

 Freight forwarder is the intermediary between your goods and their final destination. They normally handle all the necessary legalities involved with collection of your goods from the seller to international shipping. They are the link between trucks to the air freight or ocean freight. Therefore, it is important that you choose your freight forwarder with great care.

Two of the more preferred freight forwarders that are constantly monitored by Taobao itself are 4PX and PRouter. Taobao constantly keeps a check on the performance of these two freight forwarders. In case they fall below the accepted rating they are replaced.

How to Choose a Freight Forwarder?

Here are a few tips on choosing the right freight forwarder

Experience counts: International shipping is one of the toughest businesses around; it is crucial that your freight forwarder knows exactly how the system works. An experienced freight forwarder is adept at handling various situations like ports shutdown, rerouting of consignments, customs clearance, and warehouse problems and so on. An experienced company states its policies clearly with regard to customs and warehousing; it will ensure that your consignment reaches you at the earliest avoiding unnecessary customs and delays.

Network of agents and business partners: In the world of international shipping, all freight forwarders have their own set of agents in whichever country they ship to. It is important for you to know who the forwarders’ partners are in your region. The business partners and networking agents at your end should be equally reliable and efficient. Remember all freight forwarders do not ship to all parts of the world. You must find out who the networking agents are for your region, what is the customer feedback to the agent in your country before you finalize.

What services do the freight forwarders offer?: As you already know freight forwarders are responsible for the shipping and delivery of your goods from the seller to your address. But again, not all freight forwarders include trucking options or other transport options like rail; they are comfortable doing air and ocean shipping. Most often all freight forwarders of repute have a strong network that handles all the door trucking options. At this point we must mention that your forwarder must offer cargo insurance and shipment tracking services for your goods.

Check out customer feedback: The true picture of a business can be derived from its customers’ feedback. Check out the customer feedback and testimonials page on the website of the forwarder. You can learn from other customer’s good or bad experiences and decide if you want to stick to a particular freight forwarder.

Customer service: An important aspect of every business is the quality of customer service they provide to the customers. Tick mark the below in favor of a good customer response:

  • Do they respond immediately to your freight queries? The answer should be a strong positive. 
  • How knowledgeable are they and do they guide you amply regarding the various aspects of international shipping? All your queries with regards to service charges, handling fees, tracking, refund etc should be answered satisfactorily. 
  • Are they well versed in English and other major languages of the world? Language is an almost insurmountable barrier to all dealings in China. The Taobao site too is in Chinese and not very helpful for foreigners. Therefore it is paramount that the staff understands your requirements and acts accordingly. 
  • A good freight forwarder will have capable staff who can reassure the customer of their ability to handle their goods with care. 

Freight charges: Last but not least, the freight charges are the determining factor in any international shipping. But keep all the above factors in mind before considering price because remember quality and experience can cost more than normal.

To Consolidate Or Not?

To consolidate your purchase means to put all your purchases in into one big packet. As a result, you will have to deal with just one package containing several items instead of several packets of single items.

Often while shopping you might select goods which belong to different categories and by different sellers. 

These individual sellers send their goods separately. You need to consolidate because:

  • It is laborious to keep track of all the individual shipments.
  • It is far more expensive to ship small individual packages than one single big package because each package will incur handling fees, customs duties and delivery charges. When you total up, you will realize that you pay more for individual items than one consolidated shipment.

Advantages of Consolidation

When you combine all orders into one common package you will have to deal with only one tracking number.

  • Easier to keep track of your shipment
  • All goods still retain their original packing
  • Since it is a certified agent or a forwarder, all your goods are safe and protected.

Why Shop at Taobao?

Be it Google or any blog on online shopping sites, the only site making maximum news is Taobao. With each passing year it is gaining in prominence and has a steadily increasing clientele.

The reasons why you should look at Taobao for your latest shopping are:

  • Cheap: It is the cheapest online market for all products made in china. 
  • Multitude of products: There are around 7 million merchants on Taobao, so imagine the sheer number of goods available. 
  • Variety: You can buy right from your daily needs to exotic stuff in one place here. One can get all orient related décor articles and other souvenirs here at unbelievably low prices. 
  • No intermediary cost involved: Since it is a C2C platform you can buy from the factories directly; as a result, there is no other extra cost involved other than production. 

Is it Safe to Shop at Taobao?

All sites with https are safe because they use SSL a secure socket layer that encrypts all the details that you key in while you shop online. In the case of Taobao, the website is safe but the same can’t be said about all the sellers there. 

Therefore, as long as you choose a good seller you are in safe hands, but with a fraudulent one not only will you lose money but also a good deal of time will be spent on trying to retrieve it.

Do You Really need a Taobao Agent?

Yes if you are a foreigner. A Taobao agent is a middleman between the buyer and seller; an agent’s main job is to procure the goods and help you with payment and shipping. An agent renders this service for a nominal fee.

First and foremost you must know that the Taobao site is in Chinese. So unless you are well versed in reading Chinese you will be lost. You need the help of someone who can understand your needs and identify goods that you are looking for in the ocean of Taobao. 

A reliable agent can identify fraudulent seller and warn you. In case of disputes the agent can put your case forward and interact with the seller. 

An agent will also help an international buyer overcome: 

  • The barrier of communication 
  • The uncertainty of international shipping 
  • The safety of online payment.  

Convenient and hassle free shopping: Most often the online vendors have little or no knowledge of English; as a result, it is a herculean task to make them understand your exact requirements. But a Taobao agent can help you on this front. This agent can buy goods according to your request and some of them offer additional services like a reliable customer service.

Shipping: When you bypass an agent then you also have to think of means of shipping your goods to your place of residence because most of the sellers on Taobao do not deliver goods outside China. Those who can ship charge phenomenal shipping rates. But when you go through an agent you are eligible to discounts and also you are not under pressure to identify a reliable freight forwarder. You need not constantly track your shipment. And in case of any customs clearance you need not go in person to resolve it; your agent will handle it.

Payment: The best method of payment especially for international buyers is PayPal; it is one of the safest and most reliable means of payment. But several Chinese vendors do not accept PayPal, Western union, moneygram or any kind of bank transfer; they only trust Alipay. But with an agent you can overcome this hurdle as they accept all the above stated methods of payment.

As is common knowledge there are no great customer protection laws in China, as a result when you deal directly you are at the mercy of the vendor and the system. But with a reliable and efficient agent to help you can overcome the major barriers.

Do You Really need a Taobao Agent?

For those who want to take the safe path and use the services of a Taobao Agent, here are a few tips to choose a reliable and safe agent.

  1. Age of the agency: It is an industry norm that any business or agency that has been there for long will know all the tricks of the trade and will have the entire infrastructure for the smooth functioning of the business. Therefore, verify the age of the agency; any one with more than three years’ experience is a good bet. They most certainly will have the expertise and necessary systems in place to handle packaging and delivery of goods. 
  2. Service fee: There is no standard service fee levied by these agencies; each one has a different fee structure. Some charge around 8% of the cost of the goods in addition to the delivery charge, while others charge 10%. It is ideal to go for the lower service charge because these agencies may have more number of clients and hence greater experience. 
  3. Customer service: For all businesses customer service is the key to their success, more so when you are dealing with customers who do not speak the local language. Each agent has different operating hours; some have a 24/7 helpline while there are others with only 6-8 hours and that too in tune with Beijing time. Therefore, look for agencies that have: 
  • 24/7 helpline 
  • Staff that are proficient in English 
  • Agencies that respond to email within 24 hours preferably or at least 48 hours maximum. 
  • Should be available over Skype/Google hangouts/ email and online chat. 
  • Be knowledgeable and responsible 
  • Have the right attitude to face criticism, understand the customer’s problem and try to solve in amicable manner.
  • Agent’s website should have sufficient details of the team of representatives and testimonials about their performance and legality of their agency. 
  1. Acceptance of PayPal and other methods of payment: Most of the international customers rely on PayPal for all their online transactions because it is safe and reliable. Hence your agent too should be able to accept PayPal. A nominal service charge or transaction fee of 4% is charged. 
  2. Services which include choosing of goods on the site: Despite Google translate it has been the experience of customers to feel inadequate and frustrated by the website because of the lack of Chinese knowledge. Many agencies offer to choose items according to your requirement at no additional charge. 
  3. Goods return policy: There have been several instances where customers have received damaged goods. It is a hassle to return the goods to the vendor and get a replacement or a refund. But the process is relatively easier when an agent is involved. Therefore, read the return policy of the agent because each agent has his own policy; some charge service fee, while others charge shipping charges which can be exorbitant. 
  4. Provides tracking number: A good experienced agent understands your anxiety and your need to know the status of your goods, therefore he/she always provides a tracking number and a website URL. 

Questions to Ask Your Agent?

Before engaging the services of an agent here are a list of questions that your agent needs to answer.

  1. What happens if your goods are held in customs? Most agencies have a broker who pays all the necessary duties and clears the parcel. These additional charges can be paid on receiving the parcel. So ask if your agent does clearance. 
  2. Will the agent provide Quality Control pictures? Once you make the payment the agent buys your goods and receives their delivery in 3-5 days. At this stage you need to check if the condition of your goods is fine without any damage and that you are getting the right product. Some agents do this for free while others charge a fee. 
  3. Where are the goods stored? Do they have a warehouse? Before shipping out the goods they need to be stored in some place till all the formalities of international shipping are completed. Hence it is essential to find out if the agent has a certified warehouse or storage area to keep your items safe from theft and elements of nature. 
  4. How long can the items be stored with the agent? If you have several parcels from various vendors then you will receive each parcel at a different time. Therefore it is crucial to know if the agent provides free storage and if yes for how long. An ideal time frame will be 30 days. 
  5. What kind of exchange rate do they use? The market is very volatile and hence the rates keep changing. It is always a good idea to find out the exchange rate policy of the agent because some agents have a fixed rate while others use real time exchange rate. 
  6. Will your agent buy restricted items, branded goods, bulky and heavy items and virtual goods? Some agents are very particular about the kind of items they deal with; therefore clarify this point at the onset. 
  7. Do they have a pick only option: Some customers might like to do their own shopping and payment but might need help with shipping. So find out if they have a pick only option where you can pick up your package from the local office of the agent. 
  8. Does their website support multiple languages? The very purpose you are choosing an agent is to simplify the entire process of shopping. Hence, ensure that the agent’s website is in English or your local language and there is no ambiguity whatsoever. The website should not confuse you more because of poor English. 
  9. What is the mode of payment? Do they accept PayPal or western Union or credit cards like master and visa? To find out what works for you is more a matter of trial and error. Therefore choose an agent who has several payment methods, so you can experiment and determine what suits you best. 
  10. Do they offer reweigh facilities? Several frauds are committed quoting false weights for goods purchased. In case you are in doubt that the items shipped are not weighed properly, your agent must have the feature to reweigh the same. This way you can avoid any fraudulent charges. 
  11. Do they provide online shipping calculators? This is a great way of knowing if the item you intend to purchase is worth the cost, because at times the additional charges on an item far exceed the cost of the original item. With an online calculator you can check the final costs based on the weight, the method of shipping and the customs charges in your country. 

Questions to Ask Yourself

  1. Is the website easy to navigate? Check out the website to see if you can follow the instructions for using the website properly. In case the instructions are spotty this agent is not for you.
  2. Is the international shipping fee reasonable? You should do research and identify an agent who can offer you the best and most reasonable shipping fee. From the website it is easy to get a rough estimate of the shipping costs to your destination. Compare the result with other players in the field and settle for one who is affordable and reliable.

Taobao Agent - Precautions

It always pays to be cautious when you deal with unknown agencies. Yes, the agent you picked up might have stellar testimonials and good customer feedback; all the same it is advisable that you recheck the agent’s terms and conditions. 

Look out for hidden charges and fees especially with agents who claim to provide services at suspiciously low rates.

A List of Fees that Agents Normally Charge

  1. Item fee: The actual cost of the item. 
  2. Domestic fee: This does vary from agent to agent based on the size, weight of the item and the shipping fee from the seller to the agent. Remember shipping is cheap in China, so the price should be in tune with the industry prices. It shouldn’t cost more than 10-20 Yuan. Some sellers offer shipping, therefore notify your agent and remove this heading. Make note that if you have ordered several products from the same seller, then the domestic fee is less. 
  3. Service charge: It is the agent’s fees for rendering the service. Invariably it is a percentage of the total items and domestic shipping put together. It is often between 5-10%. In case you use the services of the agent regularly you can avail some discount on the service fee. 
  4. International delivery fee: This is based on the weight of the purchase, the shipping method used (EMS, DHL, Air Freight or Sea Freight) and the final destination. 
  5. Handling charges: Since most of the transactions take place via PayPal around 4% transaction fees and an additional 0.3% will be charged. 
  6. Storage fee: Not applied by all agents, but those who do will charge a nominal price to keep your goods till they are ready to be shipped. But most often almost all agents provide anything between 60-90 days of free storage time. 
  7. Customs clearance: This fee is subject to the country’s customs policies and will vary. Your agent can advise you on various methods to reduce the customs duties on your purchases. 
  8. Insurance fee: It is often a percentage of the entire cost of the deal which includes item price, shipping price, handling fees. It is optional and you can decide if you want your goods to be insured or not.

Compare the handling fees, shipping fees and service charge between various agents before choosing the most suited agent.  

How to Pay in Taobao?

Like already stated probably the best way to shop in Taobao would be through an agent. Most of the agents accept PayPal, Visa, MasterCard and other credit and debit cards.

In case you have bought the stuff directly from Taobao and want to do the payment, you will need to open a local account in any Chinese bank. Another option is to open Alipay account; it can be easily recharged online.

Alipay and its Advantages:

Alipay is a third party online payment platform that is widely used for all transactions; it is similar to PayPal. Why it is so popular is because of the escrow service where you can release funds only if you are satisfied by the product.

The one thing to keep in mind while operating the Alipay account is that there are two passwords for Alipay: 

  • your account password through which you sign in 
  • And your payment password which you need to key in to authenticate any payment. 

If you key in wrong you will get locked out of your Alipay account.

Using Visa /Master/JCB card

You can use your individual Visa or master card to pay for your purchase but a processing fee of 3% will be charged. No business credit cards are accepted.

PayPal and its Advantages

Most foreigners prefer PayPal for all online transactions because it is one of the most trusted and safe payment platforms online. In addition to that PayPal has a Buyer Protection Policy where in case of a dispute you can request for refund of your funds within 180 days from the date of purchase. Other payment platforms have this policy but none as effective as PayPal. In a country like China where the customer rights are not the top priority it pays to be covered and protected by such policies.

Well, there are no free lunches and that is the reason the transaction fee levied on PayPal is by far the highest in the market. But you can be at peace that all your details are safe and secure.

The best method of payment would be to first identify a safe and reliable agent and then change to other modes likes Western Union or bank transfer. In this way, you can be safe also and save money.

Additional Tips

Know How to Choose Good Sellers

Taobao is replete with small first timers and newbies and fraudulent sellers. It is a herculean task to sift through the massive database and identify the few reliable, trusted and good sellers. There are solo entrepreneurs, wholesalers and others who sell direct from factory. There are a few risks involved when shopping on Taobao and therefore the need to identify a reputable seller. 

The risks of Shopping on Taobao

  • The end product might look different from what you selected on the website 
  • The products are subject to damage because most of the local couriers are untrained labor with little knowledge on how to handle the products. 

Taobao’s rating system

To help customers identify good sellers Taobao has in place a rating system to evaluate the performance of each seller. People rate based on the following criteria:

  • Do the final product and the picture on the website match? 
  • What kind of customer service does the seller provide? 
  • How many people have bought from the store? 
  • How is the customer feedback? 

A positive rating gives the seller one point and a neutral one doesn’t give any points. The negative rating takes away the points. Once these points consolidate they are transformed into icons like crowns, diamonds and red hearts; the repute of a seller is marked by these icons. The Crown icon means the highest reputation and the red heart is the least. A golden crown is the ultimate proof of one’s credibility. You can see these icons on the seller’s homepage. A seller’s good reputation is a result of several successful transactions.

Other Points to note in a good seller are:

  1. Logistics and feedback: On the seller’s page next to words like “Service” or “Logistics” there are numbers. These numbers are the points received by the seller based on customer feedback. On a scale of 1 to 5 any seller who manages a 4 is a good and reliable seller. 
  2. Age of the store: Only those sellers who have managed to satisfy their customers can stay in the race. Therefore check the age of the store, to know how long the store has been in business. 

Sometimes people post negative remarks more eagerly than positive feedback. Therefore, try to read through all the customer feedback before reaching any conclusion about the seller. There will be reviews which are unbiased and neutral too. Remember, the majority of sellers are hardworking people with little or no sales skills. Hence, always try to resolve an issue amicably before posting a review on the site which will damage their future prospects.

Once you identify the seller ensure that the item you desire is in stock. There is very little scope for bargain here. A prudent way to purchase would be to compare the price offered by two sellers and buy the best one.

Avoid Overpayment by Checking Daily

By checking your Alipay control account on a daily basis you can ensure that you never over pay which otherwise is so easy. This is also a good practice to prevent any misappropriation of your account and its funds by hackers.

In Alipay control you can get all the information about all your latest transactions with details about the seller, the product, and the date of purchase. You can also see the status of your present order.

Google Translate is Your Best Friend

Taobao site is in Chinese, so those who can’t read a word of the language will be confounded, frustrated and dejected. You need a tool that can translate the Chinese to English; this will save time and also making shopping enjoyable.

Always use Google Chrome web browsers for viewing Taobao. The Google chrome has an automatic translation function called Google translate which can translate content in any language to English. It is a true friend in deed because it is by your side when you are in need trying to make sense of the Taobao website which uses only Mandarin.

Use the Live Chat Function

Sometimes you might want to interact with the seller directly and ask a few questions. It is a good idea to ask questions and clarify doubts always. There is a live chat function called the Ali Wangwang Chat where you can ask your seller all the queries that you have.

To use this program you will have to download the application from Taobao either by scanning the QR code or by clicking on the link. You need to select the platform whether Mac or windows to which you want the app downloaded. Next, login with your Taobao username and password. You can identify the chat box with the water drop man icon. If the icon is blue and bouncing it means the seller is online.

Now, you are all set to chat with the seller of your choice. During the chat ask the seller the following questions?

  • Is the item in stock? If no when is it likely to be available. 
  • What is the exact color of the product? Often the colors on the screen are misguiding and you end up buying products with colors that you didn’t ask for. Hence it is better to clarify the color of the product. 
  • Ask if the seller has a warranty policy especially on electronics. 
  • Ask the weight of the product. 

Make sure that you use plain simple English and keep to short sentences because most of the sellers have no knowledge of English and those who do it is rudimentary.

Use Taobao's Image Search Option

You don’t need to know the name of the product you are searching for, you can just click the picture of the product and upload the image on the Taobao search bar. Taobao will line up all the same and similar objects for you to choose from. You can either upload the actual photo or the URL of the photo. You can indicate the category under which the product has to be searched.

Using Taobao’s search image option simplifies online shopping tremendously. Make a note that this feature works only on the original site and not on the international site. Also note that this feature works only for clothing, women’s handbags and shoes.

A few reminders while shopping on Taobao

  1. Always use Google Chrome as your web browser because Safari and IE do not translate the page from mandarin to English. 
  2. Choose to search products ranging from higher to lower price or vice versa. This way you can compare the varying price offered by different sellers for the same product. 
  3. Do not forget to check the height and weight and size that customers provide on their feedback. This is a great guide for those who are buying clothes. 
  4. Check out items that have corresponding photos only. This will save you time spent on aimless searching and also give an idea of how the final product looks. 

With these few reminders you are all set to venture into the Taobao land of endless shopping!

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