In today’s article, we are going to be your Master and share with you 7 Taobao shopping tips and hacks. You can call me Shifu now. Teacher at least? Okay, fine.
As this article will be very comprehensive, you may want to refer to the hyperlink in the list below.
For those who are absolutely new to Taobao, keep calm and read on. You will be soon our new Taobao Guru!
DA BAO? No, ain’t no time for steam buns here.
To those new to Taobao, it’s the largest online marketplace in China. With over 8 million vendors and billions of products, Taobao is commonly referred to as the “Chinese Ebay”. It’s the most important online portal where most people in China buy their stuff on the internet. The difference about Ebay is, that we do not find auctions, but fix prices for all these items.
And now, you can find almost anything, from fashion apparel, home furnitures, to SAF gears and uniforms.
Yes, literally Singapore Armed Forces issued gears and uniforms. *Waving goodbye to Beach Road Army Market~~.
Two simple reasons.
1. Cheap, notoriously cheap to be exact.
Then your next question will be, “Why so cheap?”
Well, here’s your answer:
- China is the world’s factory
- Cheap labor and high competition make products very cheap
- Taobao is targeting thrifty Chinese citizens
- More than 80% Chinese online buyers go shopping every day
- Free access to open a shop on Taobao makes numerous individuals all around China become Taobao sellers
- They compete for sales even more than real shops because one Taobao search can show you all the prices from up to down
- To attract business, they have to put their item price to the lowest possible level.
2. Spending your weekend at Bugis Street or Orchard Road is a terrible idea.
Your free time shouldn’t be about fighting crowds to buy stuff. It should be about enjoying the stuff you buy. So start shopping while you’re still in the office on Monday, have your items delivered to you by Thursday, and start enjoying it by the weekend. (My boss will kill me if he read this)
Cheap doesn’t mean bad quality.
If you have shopping experience on Taobao, we are sure that you will get many unbelievable pleasant surprises. However, as applied to all commerce in the world, you should always be cautious. Continue reading and we will show you how.
For those who can’t read Chinese, bad news for you. Taobao’s navigation, item listing, overall user interface, user previews are all in Chinese.
On a brighter side, meet your new Mandarin teacher, Google Translator.
For example, you can type “women’s shoes” in your language (English), and Google Translate will give you the translation in Chinese. Please see the screenshot below (with the translation process circled in black).
After the translation, just select and copy the translation and put into Taobao search bar.
Remember, Google Translate works both ways.
You can translate from your native language to Chinese, and vice versa. In case you don’t understand the Chinese texts, you can always copy the texts to Google Translate and have them translated to your native language.
Good news is that some sellers understand that there’s a market outside of China. These sellers will include English keywords on their listings so, when you search for international brands like “Bikini” or “Flora dress”, you will get some results from the search engine.
When my colleague told me about this feature, being a Singaporean my first reaction was “Confirm anot?”
After then, I was like “WHAT SORCERY IS THIS?”.
Yes, coolest thing ever and you have to try it!
All you have to do is upload a photo of an item you’re looking for, and Taobao will list items that look similar. No more wasting time trying Google Translate phrases and whatnot.
Taobao Hack #3 – Filter Search Results
Taobao has thousands of listings, so make your life a little easier by filtering search results according to the characteristics you desire. For example, let’s consider a search link for a woman’s dress on Taobao.
Click here and you will see the search results page.
Under the search bar (marked with blue rectangle) we see a lot of useful filters. It is sorted by categories and marked with a red rectangle on our screenshot. All filters are shown in Chinese.
To determine the function of each filter on the search page use the translator plug-in for your browser. You may find it in your browser settings or app-store for your browser. If you are using a Google Chrome browser, you may use the built-in Google Translator application.
After the translation of the page, we will see something like below.
Red rectangle marks special filters on this category of goods. Here we can choose the filters in the following categories: “Brand” (sort by brand), “Clothing style details” (sort by item details), “Optional hot” (sort by additional details), “Women” (searching by generalized name of the desired clothing), “Filter criteria” (filtering by size, type of sewing, etc). This list of categories of filters belongs to a particular category of goods “women’s dresses”. In other categories of goods the list of filters will be different and adapted to the product category you search.
Blue rectangle marks the category filter – “You’re looking for“. There are some tags that allow you to search the same item in other similar categories. Just click the tag you’ve preferred.
Green rectangle marks the general filter list. It contains: “Comprehensive sorting“, “Popularity“, “Sales“, etc. This menu is universal for all categories of products. It allows you to sort the displayed list of items accordingly the proposed criterion (popular products, quantity of sales, price of the goods) and in the order you wish (from highest to lowest, and vice versa). Let’s learn the details:
Comprehensive sorting – sorts the searching results following all of the parameters at the same time and we have the optimal average result.
Popularity – sorts results according to the quantity of item pages views.
Sales – sorts results according to the quantity of item sales.
Credit – sorts results according to the reputation of the seller: from high to low.
Price – allows you to choose the way of item sorting according its price.
In the bottom row you may see the filter options such as “Free Shipping”, “Gift return shipping insurance”, “Cash on Delivery”, “New Products” “More”, “money bay”, “merger seller”, “Delivery to”. Unfortunately, these options doesn’t useful for shopping outside China.
The most foolproof way to find the cheapest price is to sort by Price (in ascending order). But keep in mind that things are not that simple. Oftentimes, the listed price is not the real price for the displayed item. A few ‘dirty’ sellers will break an item into several parts, and list only the cheapest part to represent the whole item. For example, they will put the image of an iPad, but list the price of iPad’s data cable to lure you to click the item.
In other scenario, the listed price is for the cheaper version or smaller size item. For example: the listed price is for size S, but if you choose size L, the price will go up.
In other words, you cannot rely on the listed price alone. You need additional indicators. Usually I will recommend using 2 additional indicators. The first one is to check how many the items are sold in the last 30 days (Sales); and the second one is Seller’s Reputation.
If the item is cheap but nobody buys the item, beware. It doesn’t mean the seller is not honest, but there are several reasons:
- Item is out of stock
- Price is not the real price for the item
- It’s a new arrival for the seller
Whatever the reason is, it’s a safer bet to choose listings that have been sold several times. And as always, after you click, please pay attention to the Options. Make sure again the price is really the price for the item you are looking for.
Let’s take an example here. In the picture below there are 3 listings for the same shoes. Two of them have Recent Sales of 0, and other two have recent sales. In this case, we advise you to choose the one with 13 transactions.
However, if you want to buy size 35 or 36, the price jumps to 144 and 134. Magic isn’t it?
So, it’s very important to pay attention to the options. If you don’t understand what the options are about, don’t worry. You can always consult your Mandarin teacher, Google Translator to translate the texts for you!
On the item detail page, you can also check the Seller’s Reputation rating, which is on the right column.
Every seller on Taobao has a Reputation rating, which takes into account their customer feedback and transactions made on Taobao. These ratings consist of four levels, from the lowest to the highest:
- Blue Crown
- Gold Crown
Each level is broken further into 5 grades: 1 to 5. So, the lowest one is 1 Heart and the highest one is 5 Gold Crown. Sellers with reputation of 5 Hearts is higher than 4 Hearts; but 1 Diamond is higher than 5 Hearts, and so on.
Based on our experience, sellers with at least 1 Diamond is quite reliable, but if you make an expensive purchase, it’s advised to find sellers with at least 5 Diamonds. Since it’s not easy to achieve that level, it’s safe to assume they will try hard to protect their reputation. In the example above, the Seller’s Reputation is 4 Blue Crown.
In most online shopping sites, Customer’s Feedback and Reviews are a great source of reference before one makes a purchasing decision. On the same item detail page, you can find comments by previous customers who purchased their products.
Some comments come with pictures. Check and see so you can get a better idea of how the item fits. Spend some time to analyze the comments. This gives you a grand idea of whether the seller is trust-able or not, before making a purchase.
In summary of this long-winded section, always use other indicators such as recent Sales, Seller’s Reputation and Feedback Comments in making decision of your purchase.
There are 3 types of shoppers who enjoy purchasing branded goods
1. Shoppers who buy authentic goods from official stores, we call them the ‘Atas’
2. Shoppers who buy authentic goods but at a cheaper price, usually goods from alternative websites
3. Shoppers who buy replicas, but still, want them to look as genuine as possible
If you fall into the third category, Taobao will be your shopping heaven!
However, if you fall into the first and the second category, please take note. Taobao has always been known of selling fake and replicas product. No matter how much the seller claims themselves to be, 行货, 正品 whatnot, or how much proof of purchase / receipt they have, 90% of them are FAKES.
What’s more? Cunning sellers package their imitations together with authentic box and official tags, which can be purchased on Taobao.
Until Taobao’s house cleaning is completed, you can always purchase authentic stuff from USA! Click here to find out more about USA purchasing.
Yes, we know how frustrating it is getting a dress you can’t even fit into after waiting for like 4, or 5 days of shipment. Well, when you indeed fall in love with a jacket, a dress, a skit, the best way to get the right size is to measure yourself with the following diagram.
Size conversion is equally important! Click here for a general size chart prepared by us. However, sellers may have their individual size chart which measurement may vary. Always check out if there is any size chart in the individual seller as well!
In this section, we are going to share with you the common misconceptions shoppers from Singapore usually have. Items found in local market, may not be necessary be similar from China. What does it exactly mean?
1. Most Singapore households use fitted sheets (those with elastics at the corners), and commonly refers to them as bedsheets (床单). However, in China, bedsheets (床单) is just a piece of cloth covering and has to be manually tucked under the mattress. Fitted sheets are actually known as床笠，not 床单.
2. For custom-made curtains, the width of the cloth required is usually at least twice of the width of the window itself, in order to take into account the folding of the curtains. For example, if the window size is 1.5m width* 2m height, the amount of curtain cloth required would be at least 3m width * 2m height.
3. China Mahjong has only 136 tiles, while Singapore Mahjong has 144 tiles (8 more ‘animal tiles’).
4. For foil balloons, the deflated ‘O’ usually look like ‘C’, and deflated ‘8’ usually looks like ‘S’. When inflated, the gaps would join up.
5. China cars are left-hand drive, while Singapore cars are right-hand drive (Drivers purchasing car accessories need to take note!).
6. Size measurements are different in China. Size always matter, see Hack #6 if you miss that out.
7. Mobile phones purchase from Taobao aren’t guaranteed operational in Singapore. That’s because of the different air interface and radio frequency in Singapore. When buying a mobile phone from Taobao, always check the product descriptions (网络类型) and make sure it’s Network Type is suitable for Singapore usage
8. There are currently 15 types of electrical outlet plugs in use today. Unfortunately, the type of plug China and Singapore uses aren’t the same. So do remember to prepare or request for a converter from the seller if you are getting electrical appliances from Taobao! Some kind sellers do actually give them for free.
We have received numerous of calls and enquires from customers, asking this same question. “Why do I need your company to ship Taobao for me?” After giving them a satisfied answer, we are proud to say 4 out of 5 of them are our loyal customers since then.
So, what make us so special?
1. Do not need to liaise with Taobao sellers who communicate in mandarin, 65daigou will do the communication for you if you have any special instruction for your orders
2. Provide inspection for your item and ensure the item you receive are correct and good in condition
3. Provide repacking and consolidation service which will help to save your shipping cost
4. MUCH CHEAPER SHIPPING RATE AS COMPARED TO TAOBAO FORWARDERS. *Caps this point for a purpose. We truly are cheaper than other Taobao forwarders, do your own math!
5. Provide sea shipment which is suitable for bulky items
6. Provide express air via DHL (only 1 to 2 days shipment). Best suitable for small urgent parcels
Of course, all these value added services, comes with a small agent fee of 8% to 4%, depending on your membership status. But this small fee you are paying for goes a long way. From Pre-purchasing all its way to Aftersales coverage.
We here come to the end of today’s article.
For those Astro-Hunters out there, yes, we have hidden a clue to your shipping coupon code in this article.
Have fun hunting!