Saturday, June 08, 2013

Taobao Shopping Guide

Hey all!

Many have been asking me how one can order from mega shopping website, so here's a guide on how to do so! I will be listing a few ways on how to order so do read on and determine which are you most comfortable with! Its fairly simple even for those who don't read Chinese :)

Method 1: Through Sprees
  • Go on to spree sites like or forums such as hardwarezone
  • Wait for a spree organised by one of the shoppers (e.g
  • Submit a spree order
  • Wait for items to arrive!
Pros: No need to liase with agents/sellers yourself, less cumbersome
Cons: Long waiting time, additional middleman fees, postage, lower exchange rate

Product flow: Taobao Seller to Taobao Agent to Spree Organiser to You

Recommended for: those who don't have the time to follow up on orders and don't mind paying a little more for a hassle-free experience

Method 2: Through Taobao agents

Some Taobao agents also organise 'sprees'. However, while they seem to offer attractive shopping rates, do note that the shipping rate charged to you will be YOUR order only. (Read example below for comparison). 

  • Find a Taobao agent (E.g 65 daigou, sgshop)
  • Submit orders (Usually have to enter product options in Chinese)
  • Pay product cost + Agent fee
  • Taobao agent will contact you upon receiving all your products in their China Warehouse
  • Repackaging and Shipping to SG
  • Collect items from designated collection spot/Pay additional local courier charge
Pros: Direct contact with Taobao Agent, freedom to add on orders even after submitting initial order to make use of combined shipping, able to feedback problems to taobao agent
Cons: Pay full shipping charge (Read example below), have to make an extra trip to collect from agent's location

Product flow: Taobao seller to Taobao Agent to You

Recommended for: Those who prefer to know whats going on at every stage of the ordering process and who are ordering alot of stuff

Comparison Example
Some people think that ordering through taobao agent is cheaper (method 2), but usually this is not the case! Let's set some assumptions first: ie shipping is 12 for the first 500g and 6 for the subsequent 500g. So if you are ordering 2kg worth of stuff and you're comparing the shipping between the 2 methods:

Mtd 1:
Assume the spree organiser helps everyone to order and the total order is 10kg, total shipping would be S$126, if divided by weight, your 2 kg order would be around S$25.20.

Mtd 2:
Since it is 12 for the first 500g, your 2 kg order would be S$30, which is more expensive!

Of cos, this is without the consideration of agent fees etc. But this is how the taobao agents earn their money, by actually doing "spree organiser" work but charging each customer the full base charge for the 1st 500g.

Method 3: Self-order
This is the most complicated method! Basically, all the middlemen are cut off except for the courier company. However, it requires more steps and hence more troublesome.

  • Find someone to topup your alipay account
  • Proceed to purchase your orders on your own, paying with the money in your alipay account
  • Ship orders to a friend/courier company based in China
  • Friend/courier company repackages and forwards the packages to your address in Singapore
I included "friend" because some lucky people have friends staying in China who can receive the packages on their behalf! unfortunately, I'm not so lucky so I have to engage a courier company. It is risky because they might misplace one of your parcels and not forward it to you, or they wouldn't know if the taobao seller missed out certain items since they don't know what you're ordering. However, this is still my preferred method!

Pros: Able to enjoy bulk shipping discounts if purchasing alot, able to negotiate price with taobao sellers yourself, flexibility of adding on items, save on agent fees
Cons: Must purchase items on your own, tedious, have to topup alipay account (which is super difficult if you don't have a bank account in China)

Recommended for: People who are buying ALOT of items at one go. (Like me - heaviest delivery ever was 25kg!!!)

Sorry that this is a rather wordy post! But hope this information helps those who are interested in buying from taobao but don't know how to start :) Happy Shopping!!

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