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Taobao shopping service guide

Blogged by: Kitty on Sunday, April 07, 2013  
Commentators: Blogger Sann, Blogger Kitty Kasim, Anonymous rental mobil jakarta,
Facebook comments: comments

The original post can be found on my other blog here: http://cuteness.in/blog/2013/04/taobao-shopping-service-guide/

Taobao.com
Taobao.com

In case you haven't heard of Taobao, here's a not-so-short introduction to it. Taobao is a online Chinese marketplace where individual sellers sell their goods. It is akin to Ebay or Amazon so if you are familiar with how these two work, you can get pretty much a rough idea how Taobao works. Since it is written in Chinese, you could just use translation tools like Google Translate to translate the pages into English.

The selection of items on Taobao is immensely HUGE so you can almost find anything and everything on it and at RIDICULOUSLY low prices too (warning alert: it might be wise to hide your purses before you go on Taobao). The currency used on Taobao is the Chinese Renminbi (RMB) which, according to the current exchange rate, 1 USD = 6.1 CNY and many of the apparel shops sell their goods at ¥100 or below. You can use currency converter tools such as Google Currency Converter plugin or online converters such as XE or Coinmill.

Just like Ebay, the shops on Taobao have ratings to indicate more or less the quality of the services. At the top of every shop's page, you would see little icons next to the shop's name. The icons are divided into hearts, diamonds and crowns. These icons indicate how many sales the store has made (not the quality), and the more sales a store make, the better the ranking is (with crowns being the highest). For a more detailed explanation on this, please refer to HelloLace under the heading of Feedback System and Item Authenticity.

HelloLace has compiled a good number of shops into a list. (I'm fighting the urge to check out some of the shops now...)

Be reminded that, Asian clothing sizes are different from those in Europe and US so always check the sizes before purchasing. Do not always rely on size converter charts but it is advisable to get your measurements and compare them to sizes listed on the shops.

Unfortunately for the rest of the world, Taobao is a closed market where most of the sellers do not ship outside China, and therefore Taobao did not accept international credit cards1 though recently Taobao has announced they are accepting international credit cards but the fact remains that most of the shops on Taobao do not ship overseas.

But because there is a huge demand of the goods on Taobao from international customers, shopping services (SS) or agents start popping up here and there. These shopping services would perform as the third-party mediator between the stores on Taobao and international customers as well as providing forwarding services. Which basically means, if you want anything from Taobao, you approach one of these SS and inform them what items you want and they'll make the purchases for you and have those items shipped to your location. Obviously the services are not free and there are other fees to consider too.

Most SS are based in China so purchasing/handling processes are easier and faster. Though there are also individuals who offer such services as well and some of them do not necessarily based in China. Also, there are SS which cater for specific region/countries and this is particularly advantageous for those who prefer to have a local SS which is familiar with the country's customs regulations.

The following are several known Taobao SS (including individual agents). For more information/details on each one of them, please refer to this link: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/lv?key=0AlgllpMiw3VNdGpfWFlYazhjblh5emRjZF9qMkJISWc&f=true&noheader=true&gid=0

12got
AgencyTaobao
Bhiner
Buy China
Celestial Delinquent (individual)
Charmbuy
Dollypoodle (individual)
ENG Taobao
Frugirls
MyObook
Pruany
Taobaobuying
Taobao Focus
Taobao Now
TaobaoRing
TaobaoSpree
TaobaoTrends
Yoybuy
[If you'd like to add a shopping service to this list, please leave a comment below]

For Bruneians, our own local Taobao SS is Buyeos (currently operating through Facebook).

Placing orders
The shopping procedures would vary depending on which SS you use. Some might be of less hassle than others, but it also depends on you as a customer especially if you have special requirements. But generally there are two ordering systems: through web carts and, using spreadsheet form/emails.

1) Web carts
This is pretty simple to use. You only need to copy and paste the URL link of the item's page into an input box on the SS website and the SS will translate the page into English. Once translated, you can place your order like you would on Ebay or Amazon. However some SS's interface (such as Taobaonow and TaobaoTrends) do not include the option to choose size and/or colour so you would need to manually specify this in an input box provided.

2) Filling in a spreadsheet form or, for some individual agents, by emailing them with your requests.
For SS that require you to fill in a spreadsheet form, this form can be downloaded from the SS website. The form is usually designed so that it could automatically calculate the total cost for you. Once you are done, you are to email the form back to the SS and they will process your orders accordingly.
Do note that some SS may not allow you to add more items into the order later on so you might have to place another order again.

SS agents that operate as individuals may not have their own websites2 so they may simply resort to using spreadsheet forms or by simply having the customers emailing them with what they want. The thing about individual agents is that their service is a lot more personal than other SS because most of the time they too are shoppers with their own needs so they would understand better a customer's needs and expectations. However, because many of these agents are doing this as a part-time hobby so they may/may not entertain enquiries from customers who do not intend to make purchases.

Fees
Now, while the items on Taobao can be low-priced, half of the bulk of the total cost is made up of shipping fees. Domestic shipping is not so much of a worry especially if you buy your items from the same seller. However, international shipping can be ginormous depending on your location. Moreover, there are also customs fee, service fee, insurance fee (optional) as well as fees charged by your bank (if you use credit cards) or PayPal or other money transfer services.

The service fees also depend on the SS you use. The lowest service fee according to my knowledge is 5% 3% (Dollypoodle) of the items subtotal.

Shipping and shipping fees
Shipping fees and delivery times vary according to the type of shipping services you use. Standard China air freight, is the cheapest option you can choose as well as the slowest one (this is arguable) which may take up to 2 months. Most people prefer to use EMS because it is faster3 but it is also more expensive. However, some SS actually offer up to 50% discount on EMS).
Note: Unfortunately for Brunei and a couple of other countries (sorry I can't remember which on top of my head), EMS service from China is not available.

Your SS may also offer other faster, safer (and much more expensive) delivery options, that is using couriers like DHL, FEDEX and TNT4. These are, as mentioned above, much more expensive than EMS so it is not advisable to pick this option if your items' subtotal cost less than the shipping fee (and as far as I know, only Yoybuy offer 50% discount on DHL).

So which SS should I choose?
It all boils down to what you are looking for and your personal preference. If you don't mind paying more for more quality personal service, you might want to go with the individual agents. The important thing is to read the reviews on the SS to get a general idea of the service. One shopping tip I'd like to share is: if you are new to Taobao shopping or if you are trying out a SS, always start small with your first order so that if anything goes wrong, your loss is not great.

If you guys have anything to add to the guide above, you can either email them to me at admin[at]cuteness.in or post them in the comment section below.

1. That includes international payment gateway like PayPal
2. Which can be costly to operate and these things can be a lot more technical than you could imagine
3. Some people say it can be slower than regular registered mail
4. Recently Yoybuy has added Aramex into the list of options

Labels: ,


Comments to Taobao shopping service guide:


Hi nice guide. I saw that you said the lowest known charge is 5%. The shopping service i always use charges 3% tough. So i tought i would share it with you. This girl also only operates trough facebook. https://www.facebook.com/groups/195413863810183/

@Sann, 3%? Really? Wow I wonder how she makes a profit out of it. :) Thanks for your input. I'll have a look at the SS soon. :)

Nice article, thanks for the information.

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Taobao shopping service guide

Blogged by: Kitty on Sunday, April 07, 2013  
Commentators: Blogger Sann, Blogger Kitty Kasim, Anonymous rental mobil jakarta,
Facebook comments: comments

The original post can be found on my other blog here: http://cuteness.in/blog/2013/04/taobao-shopping-service-guide/

Taobao.com
Taobao.com

In case you haven't heard of Taobao, here's a not-so-short introduction to it. Taobao is a online Chinese marketplace where individual sellers sell their goods. It is akin to Ebay or Amazon so if you are familiar with how these two work, you can get pretty much a rough idea how Taobao works. Since it is written in Chinese, you could just use translation tools like Google Translate to translate the pages into English.

The selection of items on Taobao is immensely HUGE so you can almost find anything and everything on it and at RIDICULOUSLY low prices too (warning alert: it might be wise to hide your purses before you go on Taobao). The currency used on Taobao is the Chinese Renminbi (RMB) which, according to the current exchange rate, 1 USD = 6.1 CNY and many of the apparel shops sell their goods at ¥100 or below. You can use currency converter tools such as Google Currency Converter plugin or online converters such as XE or Coinmill.

Just like Ebay, the shops on Taobao have ratings to indicate more or less the quality of the services. At the top of every shop's page, you would see little icons next to the shop's name. The icons are divided into hearts, diamonds and crowns. These icons indicate how many sales the store has made (not the quality), and the more sales a store make, the better the ranking is (with crowns being the highest). For a more detailed explanation on this, please refer to HelloLace under the heading of Feedback System and Item Authenticity.

HelloLace has compiled a good number of shops into a list. (I'm fighting the urge to check out some of the shops now...)

Be reminded that, Asian clothing sizes are different from those in Europe and US so always check the sizes before purchasing. Do not always rely on size converter charts but it is advisable to get your measurements and compare them to sizes listed on the shops.

Unfortunately for the rest of the world, Taobao is a closed market where most of the sellers do not ship outside China, and therefore Taobao did not accept international credit cards1 though recently Taobao has announced they are accepting international credit cards but the fact remains that most of the shops on Taobao do not ship overseas.

But because there is a huge demand of the goods on Taobao from international customers, shopping services (SS) or agents start popping up here and there. These shopping services would perform as the third-party mediator between the stores on Taobao and international customers as well as providing forwarding services. Which basically means, if you want anything from Taobao, you approach one of these SS and inform them what items you want and they'll make the purchases for you and have those items shipped to your location. Obviously the services are not free and there are other fees to consider too.

Most SS are based in China so purchasing/handling processes are easier and faster. Though there are also individuals who offer such services as well and some of them do not necessarily based in China. Also, there are SS which cater for specific region/countries and this is particularly advantageous for those who prefer to have a local SS which is familiar with the country's customs regulations.

The following are several known Taobao SS (including individual agents). For more information/details on each one of them, please refer to this link: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/lv?key=0AlgllpMiw3VNdGpfWFlYazhjblh5emRjZF9qMkJISWc&f=true&noheader=true&gid=0

12got
AgencyTaobao
Bhiner
Buy China
Celestial Delinquent (individual)
Charmbuy
Dollypoodle (individual)
ENG Taobao
Frugirls
MyObook
Pruany
Taobaobuying
Taobao Focus
Taobao Now
TaobaoRing
TaobaoSpree
TaobaoTrends
Yoybuy
[If you'd like to add a shopping service to this list, please leave a comment below]

For Bruneians, our own local Taobao SS is Buyeos (currently operating through Facebook).

Placing orders
The shopping procedures would vary depending on which SS you use. Some might be of less hassle than others, but it also depends on you as a customer especially if you have special requirements. But generally there are two ordering systems: through web carts and, using spreadsheet form/emails.

1) Web carts
This is pretty simple to use. You only need to copy and paste the URL link of the item's page into an input box on the SS website and the SS will translate the page into English. Once translated, you can place your order like you would on Ebay or Amazon. However some SS's interface (such as Taobaonow and TaobaoTrends) do not include the option to choose size and/or colour so you would need to manually specify this in an input box provided.

2) Filling in a spreadsheet form or, for some individual agents, by emailing them with your requests.
For SS that require you to fill in a spreadsheet form, this form can be downloaded from the SS website. The form is usually designed so that it could automatically calculate the total cost for you. Once you are done, you are to email the form back to the SS and they will process your orders accordingly.
Do note that some SS may not allow you to add more items into the order later on so you might have to place another order again.

SS agents that operate as individuals may not have their own websites2 so they may simply resort to using spreadsheet forms or by simply having the customers emailing them with what they want. The thing about individual agents is that their service is a lot more personal than other SS because most of the time they too are shoppers with their own needs so they would understand better a customer's needs and expectations. However, because many of these agents are doing this as a part-time hobby so they may/may not entertain enquiries from customers who do not intend to make purchases.

Fees
Now, while the items on Taobao can be low-priced, half of the bulk of the total cost is made up of shipping fees. Domestic shipping is not so much of a worry especially if you buy your items from the same seller. However, international shipping can be ginormous depending on your location. Moreover, there are also customs fee, service fee, insurance fee (optional) as well as fees charged by your bank (if you use credit cards) or PayPal or other money transfer services.

The service fees also depend on the SS you use. The lowest service fee according to my knowledge is 5% 3% (Dollypoodle) of the items subtotal.

Shipping and shipping fees
Shipping fees and delivery times vary according to the type of shipping services you use. Standard China air freight, is the cheapest option you can choose as well as the slowest one (this is arguable) which may take up to 2 months. Most people prefer to use EMS because it is faster3 but it is also more expensive. However, some SS actually offer up to 50% discount on EMS).
Note: Unfortunately for Brunei and a couple of other countries (sorry I can't remember which on top of my head), EMS service from China is not available.

Your SS may also offer other faster, safer (and much more expensive) delivery options, that is using couriers like DHL, FEDEX and TNT4. These are, as mentioned above, much more expensive than EMS so it is not advisable to pick this option if your items' subtotal cost less than the shipping fee (and as far as I know, only Yoybuy offer 50% discount on DHL).

So which SS should I choose?
It all boils down to what you are looking for and your personal preference. If you don't mind paying more for more quality personal service, you might want to go with the individual agents. The important thing is to read the reviews on the SS to get a general idea of the service. One shopping tip I'd like to share is: if you are new to Taobao shopping or if you are trying out a SS, always start small with your first order so that if anything goes wrong, your loss is not great.

If you guys have anything to add to the guide above, you can either email them to me at admin[at]cuteness.in or post them in the comment section below.

1. That includes international payment gateway like PayPal
2. Which can be costly to operate and these things can be a lot more technical than you could imagine
3. Some people say it can be slower than regular registered mail
4. Recently Yoybuy has added Aramex into the list of options

Labels: ,



Comments to Taobao shopping service guide:


Hi nice guide. I saw that you said the lowest known charge is 5%. The shopping service i always use charges 3% tough. So i tought i would share it with you. This girl also only operates trough facebook. https://www.facebook.com/groups/195413863810183/

@Sann, 3%? Really? Wow I wonder how she makes a profit out of it. :) Thanks for your input. I'll have a look at the SS soon. :)

Nice article, thanks for the information.

Post a Comment

Commenting policy:
1. Please leave comments that are relevant to the blog post.
2. Comments on posts that are more than 14 days old will be moderated.
3. Do not post advertisements to your own site/products here.
4. Do not post private information, it will be deleted.
5. Refrain from using abusive/vulgar words, if you have personal issues with me, contact me directly through the contact form or my email instead.

Facebook comments to Taobao shopping service guide:


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