Our Taobao expert Vincent shows you step by step how to get started on Taobao and avoid beginner mistakes in this part 1 of our Taobao Pro Series Tutorial
Taobao (淘宝), which means “seeking treasure” in Chinese, is an online marketplace for Consumer-to-Consumer (C2C) and Business-to-Consumer (B2C) sales that was started in 2003 by Alibaba Group. It gives individuals and small business owners a place to sell their products online through their own “stores.” There is Taobao Marketplace for individuals and small to medium businesses and Tmall (also called Tmall Global) for medium to large companies.
Watch Part 1 of our Youtube Video Guide: Shopping At Taobao, Important Things You Need To Know
An Introduction: What is Taobao and what’s so great about it?
People outside China sometimes call Taobao the China Amazon or eBay, which is much better than those sites. More than half of the sellers on Amazon are from China anyway, and if you use Taobao, you can save a lot of money.
Taobao is the biggest e-commerce site in the world and one of the top 10 most visited sites, with more than 600 million monthly users and nearly 60 percent of e-commerce sales. It is used by most Chinese people and more and more people in Asia and around the world.
Taobao is China’s largest online market. It has more than 1 billion product listings and sells almost anything you can think of. You can buy cheap clothes, accessories, gadgets, and even computer parts.
But everything on Taobao is in Chinese, which is a problem for people who want to shop but don’t know how to use it.
But don’t worry, Taobao is much easier for Singaporeans to use now than it used to be. We’ll show you how to create a Taobao account and use it to buy cheap goods from China.
How Does Taobao work with Buyers and Sellers? See our Taobao infographic flow chart of the buying and selling Process
Taobao is made up of online shops owned by people or businesses. The seller puts an item or service up for sale on Taobao in their Taobao store. On Taobao, sellers can list their goods and services and sell them at a set price or through an auction. Most goods are sold at fixed prices and come in a wide range (similar to traditional retail stores). Buyers can read reviews and ratings of products and stores to help them decide which ones to buy.
The buyer uses the Taobao search engine to look for a particular item. If the customer has questions, he will use Taobao’s instant messaging system to contact the store (Ali Wang Wang). Once customers have chosen an item, they pay for it with Alipay, Alibaba’s online and mobile payment system.
The money is placed in an Escrow account for up to 10 days or until the order is completed. Having an escrow service in place gives buyers the confidence the transaction is secured and sellers the assurance they are dealing with genuine buyers. Taobao is assured of quality delivery by sellers. This trustworthy environment increases and promotes customer loyalty.
Once the customer has received the goods, they have time to check that the goods are satisfactory and give a rating. The money will then be sent to the store from the escrow account.
Throughout the year, Taobao holds several online shopping festivals to promote stores and products. Single’s Day and Double Eleven are the most well-known of these. These festivals, as well as paid search, live streaming, and other ways to market, give sellers a chance to show off their goods and attract Chinese customers.
We show you the quickest and simplest way to register a Taobao Account Step by Step
Follow our easy step-by-step guide for creating an account on Taobao
Step 1. For those who don’t understand Chinese, you will need to install a translation plugin on your browser, whether you’re using Chrome, Microsoft Edge, Firefox, or Safari. This will allow you to translate on the fly. We’ll be utilising Chrome and Google Translate in our demonstration.
Step 2: Go to the Taobao website and select English in the top right-hand corner to toggle the translation service.
Step 3. Choose “Free Registration”
Step 4. On this Page, Taobao provides onsite English language selection.
Step 5: Enter your Singapore mobile number and the verification code that appears, then click the orange “Agree and Register” button
Step 6: Success!! You are almost ready to start buying on Taobao
Now, follow the rest of the steps in the video below to key in your profile details, and shipping address and you are ready to start your shopping spree.
Watch Part 2 of our Youtube Video Guide: How to Register an Account on Taobao in the easiest quickest way:
How do I communicate with sellers in Mandarin and Chinese and how can I translate?
The Taobao user interface, item listings, and navigation are all in Chinese. Google Translate the page is one approach to make sense of it all. Even then, expect strange and confusing translated outcomes. The good news is that a fair number of Chinese vendors can speak English.
When you search for international brands like “Samsung” or “iPhones,” the search engine will return some results since these merchants will have included English keywords in their listings.
How do I get more accurate and better search results?
You can sort results based on certain criteria, just like with most search engines (filters). You can sort search results on Taobao by Price, Popularity, Sales, Seller’s Reputation, and Newest Additions.
You can also search for: Consumer Protection, 7-day Return Policy, Genuine Product, WangWang Live Chat, Overseas Product, Cash on Delivery, and Accepts Credit Card.
Within an item’s listing, you can sometimes choose an option (colour or other specifications) as shown below, marked 1. You can also tell if the item is still in stock, marked 2.
How to Choose or Identify a Reliable Taobao Seller?
You would want to choose a trustworthy seller with experience, just like you would on Amazon, Lazada, or Shopee. One way to find out is to find out how many transactions they have handled and delivered successfully. This is shown on the seller’s profile page. This seller, for example, has an average monthly sales of 1000+ of this particular item (marked 1 below).
Buyers can also give sellers ratings. Hearts are the lowest rank, followed by diamonds, blue crowns, and then yellow crowns. Before moving up to the next rank, a seller must earn 5 of each rank. You can see that the seller below has 2 blue crowns, which is a pretty good score (marked 2 below).
The overall rating for the seller in terms of the product description, service level and logistics service is marked 3.
How does Taobao’s Feedback system works?
Before making a purchase, customer feedback and reviews are a great resource on most online shopping sites. At the bottom of a product page on Taobao, you can also see what other buyers have said about the item.
The quality of the product is rated by people who have bought and received the item you are looking at. The system uses stars and a rating from 1 to 5, so if a product has a rating of 5, you can assume it is good.
As you scroll down, you’ll see comments from people who had bought the item from the seller. You can focus on those reviews with photos / videos and the follow-up reviews. This will give you better understanding on the product quality.
But if there are no reviews for that product, you can click on the seller’s rating to see what other people have said about the seller as a whole (heart, diamond or crown). This gives you a great idea of how trustworthy the seller is before you buy something from him or her.
How to make payment for your purchase in Taobao?
Every transaction on Taobao is completed in Chinese Yuan (RMB) and is processed through Alipay, which is like PayPal. You can pay for things in Singapore with a credit card or debit card from Singapore.
On top of the price of the item and the shipping fee, you might have to pay extra fees like insurance. Please note that there will be a 3% transaction fees for all your purchases made using Singapore’s credit/debit cards. You also have to think about the rate of exchange.
Shipping your Taobao purchases
Shipping your Taobao purchase to Singapore is relatively easy. You just need to choose your shipping address and pick the desired delivery method available as shown (marked 1).
Do keep in mind that not everything ships “directly” to Singapore because some products, especially branded ones, have different prices in different regions (marked 1).