22 Apr 2020 | Theodore
We like cheap things, right? We also love knowing how to navigate shops and stores. Below are some quick steps to navigating the hectic world of the e-commerce giant Taobao. But before we get into that, here are some quick tips and information about navigating Chinese e-commerce:
1. Taobao VS Tmall
Taobao is a consumer to consumer (C2C) marketplace and Tmall is a business to consumer (B2C) marketplace. Tmall will sell things on Taobao so there will be a small little logo near the pricing information that look like a little shopping bag with white handles.
2. Payment Methods
Purchasing things from Taobao can be done with a credit card registered with a Hong Kong or Chinese account. However, you can also set up a Hong Kong Alipay account and pay from it for more secure transactions. If doing this way, you can transfer money directly into your account or go to some of the local retailers (Watsons, 7-Eleven, Circle K, etc.) and ask to top up your account by scanning the QR code from your phone and then giving them money.
3. Consolidating Shipping or Direct Shipping
HK has the unique privilege of being close to mainland China, but unfortunately buying on Taobao doesn’t include shipping costs to HK. We can use something called consolidated shipping to gather the products in Shenzhen and then ship them to Hong Kong together for a considerably reduced rate. Remember, Taobao purchases include shipping prices only within mainland China. If you choose to buy a single product or have them ship directly to Hong Kong, you will have to pay a secondary import and shipping fee for each product.
So, with all the technical bits out of the way. Here is a fast and easy way to use many people’s favourite shopping marketplace.
1. Create an Account
Look for these characters (免費註冊) next to a smiling orange pumpkin person. This is to create a new account.
Now click “English” near the top of the section and fill it out with your phone number and slide over to verify. You’ll next have to type in the phone verification code that was sent to your phone.
You’ll then have to add in your email address and create an “ID.”
2. Updating Your Shipping Address
Sign back in and click on your “ID”
Look for “ 帐号设置”- This is for account settings
Look for “收货地址” – this is your shipping address
Click this to change country “切换”
For Hong Kong, click 中国香港 – This is Hong Kong SAR, and then click the confirm in the bold blue section.
Next section is your address
Next section is for postal code (no need for HK)
Next is your name
And the last section is for your phone number (including country code)
Click the check box and then the blue button (check box makes it your default address)
Once you have all that done then its time to shop! When shopping on Taobao you can either search in English or search in Chinese. When searching in English its good to be mindful that the prices will be slightly higher. If you are okay with that then go right ahead, however if you are conscientious of price, then it would be smart to search a Chinese- English dictionary (like Pleco) for the word or use Google translate (which sometimes uses odd phrasing).
If a price does look too good to be true, it probably is. Make sure to check out the seller’s ratings or to look for awards and badges given to them by customers and companies (particularly if they are the licensed shop).
Things to note:
If there is an icon that looks like a shopping bag with eyes, that means that you will be redirected to TMall.