What is your experience with Taobao, the Chinese version of Ebay?
来源：无极4 http://www.abaripsen.com/46143.html 译者：Jessica.Wu
Ayu Razumova, Taobao VIP Level 4 Member. Taobao-ing on daily basis.
As a foreigner living in China, I can proudly say that 90% of the things I own today were bought right off Taobao. I created my account back in 2013 when I just came here, with the help of Google Translate. I started buying small items that were mostly cheap office supplies and had it delivered to the office for my own convenience (so that the delivery man will not call me for being unable to find my address as I can’t speak Chinese at all back then!). A month later, we moved in to a new apartment where I wanted to decorate it so bad, so I went back to use my Taobao.
I decided to download the app to my phone and then my Taobao adventure begun. I bought fabrics, clothes, shoes, toys, homewares, home appliances, cookwares even IKEA stuff from Taobao seller (there is IKEA in Shenzhen but I really hate going there…). It took me few weeks to figure out how Taobao search algorithm works, as inputting a translated English word on search, never really gives me a good search result. I also learned to use filter, price range, comparison, etc without even knowing a word in Chinese. In the end of my 1st year in China, I literally bought everything, except fresh groceries, straight from Taobao. I even found several trusted sellers that opens purchasing service for cosmetics and luxury items from overseas.
My rule of thumb in shopping on Taobao:
ŸAlways check the seller’s level (there is hearts, diamond & crown to mark the seller’s reliability, also how long is the store have been operating, etc)
ŸAlways check the reviews section of the product you want to buy
ŸTry to compare the price of a product, with different store (this is quite tricky as it requires you to know some basic Chinese characters)
For me, my Taobao experience have been surprisingly good. The platform gives Chinese people to sell goods in between themselves, faster and efficiently than brick & mortar. Yes, there were shoes that didn’t fits well and I had to send it back, there were some defective items that I need to ask for a refund or exchange, but these are all part of the online shopping experience!
I mean, seriously, now getting a Russian kolbasa (sausage) that my husband been wanting and a whole box of Indonesian Indomie noodles that I love, is just a Taobao away!
Taobao makes my life as a foreigner, so much more easier in China and once you are able to use it successfully, it becomes so addictive that I have a bank card dedicated just for Taobao (as my husband is getting concerned on my spending habit) and even become the middleman for my foreigner friends who wants to order stuff from Taobao but didn’t know how :)
Yiran Z, Experienced money spender.
This will be a long answer.
First off, as others have pointed out, Taobao isn’t the ‘Chinese version of Ebay’, not exactly. Taobao has practically become an omniscient entity in China, and people have even come to use its name as a verb—我打算买个X. 我回家淘宝一下. I plan to buy X. I’m just going to Taobao it when I get home.
Taobao also provides a huge variety of services—you can buy movie tickets, order takeout, bid in an auction, top up your phone, book hotels and flights, etc.
Right, my thoughts. I’ve been using Taobao for years and my mother has been using it since the early 2000s. A woman in possession of the true pioneering spirit, that one.
I’ve found Taobao to be both reliable and convenient. Extremely convenient, to be perfectly honest. I shall elaborate.
1stAuthenticity of products (in the case of brand names). The elephant in the room, eh? After all, China is the motherland of counterfeits and fake products. It’s a huge problem and I will not deny that. The truth is that all sorts of vendors exist on Taobao. For some products, especially popular household brands, you’re indeed knee deep in very murky waters. Say you want to buy a Mac lipstick of a particular shade. You search for it on Taobao and about 13948914 results come up (I made that number up). Some sell for 50RMB and others 130RMB. Some have garish thumbnails and some display photos taken in MAC shops, showcasing the lipsticks and swatches. Now which do you buy? This is where one needs to exercise careful judgment and draw on accumulated wisdom. You check the seller’s credentials, their ratings, customer reviews, product description and the pictures attached. You do all that and then make the decision. Keep in mind that you get what you pay for. Put plainly, if you jump into Taobao and purchase from the cheapest seller with terrible ratings and dodgy shopfront, you’ll get cheated and it’s only to be expected, really. Don’t buy that 50RMB MAC lipstick. It’s a bloody crayon.
2ndTmall for your trust issues. Tmall is an extension of Taobao, it’s better regulated and all the registered vendors are companies, instead of individuals. Many companies have ‘flagship stores’ there, and you can safely place your trust in them. For these companies, their Tmall pages serve as an online outlet, more or less.
3rdIf you don’t care about the brand. Then Taobao is heaven. Need to pick up some hair bands? Hundreds of shops sell them for near to nothing. Good quality as well. I bought about a lifetime’s supply for 15RMB, shipping included!
4thCustomer service. You can chat with the seller real-time. None of that leave-a-message-and-I’ll-get-back-to-you-in-3-years nonsense. You can talk to a real person in real time, asking any and all questions and even haggle. A typical conversation that I have with shop owners goes like this—Me: I’m gonna buy this and this, I live in X city. Care to waive the shipping? I’m an old-time customer. Them: Sure. You go place the order and I’ll take the shipping off for you. Just like that. Additionally, Taobao has third-party customer service that will intervene if the seller refuses reasonable requests, such as returning damaged items. You also get your requests processed more quickly, the better credits you have. The refund/return process is amazing on Taobao.
5thShipping. Shipping is cheap and fast (this is more because of the courier companies but I digress). I often get my package the next day. And the sellers wrap the items so well that I need about 12 sharp tools to open them. Sellers really care that their products arrive in mint condition.
If I were to sum up Taobao in one word, I would say that it’s very human. And just as humans are, you get the crooks and the kind-hearted, with the vast majority being good people who just want to make a few bucks.
Carol Hilton, Sourcing, purchasing and shipping agent in China
I’ve shopping on Taobao since it’s launched in 2003 and I know its history very clearly. Frankly speaking Taobao is way too better than Ebay now if you take a look at both of their websites, Taobao is far more user friendly than Ebay and Amazon.
Now the chinese are get used to online shopping daily on Taobao and JD, I nearly shopping online every week for household staff like clothes, foods, electronics etc. Nearly everything you can imagine is available online.
Now let’s come to your concern, is Taobao reliable? I know you are concern about the security and product quality. No one internet companies can guarante 100% safe even Google and Apple has lots of holes on Android and iOS system, but Taobao is safe to shopping (it has 450 millions people and 30 million orders everyday, Alipay offer compensation guarantee if you money hacked on their website, another way you can ask taobao agent shopping for you which has lot security issue on yourself). The second concern is the quality, based on my experience shopping on Taobao, I buy small things like clothes, socks, fruits and many other things with law value on Taobao, the phones, computers, TV and notebook I bought from JD or Tmall, JD(similar to amazon) offers very fast delivery service in China and I do not have to worry about the quality cause they are all from the brands factory.
Usually foreigners have lots of difficult when start shopping on Taobao because they have no idea about Taobao, I highly suggest you take a look at The best Taobao forwarder shipping agent for foreigners which offers Taobao tips and tutorials to help foreigner shopping on Taobao.