Taobao belongs to the Alibaba group and is one of the largest online sales platforms in China. It is, in a nutshell, a more massive and cheaper AliExpress, but only for the Chinese public.
And here is the best way to shop on Taobao from anywhere in the world.
What is Taobao? What can I buy there?
Taobao is one of the biggest selling platforms in China. It is like Amazon or Ebay but only in chinese and sellers can only register if they have a warehouse in China. The prices of the products are extremely low and you can also easily find replicas of international brand products.
Taobao vs AliExpress: Which is better?
The two platforms have a similar operation, they offer a place where different sellers offer their products. AliExpress targets shoppers from the rest of the world, its prices are higher, and the guarantees and regulations of each country are met, such as greater protection and the prohibition of selling replicas.
On Taobao, on the other hand, we will find lower prices and a great variety of products. For example, products from Chinese brands such as Xiaomi are somewhat cheaper in this store.
We can also find a wide variety of clothing, accessories and accessories at an incredibly low price. In addition you can also find replicas, which disappeared from AliExpress long time ago due to international pressure.
Taobao vs Alibaba: Is it the same?
Another common doubt is whether Taobao is the same as Alibaba.com. The truth is that they do not have much in common: Taobao belongs to the Alibaba group, but it is designed for retail purchases by individuals within China, unlike the Alibaba.com portal (also from the Alibaba group), oriented to wholesale purchases from anywhere in the world. The latter is focused on businesses who want to buy lots to resell products.
But does Taobao ship to other parts of the world?
This platform mainly ships only to China. Although it has recently expanded their business by allowing shipment of products to other regions such as South Korea, Japan or Canada, it does not seem that it intends to expand the sale of products internationally. In addition all interaction with sellers and the platform is still in Chinese.
Can I see Taobao in other languages?
If you are thinking of shopping on Taobao, you may want to view the site in your preferred language. The platform is completely in Chinese, no translation is available. But you can view the site in any other language by using the Google Chrome browser and clicking on the “Translate this page” option.
How to buy in Taobao from anywhere in the world
Fortunately today there are services that allow you to buy on Taobao, receive the products in their warehouses and send it to your country.
They are called agents.
What is a Taobao agent?
It is a person or company who is in charge of buying for you on Taobao, receiving the products in their warehouse and shipping them to your country. You just need to search for Taobao products and send the link to the agent for them to buy. The agent communicates with you in English, and then can communicate with the Taobao seller in Chinese, asking for more details of the product on your behalf, for example to request more photos or a size chart to choose the size.
So you cannot buy directly from Taobao, but you can buy through an agent. If you do a Google search you will see that there are several pages that offer this service. The purchase and shipping transaction is done through the agent, so we will have to provide personal data and pay money, so it is very important to look for a trustworthy agent.
How to choose a good Taobao agent
Not all agents are the same. When choosing a Taobao agent service, we recommend you to look at the following points:
- Service fees: Check what the fees are and where they apply.
- Information request: It is important that you can request details of the product in order to buy safely.
- Photographs of the product received: Most agents send us photos of what they have received, so we can see the details and decide if we like it or want to return it.
- Shipping methods: It is also important that the agent offers different shipping methods in order to get the best price.
- Customer service: It is important to see if other buyers are satisfied and if they respond to any problems that may arise during the transaction.
For example, it allows us to pay with PayPal, which gives us an extra guarantee when buying. It also has the IOSS system by which European buyers can pay VAT through the seller on products under €150. In this way we don't have to worry about customs.
Is it possible to cancel a purchase or process a warranty claim?
Between the cost of the product and the shipping, you will have invested quite a lot of money in your purchase. What happens if you are not satisfied? Well, most agents allow the return to your warehouse but keep in mind that between the time of receipt in China, what it takes the agent to send it to the seller of Taobao, and possible commissions that make us pay for the service… it'll most likely be a pretty annoying process that is not worth it.
As the Wegobuy agent will pass photos to you when they receive the package from the Taobao seller, it is important to check all the important details at that time. You may also ask them to measure the product to confirm that it meets your expectations. If you are not sure, you can return the product to the Taobao seller and the handling cost will be less than if you do it when it arrives in your country.
Obviously the warranty issue has a similar problem. In addition, the warranty in China is 1 year unlike other international countries. That is why we do not recommend buying technology, especially when in AliExpress and other pages you can find Chinese brands with very little difference in price and with the possibility of processing the warranty if you need it.
How to register on Taobao to search for products
Most agents allow you to find products through their search engine, although you can get more information if you search for what you are interested in Taobao and pass them the link.
To search for products on Taobao you need to be registered. You can do it through its mobile App or from the web. You just need to access the registration page and add your mobile number by selecting your country prefix.
Taobao will send you a verification code to your smartphone. We must warn you that many times it comes up with an error and you will have to insist for a bit. Sometimes you will even have to wait a few hours or change your browser.
How to search products on Taobao
Once you are registered, you can search for your favorite products. Copy the link and provide it to your agent. The usual way is to use the search bar by entering keywords, but as Taobao is in Chinese, sometimes you will not get many results. The best option is to use the translator to translate our keywords and use them in the search engine.
The best alternative is to use Taobao's image search, although it can only be used through its mobile app.
Simply click on the camera that appears in the bar when searching for a product and attach a photo of what you are looking for.
Taobao Yupoo Catalogues
As mentioned above, replicas are one of the reasons why people buy through Taobao. Most sellers use Yupoo catalogs to give more details of their products. Yupoo is a platform where anyone can create a page with different photo albums.
There are listings on the internet with Yupoo and Taobao sellers. The idea is to see the real pictures of what you are going to buy on Yupoo and with the Taobao link, order it through the Wegobuy agent or any other you have chosen.
Some sellers put the Taobao link directly in the product description on Yupoo. Others offer their WeChat or Whatsapp contact, where you can ask them for more details, measurements and the Taobao link.
It is not a good idea to buy directly from the seller, even if they offer it, since we will not have the same guarantees as through an agent, who will be able to take pictures of what they have received in their warehouse and in case it does not match, return it.
In short, is it worth buying on Taobao with an agent?
Nowadays it is difficult not to find Chinese brand products on AliExpress and other platforms. We recommend you to go to Taobao if you are looking for a very specific product or a product that is no longer sold on AliExpress, such as sneakers or branded clothing.
If you have finally decided to buy on Taobao, our recommendation is to use the services of Wegobuy. It is a reliable agent, it's in English and the best part is that it has the IOSS system, so if you buy from Europe you will not have to fight with customs. Although other sites are cheaper, customs can make the final cost of the purchase very high.