How To Tao


Source: Taobao

Most Chinese e-commerce websites are overwhelming. Wacky colours, text overcrowding, and flashy banners are some of the most common culprits. This kind of information and sensory overload usually makes you want to just give up before you’ve even started typing in the search bar (where is that anyway?).

However, as a research-savvy online shopaholic Hong Konger who likes to find the “best price”, “best products” and “best deal” possible, I managed to overcome my initial impression of various intimidating (read: crazy looking) websites and have become somewhat of an online shopping pro, despite the fact that I don’t take well to reading simplified Chinese (or any Chinese, for that matter). One of the websites I am most “pro” at dissecting is Taobao. It is notorious for its maze-like effect on us, but the further down the rabbit hole I go, the more I find myself intrigued and driven. So along the way I actually built a set of tips and tricks inside my head that I shared with friends sporadically. They were amazed and happy, which made me happy and amazed that people found it useful.

So now, I have decided to send these good vibes out into the blogosphere and share my daily obsessions, shopping impulses and geek-like shopping research adventures with you, dear readers out there.

When searching for new items or new shops, I always keep an eye out for a few things. Here are a few useful things to bear in mind when buying from a new seller or debating whether or not to buy an item (full details with pictorial walkthroughs to come in upcoming posts)

The Seller:

– When did the shop open?
– What are their service ratings out of 5.0?
– What is their seller rating (sticker icons)?
– What are their sales activities like (have they sold a lot of items)?

The Product:

– How many have been sold already?
– What do the comments generally say? Keep an eye out for common complaints for certain products (e.g. shoes which stink, colour differences, etc.)
– Check photos and testimonials from other buyers.
– How many legit looking photos are there in the product description?

Extra Perks:

– Free shipping – but beware; if you return something you may have to then reimburse the seller for it
– Is there free shipping if you purchase over a certain amount?
– Look for “七天無理由退貨“ (No-fuss 7 days return guarantee)
– Can you get a “套餐“ discount if you buy this product along with another one?
– Check if the seller has a shipping time guarantee (some vow to ship within 24 hours, or will ship the same day if you order before 5pm)

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