Dive into the expansive realm of Taobao, Asia’s largest and most dynamic online retail platform. With its vast selection and competitive pricing, Taobao invites shoppers worldwide to discover a marketplace bursting with an array of products. Whether you’re after the latest electronics, traditional handicrafts, chic fashion, or essential furniture, Taobao is your gateway to it all. 

As you learn how to shop on Taobao, M&P International Freights is here to streamline your experience. Read on as we guide you through each step, ensuring that the leap from browsing to buying is seamless and that every delivery brings the excitement of Taobao right to your doorstep.

STEP 1: HOW TO CREATE A TAOBAO ACCOUNT

Embarking on your Taobao adventure begins with a simple yet crucial step: creating your own Taobao account. This is where your shopping journey takes shape, allowing you to manage your cart, track orders, and save your billing and shipping preferences for a swift checkout process. 

When you access the Taobao website, this is the homepage that you’ll see:

Here’s how to kickstart the account registration process on Taobao:

  1. Click on “免费注冊” (mian fei zhu ce; free registration) on the top left corner of the screen.
  2. Wait to be redirected to the registration page to fill in your information

Once you’ve landed on the registration page, simply follow these steps to confirm your account registration:

  1. Enter your mobile number on the registration page
  2. Receive a One-Time Password (OTP) from Taobao
  3. Input this OTP to proceed with setting up your account.

STEP 2: HOW TO SEARCH FOR PRODUCTS ON TAOBAO

With your Taobao account ready, you’re all set to dive into the search and discovery phase. Unlocking the full potential of Taobao’s vast marketplace starts with mastering the search function. Whether you have a specific product in mind or you’re browsing for inspiration, understanding how to effectively navigate Taobao’s search can transform your shopping experience. 

In the following sections, we’ll share expert tips and strategies to help you efficiently find exactly what you’re looking for, or perhaps discover something new and exciting.

Taobao Shopping Keywords

Mastering Taobao’s search requires more than translating English to Chinese—it’s about knowing the exact keywords that match the items you’re looking for. Here’s a simplified guide to help you search effectively:

  1. Identify the item you want to find on Taobao.
  2. Refer to our compiled list of essential keywords below for various product categories.
  3. Copy the relevant Chinese keyword from the list.
  4. Paste the keyword into Taobao’s search bar, located at the top of the homepage.
  5. Click the orange “搜索” (sou suo; search) button to see your results.

Style Keywords

FASHION STYLESCHINESE TRANSLATION
Korean Style韩版 (han ban)
Japanese Style日系 (ri xi)
Korean Ulzzang Style原宿风 (yuan su feng)
European / American Style欧美式 (ou mei shi)
Hawaiian Flora Style夏威夷风 (xia wei yi feng)
Ancient Chinese Style古装 (gu zhuang)
Modern Chinese Style中国风 (zhong guo feng)
Casual休闲 (xiu xian)
Formal/Business正式/商务 (zheng shi/shang wu)
Streetwear街头穿着 (jie tou chuan zhuo)
Sportswear运动装 (yun dong zhuang)
Bohemian波西米亚 (bo xi mi ya)

Clothing Keywords

CLOTHING ITEMSCHINESE TRANSLATION
T-shirtT恤 (T xu)
Jeans牛仔裤 (niu zai ku)
Dress连衣裤 (lian yi ku)
Jacket/Coat外套/大衣 (wai tao/da yi)
Sneakers运动鞋 (yun dong xie)

Accessories Keywords

ACCESSORY ITEMSCHINESE TRANSLATION
Necklaces项链 (xiang lian)
Bracelets手链 (shou lian)
Earrings耳环 (er huan)
Bangles手镯 (shou zhuo)
Hairbands发带 (fa dai)

Furniture Keywords

FURNITURE ITEMSCHINESE TRANSLATION
Bed床 (chuang)
Chair椅子 (yi zi)
Desk书桌 (shu zhuo)
Bookshelf书架 (shu jia)
Dresser梳妆台 (shu zhuang tai)
Nightstand床头柜 (chuang tou gui)

Home Accessories Keywords

FURNITURE ITEMSCHINESE TRANSLATION
Curtains窗帘 (chuang lian)
Cushions靠垫 (kao dian)
Wall Art墙艺 (qiang yi)
Rugs地毯 (di tan)
Vases花瓶 (hua ping)
Lamps灯 (deng)

Miscellaneous Keywords

MISCELLANEOUS ITEMSCHINESE TRANSLATION
Backpack背包 (bei bao)
Watch手表 (shou biao)
Sunglasses太阳镜 (tai yang jing)
Wallet钱包 (qian bao)
Belt皮带 (pi dai)
Hat帽子 (mao zi)

Additionally, you can try to mix and match these keywords to obtain your ideal search. For example, vintage study desk = 夏古书桌 (fu gu shu zhuo).

Using Taobao Image Search Feature

Taobao’s Image Search feature offers a quick, visual way to find products. Instead of typing keywords, you can upload a photo and let Taobao find similar items for you. 

This feature is especially handy when you have a specific look in mind but aren’t sure how to describe it in words.

Tips and Hacks

1. Narrowing your search results using filters

Use the following functions highlighted in the screenshot above to filter and narrow your search results further:

  • 销量 = Sales volume
  • 信用 = Credibility of seller
  • 价格 = Price range

2. Camera function

A handy function that not many users are aware of is this photo function just beside the search bar.

Simply click on the camera icon as shown and upload an image of the item you’re looking for from your phone (you have to use the app for this function!).

The system will then search for the closest possible results from the Taobao website, making your search much faster and more convenient.

3. Use the “找相似” function

Another useful function not known by many:

Use the “找相似” (zhao xiang si) function to search for similar or same products.

This allows you to explore more choices from different suppliers – you may be able to find a better deal, more reliable suppliers or nicer designs!

Tips to Overcome Language Barriers on Taobao

1. Use Browser Translation

If you’re shopping on a desktop, utilise Google Chrome’s built-in translation feature to navigate Taobao in English. Simply right-click an empty section of any page and select “Translate to English”.

2. Voice Search 

For those using Taobao’s mobile app, tap the microphone icon in the search bar. Simply say the name of the item you’re searching for in English, and it will be automatically searched for in Chinese.

STEP 3: HOW TO FIND RELIABLE TAOBAO SELLERS AND PRODUCTS

When shopping on a huge e-commerce site such as Taobao, it’s crucial that you conduct your own seller reputation checks to ensure that he/she is reliable and trustworthy.

This not only ensures that your product is exactly as described by the seller, but also means that your parcel will be shipped on time for you to receive it by the estimated arrival date.

Therefore, to ensure that you are indeed getting a bang for your buck, here are 3 main ways that you can do a quality check.

1. Check reviews of past purchases

Scrolling further down the product page will allow you to read the comments and feedback given by previous customers (累计评论; lei ji ping lun).

Feedback is essential in gauging the reliability and quality of the product that you’re about to purchase.

Hence, it is a good idea to let this section paint a picture of what to expect.
(P.S. Google Translate the reviews if you can’t read Chinese characters!)

BONUS TIP:

You can filter out reviews with pictures by clicking on “图片” (tu pian) to verify if the actual product is true to the illustrations that the seller has provided.

Seller-generated photos are usually edited to make the product look more flattering while buyer-generated photos will portray the true image.

2. Seller reputation check

Next, you can check the reputation of the seller. This can be done by looking at the sidebar as indicated below and focusing on 2 ratings.

(i) Checking the seller’s Taobao rating

Look for the seller’s 信誉 (xin yu; trust) rating symbolised by shapes. The hierarchy ranges from hearts for new sellers to diamonds, blue crowns, and the top tier gold crowns for the most reputable ones. A seller with multiple blue crowns, as shown in our example screenshot, is generally considered dependable and trustworthy.

(ii) Average ratings from customers

There are 3 ratings in total and these scales represent the:

a. accuracy of the product description (描述相符; miao shu xiang fu),
b. customer service (服务态度; fu wu tai du) and
c. logistics (物流服务; wu liu fu wu).

The rating scale is from 1 to 5, with 1 being the lowest and 5 being the highest.
A top-rated seller would have 5 gold crowns and average ratings of 5 across the 3 scales.

BONUS TIP:

A heart seller may not necessarily indicate that his products are low quality. It may just be that he’s new and has yet to establish himself as a reputable seller!

In such cases, the review section is your best friend.

3. Communicating with Taobao sellers

(a) Live chat function

To chat with sellers directly, click on the blue chat icon in the right-hand column. This live chat option is a great way to ask questions, clarify details, or negotiate prices. This is especially useful if you’re considering a bulk purchase where you might secure a better deal.

(b) Phone app

For on-the-go inquiries, the Taobao mobile app includes a live chat feature that can be easily accessed following the steps in our screenshot guide. This option allows you to quickly reach out to sellers for more information or to discuss specific details about a product, such as requesting actual photos or precise measurements.

Alternatively, Taobao’s dedicated chat app, 阿里旺旺 (Ali Wangwang), is also available for those who prefer a separate platform for communication. Both live chat options on the app and Ali Wangwang give you the flexibility to ensure the items meet your expectations before making a purchase.

When it comes to shipping, it’s wise to remind the seller about the importance of secure packaging. Suggest using appropriate materials and boxes for the safe transit of your goods, especially if they are fragile or heavy. After all, the right packaging can help prevent damage during the journey to your doorstep.

BONUS TIP:

Always add “加强包装” (jia qiang bao zhuang) in the comments section to request for sellers to cushion your package with extra protection.

After you’ve verified that your item is up to your expectations, it’s time to add it to your shopping cart.

STEP 4: CHECKING OUT ON TAOBAO

Similar to other online shopping platforms, the Taobao shopping cart allows you to review your selected items, adjust quantities, calculate the total cost, and checkout when you’re all set.

The checkout process on Taobao is user-friendly and allows you to carefully review and adjust your selections before making a purchase:

  1. Check the items in your shopping cart.
  2. Change the number of each item as needed.
  3. Choose which items you want to proceed to checkout with, if not all.
  4. You can also modify the size or color of the products in your cart.
  5. For new items, click the orange “加入购物车” (jia ru gou wu che) button.
  6. Once you’re ready, move forward with the checkout process.

BONUS TIP:

For desktop: click on “优惠卷” (you hui juan) to get coupons and vouchers that you can use to offset the price of your product if you meet the minimum spending requirement.

On Taobao’s mobile app, the checkout process is streamlined for your convenience. As you proceed to checkout (ling juan jie suan), the app automatically applies any available coupons to your purchase and displays the updated price, ensuring you always get the best deal.

STEP 5: HOW TO SELECT THE RIGHT TAOBAO SHIPPING

The next step is to key in your shipping details.

This includes your shipping address and shipping (or forwarding) agent which is the company that will be delivering your parcel to you.

  1. Enter the delivery address in the space provided where you want to receive your items. Don’t worry, you can easily add more addresses later for different shipping destinations.
  2. Fill in all necessary details on the form. If you need assistance, you can always refer to the English translations in our visual guides.
  1. After your address details are in place, select the most suitable shipping option for your order based on your needs.

Evaluating Taobao Shipping Options

Selecting the ideal Taobao shipping option is key to ensuring a seamless and gratifying purchase journey. Below, we explore a few popular shipping methods to help you decide which best suits your needs.

Direct delivery by sea (for bulky items)

Ideal for larger purchases such as furniture, this shipping method is tailored for those looking to move bulky items from Taobao to Singapore. It’s a straightforward choice for significant one-off items or full room sets that require the extra space only sea freight can provide.

Consolidated shipping by sea

For those who plan on buying numerous large items, Taobao’s sea freight consolidation service (官方集运) is a budget-friendly solution. It allows the assembly of various orders into one shipment at a warehouse, making it a smart pick for large, substantial hauls that are meant to arrive together.

Consolidated shipping by air

Air freight consolidation mirrors the sea option but is designed for those who need their items sooner. While typically more costly than sea freight, it’s faster, making it suitable for less bulky items or when time is of the essence.

BONUS TIP:

Consolidated shipping is often a two-step payment process. You first pay for the items and their initial shipping to the warehouse in China. After your items have been gathered, you’ll pay for the final shipment to Singapore.

Contact the seller to arrange your own Taobao shipping arrangements

Choosing to contact the seller directly for shipping allows the flexibility to use a Taobao agent. This service is perfect for buyers who prefer a streamlined shopping experience where the agent handles negotiation and communication with sellers, providing a no-fuss solution.

Each shipping method serves different priorities — be it size, speed, cost-efficiency, or convenience. 

When Should You Choose an External Freight Forwarding Service?

In-house Taobao forwarders like 4PX, PRouter, and Cainiao cover basic shipping. On the other hand, external Taobao forwarders like M&P International Freights offer extra perks to enhance your shopping experience.

These external services enhance your Taobao experience by:

  • Ensuring clarity: They facilitate straightforward communication in English.
  • Providing protection: You have the option to secure your goods with cargo insurance.
  • Streamlining shipments: Multiple purchases can be consolidated efficiently into a single delivery.

BONUS TIP:

Why M&P International Freights Stands Out:

Expert handling: Our specialists are adept at managing a vast range of items, assuring safe delivery of everything from delicate to bulky goods.

Cost-effective shipping: We leverage a broad network to offer optimised and economical shipping solutions tailored to your specific needs.

Personalised support: Our team offers dedicated assistance, keeping you well-informed at every stage of your shipment’s journey.

With M&P International Freights, you gain a partner that goes beyond basic delivery — providing a comprehensive service that prioritises your needs, ensuring a seamless transition from the Taobao marketplace to your doorstep.

Learn how to ship your Taobao purchases in our detailed guide!

STEP 6: HOW TO PAY ON TAOBAO

Once you have keyed in the necessary shipping details, you’ll have to make payment for your purchase to confirm the order.

Screenshot - Taobao credit card checkout page on desktop

After filling in your credit card details, click on “支付订单” (zhi fu ding dan) to confirm your payment.

When you checkout on the Taobao mobile app, you can access a wider range of payment options, including convenient choices like Apple Pay and Alipay.

It usually takes approximately 24 hours for the system to verify your credit card details if you’re an international buyer.

When the payment has been verified, your order will then be processed, and you’ll be able to track your order status.

STEP 7: HOW TO TRACK YOUR ORDERS ON TAOBAO

Once your order has been placed, you’ll be able to access the following tabs.

BONUS TIP:

Click on “查看物流” (cha kan wu liu) to check the current status of your order.

With that, you have completed your first purchase on Taobao!

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT HOW TO SHOP ON TAOBAO

Can you buy from Taobao in Singapore?

Yes, shopping from Taobao in Singapore is possible and gives you access to a wide variety of products and sellers. You can enjoy the full Taobao marketplace experience with options to buy directly.

The delivery time for items from Taobao to Singapore can differ widely. Generally, it spans from several days to a few weeks. This duration is usually dependent on the selected shipping method and how quickly the seller dispatches your order.

 

If you opt for expedited shipping, you’ll receive your items quickly. However, more cost-effective methods tend to have longer wait times. It’s important to note that bulky items typically require a longer timeframe for delivery, as they are transported exclusively by sea freight, which takes more time than air transport.

When ordering from Taobao to Singapore, be aware that certain items are restricted or completely prohibited from entry. This includes goods like chewing gum, e-cigarettes, controlled substances, firecrackers, and any material deemed obscene or pirated. 

 

For the most accurate and up-to-date information on prohibited items, it’s best to check the official Singapore Customs website.

Yes, you can process refunds on Taobao, although the specifics will vary based on the seller’s policy and your reasons for returning the item. Typically, you’re required to start the refund process within a set period, and the items should be in the condition they were received. If you find yourself needing to ship an item from Singapore to China, M&P International Freights offers reliable shipping solutions to facilitate your return.

 

For more details on returning an item from Singapore, watch for our upcoming article that will walk you through the steps.