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Navigating the shipping process from Taobao to Singapore can seem daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. Our comprehensive guide breaks down everything you need to know, from selecting the best shipping option to ensuring your goods arrive safely at your doorstep.

We’ll cover the ins and outs of direct shipping, the benefits of using external freight forwarders, and provide essential tips for a hassle-free delivery experience. Whether you’re a first-time buyer or a seasoned shopper, this guide is designed to streamline your Taobao shipping process. Read on!

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Options for Shipping From Taobao to Singapore

There are 3 methods of shipping from Taobao — Taobao’s existing forwarders, seller’s shipping, and external freight forwarders.

Option 1: Ship Directly From Taobao

Shipping directly from Taobao means that you’ll be using the delivery services of their existing forwarders such as 4PX, PRouter, and Cainiao. 

Cainiao, in particular, is Taobao’s preferred shipping partner. They offer shipping services for bulky items (30kg – 500kg) via sea freight and smaller items (up to 30kg) via air freight.

  • Consolidated shipping

Consolidated shipping on Taobao simplifies the international delivery process by bundling multiple purchases into one package. When you select this option, your items are sent to Taobao’s dedicated warehouse in China. There, your purchases are registered, grouped together, and repackaged for efficient shipment.

You have 2 shipping methods to choose from: air freight or sea freight. Air freight is quicker but comes with a higher cost. On the other hand, sea freight is a slower but more cost-effective option, especially if your consolidated package is large and heavy. The shipping fee is determined at the warehouse based on the final weight and size of your consolidated package.

Shipping typeUnit priceFirst unit cost (CN¥)Additional unit cost (CN¥)
Air freightper 0.5kg¥18 (~S$3.70)¥15 (~S$3.10)
Sea freightper 1kg¥21(~S$4.30)¥7.40 (~S$1.50)
  • Direct shipping

Direct shipping from Taobao offers an immediate dispatch of your purchases straight to your doorstep. Unlike consolidated shipping, where multiple items are combined at a warehouse before being sent as one package, direct shipping handles each purchase as an individual parcel. 

This method is particularly advantageous for smaller or lighter items that you wish to receive quickly. Direct shipping is available in both air and sea freight options.

Shipping typeUnit priceFirst unit cost (CN¥)Additional unit cost (CN¥)
Air freightper 0.5kg¥20 (~S$4.10)¥17 (~S$3.50)
Sea freight (up to 30kg)per kg¥27 (~S$5.90)¥14/kg*(~S$2.90)

*For packages weighing 10kg and above when using direct sea freight, the rate is set at CN¥14 per kg. For the most accurate and detailed pricing, customers should refer to the Taobao app, where they can find specific rates for different weight ranges of packages.

Advantages of Shipping Directly From Taobao

  • Hassle-free process

    Shipping directly from Taobao is a hassle-free option as you’re simply required to select your preferred Taobao shipping partner and make payment.

  • Reliable shipping

    Taobao closely monitors the efficiency of each forwarder based on customer ratings and those that underperform will be replaced with newer and more efficient ones. This ensures that your parcel will be in good hands.

Disadvantages of Shipping Directly From Taobao

  • Limited follow-up support

    Since you don’t have a dedicated shipper to follow up with closely, the Taobao shippers may take days to get back to you or not get back to you at all.

  • Language barrier

    Even if you manage to get hold of the Taobao shipper, most of these agents speak Mandarin and this may pose a language barrier for buyers who aren’t confident in communicating in Mandarin.

  • No cargo insurance

    While many buyers often think twice about getting insurance for their shipments as it isn’t compulsory, it’s recommended for items of high value as it allows you to get reimbursed in the event that your item is lost, damaged, or stolen. However, Taobao forwarders don’t provide cargo insurance.

Option 2: Seller’s Shipping

Seller’s shipping is a method where the buyer directly negotiates shipping arrangements with the Taobao seller. This personalised approach can lead to negotiated shipping costs that may benefit the buyer. However, it’s important to note that not all sellers offer this option, as some may not be equipped to handle international shipping or choose not to ship overseas.

Advantages of Choosing Seller’s Shipping

  • Shipping costs can be negotiated

    Since there aren’t fixed shipping rates, direct negotiations with sellers can lead to better shipping rates, tailored to the specifics of your order.

Disadvantages of Choosing Seller’s Shipping

  • Language barrier

    Effective communication with sellers requires a good command of Mandarin, which can be a big obstacle, especially for those who do not speak the language fluently.

Option 3: Shipping via an External Freight Forwarder

Large cargo ship carrying shipping containers

Shipping via an external freight forwarder means that you’ll be engaging your own international Taobao forwarder to assist you. 

When it comes to shipping purchases from Taobao, especially bulky items like furniture or home appliances, external freight forwarders are often the go-to solution for many shoppers. These professionals provide a range of services to ensure your items are transported efficiently and safely from the seller to your doorstep, regardless of size or volume.

  • Sea freight

Sea freight is the preferred method for shipping large and heavy items due to its cost-effectiveness compared to air freight. With external freight forwarders like M&P International Freights, you typically have 2 options for sea freight: Less Than Container Load and Full Container Load.

This is ideal for shipments that don’t require the full space of a container. You pay only for the space your items occupy while sharing the container with other shipments. LCL is the ideal choice for smaller shipments that exceed the size and weight limitations of air freight.

FCL is suitable when you have enough items to fill a whole container or when you prefer not to share the space with other shipments. While more expensive upfront than LCL, FCL can be more cost-efficient for shipping in bulk or for delicate items that require specific handling and space.

  • Air freight

Air freight is another service offered by external freight forwarders. It’s ideal for smaller, lighter goods that need to be transported quickly, such as clothing, shoes, or accessories. Though faster, air freight comes at a premium compared to sea freight.

Advantages of Shipping via an External Freight Forwarder

  • Ease of communication

    Unlike Taobao’s direct shippers, you’ll be able to communicate with freight forwarders in English. Additionally, the freight forwarder will constantly be in contact with you throughout the entire shipping process. This facilitates communication and offers greater peace of mind.

  • Cargo insurance

    Freight forwarders typically offer the option of cargo insurance to safeguard your shipments against damage, thefts or losses. While the claiming process may take some time, having a reimbursement is a more favourable outcome as compared to losing your money and furniture altogether.

  • Repackaging and consolidation of goods

    If you’re purchasing multiple items from different suppliers, freight forwarders allow you to repackage and consolidate your items so you can enjoy the most cost-effective rates possible. Additionally, you can store your goods in their appointed warehouse until all your goods have arrived for shipping.

Disadvantages of Shipping via an External Freight Forwarder

  • Extensive research required

    When engaging an external freight forwarder, you’re likely to be spoilt for choice with the number of forwarding companies available in the market. Thus, you might have to do some research to identify which freight forwarder offers the best shipping rates and the best service quality.

  • Extended shipping times

    Shipping via an external freight forwarder may require a longer shipping time as compared to shipping via Taobao’s existing forwarders. On average, freight forwarders may take up to 3 weeks to deliver your cargo whereas Taobao’s forwarders may take up to 2 weeks.

Shipping Process From Taobao to Singapore With an External Freight Forwarder

Shipping With An External Freight Forwarder

If you’ve chosen to ship via an external freight forwarder, this is the general process of engaging a freight forwarding company for your Taobao shipment.

  • Step 1: Purchase item

    After selecting and checking out the items from your chosen seller on Taobao, the next steps will involve preparing for your shipment to Singapore.

  • Step 2: Contact An External Freight Forwarder

    After the order has been confirmed, proceed to contact your chosen freight forwarder and provide them with a packing list of the items that you’ve purchased, together with the contact details of the Taobao supplier.

  • Step 3: Pick-up of Items from Suppliers

    Next, you can take a step back while your freight forwarder steps in to contact all the suppliers and make arrangements to pick up the items you’ve ordered.

  • Step 4: Item Verification

    Photos of your items will be taken upon pick up and sent to you for verification purposes. Upon confirmation, you can opt for your shipping method of choice.

  • Step 5: Choose your Shipping Method

    Depending on the weight of your goods, you may have to opt for air freight (for lighter goods) or sea freight (for heavier or more bulky goods). The former is typically more expensive but faster, while the latter is often cheaper but takes a longer time to arrive at your destination.

  • Step 6: Secure Your Goods with Insurance

    Opting for shipping insurance is an important step, particularly when dealing with valuable items. Typically, your external freight forwarder can facilitate the purchase of this insurance on your behalf. Once you’ve selected your preferred shipping method and secured insurance for your goods, the forwarder will proceed with the shipment.

  • Step 7: Shipment of Goods

    After choosing your shipping method, your items will be shipped to Singapore. The freight forwarder will manage the process, ensuring safe transit to your address.

Tips to Choose the Right Freight Forwarder

Now that you’re aware of how simple it is to engage an external freight forwarder to ship your Taobao loots, here are some factors you may want to consider before choosing a forwarder:

  • Identify your Shipping Requirements

    Identifying your shipping requirements is a crucial first step in narrowing down your choice of freight forwarders. You’ll need to understand the nature of your items, their country of origin, and your preferred shipping methods. For instance, specialised goods like fragile items or bulky furniture require a forwarder with specific expertise in these areas, just like M&P International Freights

    Additionally, a forwarder’s strong global network and expertise in the country of origin ensure efficient navigation through export procedures and regulations, promising a smoother delivery of your purchases from Taobao to your doorstep in Singapore.

  • Evaluate Reviews and Ratings

    Another thing to look out for is the reviews and feedback that the forwarder has gotten from past customers. This serves as an indication of the quality of service that the company is able to provide you with.

    Some platforms where you can get these reviews would be Google, Facebook, forums, and reliable sites like Smart Singa. If a company has recent reviews with detailed descriptions of the customers’ experiences, it is more likely that they are trustworthy and worth your consideration.

  • Assess Reasonable Quotation

    Cost is another factor to consider as ideally, you would want to save on shipping costs. It is always wise to request a few quotations from different companies and compare them before deciding on the forwarder you wish to engage.

Frequently Asked Questions About Taobao Shipping to Singapore

Shipping durations from Taobao to Singapore will vary depending on the method of shipping. Air freight typically delivers within a week to 10 working days, while sea freight may take up to 3 weeks. The duration also depends on whether you use Taobao’s in-house services or an external freight forwarder.

For bulky items, Taobao’s Cainiao offers sea freight with specific limits on weight and dimensions. If your items exceed these limits, external freight forwarders are an ideal alternative. They offer personalised options like LCL or FCL, providing you with potential cost-savings.

The best shipping method depends on your needs. If you prioritise speed, direct shipping or air freight might be more suitable. For cost efficiency, especially with bulky items, you can consider sea freight or engaging an external freight forwarder.

Navigating Taobao’s vast marketplace can be daunting if you do not speak fluent Mandarin. The Google Translate feature in Chrome browsers offers a workaround, but for a more comprehensive guide, check out our guide on how to shop on Taobao.

For those who need additional support, particularly when it comes to shipping, this is where M&P International Freights steps in. We’re here to streamline your shipping process from Taobao, taking the stress out of communication and logistics for customers.

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