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How To Shop On Taobao In English
Ahh…Taobao. The best place to find good deals on everything from clothes to household items – BUT only if you can figure out how to process your order (Alipay Y U so complicated??).
Browsing on Taobao is fairly easy, but trying to pay for your order and somehow get it safely to Singapore? Not quite as easy. This is because:
- Navigating a Chinese site is really confusing, to say the least. Especially if your Chinese is um, less than spectacular.
- You have to use Alipay to pay for your order on Taobao.com, which is SO CONFUSING. There are multiple passwords, the helpline is not that great (if you can’t speak fluent Chinese) and sometimes you get weird problems cropping up with international phone numbers and credit cards (i.e. you get locked out of your account for no fathomable reason).
Well, it seems the shopping gods have heard us, because there’s a much easier way to shop on Taobao from Singapore.
SGshop is a Taobao agent for customers in Singapore. They’re basically an English concierge service that helps you buy what you want from Taobao, so you don’t have to deal with the tricky payment/checkout process on Taobao, or dodgy sellers who send you the wrong items.
In a nutshell, SGshop offers you:
- An English interface to shop on Taobao. (Trust us, this makes processing your order MUCH easier.)
- Local payment methods (i.e. Credit Card, eNETS) so you don’t have to use Alipay at all. This just might be the best thing ever because as much as we love Taobao, Alipay has caused us one too many headaches.
- Less risk of getting wrong/missing/broken items because SGshop’s team in China will check all items before sending them to Singapore.
- An English customer service line.
What exactly is SGshop?
SGshop is a Taobao agent in Singapore that helps you buy items from Taobao (and other Chinese sites like TMALL and JD.com). You can search for items through their site, but we recommend browsing on Taobao itself then copying and pasting the direct link on SGshop’s site (for more accurate prices). When you paste the link in SGshop’s search bar, the site will translate the listing into English (Some of the translations are a bit strange, but it’s still easier to read than the original Taobao listing in Chinese).
Is it easy to use SGshop to shop on Taobao?
Compared to the enigma that is Taobao.com…YES. Seriously guys, it’s sooo much easier.
After you’ve decided what items to get, you just need to pay for your order through the SGshop site. The process is fairly straightforward – select the items you want to pay for (and the international shipping method), and you’ll be directed to a payment page to pay for your items and China shipping fee (from the seller to the China warehouse).
You can pay by Credit Card, eNETs or PayPal, but eNETs probably has the best rate for big purchases (you’ll need your iBanking token though).
What’s the shopping process like?
After your payment has been approved, SGShop will then purchase the items from the sellers on your behalf, and arrange for delivery to their warehouse in China. Once the items have arrived in their China warehouse, their staff there will check to see that the items match your order, and that they’re not damaged.
So when do I get my items?
You can easily track the status of your package through your SGshop account. After your package has been checked and packed, SGshop’s China warehouse will then send it to Singapore.
There are several different international shipping options available, but we recommend the Economy Air option. The prices are quite reasonable and you get your package in about 10 – 14 days (from the date you placed your order with SGshop).
Once the package reaches Singapore, SGshop will send you an SMS notification. You’ll then need to log on to your account to pay for the international shipping fee and agent fee. You can opt for self-collection (at the SGshop warehouse in Tai Seng, or at selected MRT stations) or home delivery.
What are the fees like?
OK down to the real stuff. As with shopping directly from Taobao, there are two payments to make to complete your order.
First Payment – Made when placing your order
Item Fee + Shipping Fee to China Warehouse + Transaction Fee
Second Payment – Made when your items have arrived at SGshop’s China warehouse
Shipping Fee to Singapore Warehouse + Agent Fee + Clearance Fee + Home Delivery Fee (Optional)
Whew, looks overwhelming doesn’t it? We thought so too, so we took the liberty of comparing a purchase made directly from Taobao with a purchase made through SGshop.
So you’re actually paying a couple of dollars more, for a much easier way to shop on Taobao. Also, for some reason SGshop’s parcel arrived looking much um, cleaner. The one we bought directly from Taobao was kind of…dusty.
So why should I use SGshop? It’s cheaper to order directly from Taobao right?
Yes, but a couple of dollars is a small price to pay for an easier shopping experience and peace of mind. Seriously guys, it just might be the best few dollars you’ll ever spend. Here’s why:
SGshop will check your package for you
As mentioned previously, SGshop’s China warehouse inspects your package before shipping it to Singapore. Their team in China will check that the items match up to your order (colour, size, style) and that there are no visible defects or missing items.
SGshop will deal with problematic orders for you
If there are any problems with your order (i.e. wrong item/size or missing item), SGshop’s team will contact the seller for you (and presumably whoop their butts for sending you the wrong item). So in a way, it’s like having a friend there in China to help you. Except you pay them a small fee for their time. But nothing is free in this world, young Padawan.
Oh, and have we mentioned how SGshop also liaises with the seller for you? Um, is this not the most helpful thing ever? No more trying to type in broken Chinese, or feeling helpless when sellers send you the wrong items.
SGshop has an English helpline
Because there is nothing worse than trying to get help from someone who doesn’t understand what you’re saying, and is thousands of miles away to boot. With SGshop’s English helpline, you can easily get help without having to resort to Google Translate.
How long does it take for me to receive my items?
Depending on how fast the seller ships your item, it takes about 3 – 5 days for the package to arrive at the China warehouse. From there, it’ll take about 3 – 4 days to arrive in Singapore (depending on which shipping method you selected). If you opt for home delivery, it’ll take about 1 – 3 days to get to your house. So in total, it will take about 2 weeks or so – which is more or less the same as ordering directly from Taobao.
In the spirit of Christmas, Jessica (@tippytapp) has picked out 2 sets of gifts to give our readers. To win one of these gift sets, all you have to do is leave a comment below with a registered Facebook account or email us (if your Facebook account is private). Tell us which gift set (A or B) you’d like to win, and why.
Winners will be contacted via Facebook private message/Email, and announced on this page as well. Contest closes Monday, 17 November 2014 at 12pm. (Edit: The winners of the giveaway are Yih Fang Heng (Set A) and Julie Tan (Set B). Check your inbox for details!)
Gift Set A
2 Christmas-themed pillows and 2 boxes of assorted Christmas Cards.
Gift Set B
4-piece Dining Set, including a cute jar with a reindeer lid.
Got any fashion-related questions for Jessica? Email us or leave a comment below. For more of Jessica, follow her on Instagram or check out her blog. Check out other fashion articles from her Fashion FAQs column here.
This article is brought to you by SGshop.