Buying Furniture On Taobao (+ Tippytapp’s House Tour)

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Buying Furniture On Taobao

You probably already know how amazing Taobao is (if you don’t, then read on and you shall be convinced). However, most people tend to buy cheaper items like clothes and accessories, because let’s face it – what if that Taobao couch you ordered arrives in the wrong colour? Or *gasp* with obiang patterns that weren’t shown in the photos? Returning items on Taobao is not exactly a breeze, if you know what I mean.

Before you give up on your Taobao home decor dreams though, there just might be a simple solution to your shopping woes. Singapore-based forwarding agents such as SGShop allow you to buy big ticket items from Taobao with less risk and trouble.

Living-Room

When it comes to buying furniture on Taobao, there are a few things to take note of. Firstly, Taobao’s appointed forwarders (such as 4PX and PRouter) have a limit to the size and weight of packages they can ship to Singapore – 1 metre x 1 metre x 1 metre and 30kg. So yes, you’re not going to be able to buy a bed direct from Taobao (unless you have a really kind and helpful friend in China, I suppose).

Secondly, certain items (i.e. LED ceiling lights) apparently can’t be bought directly through Taobao – but you can do so through an agent. I don’t know why this is so but yeah, it’s tricky business.

Lastly, returning items on Taobao and/or getting a refund is a real pain so always do your homework before buying. Chat with the seller to confirm if an item is in stock, and in the case of large items, you might also want to check on the exact weight and size of the item (so you calculate your shipping fees). Sure, it’s a bit more trouble, but hey nobody ever said that life was easy you know?

Jessica-Kitchen

The best way to deal with potential problems is to just use a Taobao agent. I know what you’re thinking – an agent? For what? No need! I can buy directly from Taobao! That’s what Google Translate is for!

Now now, before you order that dream couch on Taobao, listen up to what we have to say here. Buying furniture on Taobao through an agent like SGShop is SO much easier – it will save you time, stress and having to converse with sellers in broken Chinese (you know it).

Hallway-Table

SGShop has two types of services for Taobao shoppers:

1. Buy For Me

This is where SGShop basically does everything for you. All you have to do is enter the Taobao links of the items you want to buy, pay with a Singapore credit card or PayPal, and SGShop will do the rest. Think of it as having a friend help you buy the items, then sending them to your doorstep. Except for a reasonable fee, I guess.

This option is good for:

  • Taobao noobs, or if you can’t really read Chinese.
  • Big ticket items like furniture or speakers, which you want to ensure are as ordered and in working condition. Because it would suck if you shipped a couch all the way to Singapore, only to find that a part of it is missing no?
  • Restricted items like LED lights.
  • Bulky items that are too big and heavy for Taobao’s appointed forwarders.

Cost varies based on the value, weight and dimensions of your package, but you can use this handy Cost Estimation Tool (click on the Buy For Me tab) to get a good gauge of the fees. FYI do not be alarmed if the calculated price seems way higher than you expected – the estimate includes the actual price of your item as well.

Benefits

  • Easier shopping experience: The ‘Buy For Me’ option is basically like having someone do all the nitty gritty stuff for you, so you don’t have to navigate the abyss that is Taobao.com. You can also search for items on Taobao through SGShop’s English site.
  • Local payment: You won’t need an Alipay account (oh lawddd hallelujah!), as you can use your local credit card or PayPal to pay for your order through SGShop.
  • Free inspection: SGShop will inspect your item in their China warehouse to ensure that it is the right colour, design and quantity. They will also check for obvious visual defects. They don’t inspect for authenticity though, so check the reviews before buying.
  • Refunds and Exchanges: If your item is wrong or defective, SGShop will seek a refund or exchange on your behalf from the Taobao seller.
  • Economical Shipping: SGShop’s warehouse in China will consolidate and repack your packages in the most economical way possible to help you save on shipping fees. This is especially helpful when you’re buying bulky or heavy items.
  • Compensation for lost or damaged items: If your package gets lost or damaged during shipping, you will be compensated up to a value of 100SGD. You can also opt to purchase insurance for your parcel, which covers the full cost of the item, as well as shipping and agent fees. SGShop’s insurance is 5% of the total value of your items.

Full-Mantle-2

2. Ship For Me

This is where you do the actual buying on Taobao, but use SGShop‘s forwarding service to consolidate and send your parcels to Singapore. When you submit your order on Taobao.com, enter SGShop’s China warehouse address as the delivery address.

After doing so, go to SGShop‘s Ship For Me page and submit your order details. Once all your parcels have arrived at SGShop‘s China warehouse, you can log into your SGShop account to pay for the shipping fee to Singapore.

This option is good for:

  • Taobao shopaholics who are already familiar with how to work the site.
  • Shipping bulky items that are too big and heavy for Taobao’s appointed forwarders.
  • Cheapskates (just kidding)

Again, use the Cost Estimation Tool (click on the Ship For Me tab) to get an estimate of your shipping fees.

Benefits

  • Economical Shipping: SGShop offers a few economical options for bulky purchases, such as their Economy Sea option which starts from $0.90 per 500g and takes about 12 to 16 days.
  • Inspection service for a nominal fee: For $3, you can opt to have SGShop inspect your items for obvious defects and check that they are the right colour, size and model as ordered. You can also opt to have photos of your package sent to you for an additional $3.
  • Compensation for lost or damaged items: If your package gets lost or damaged during shipping, you will be compensated up to a value of 100 SGD. You can also opt to purchase insurance for your parcel, which covers the full cost of the item, as well as shipping and agent fees. SGShop’s insurance is 5% of the total value of your items.

Still not convinced? We get blogger and shopping pro Jessica Tham (@tippytapp) to show us her Taobao home buys.

 

Tippytapp’s Home Tour (+ a Giveaway!)

Jessica-Pillows

Jessica Tham (@tippytapp) is a self-confessed Taobao shopaholic. “I would build an entire Taobao home if I could,” she says earnestly. Somehow, we wouldn’t be surprised if she did. After all, if there’s one person who can find the cutest stuff on Taobao – be it clothes, home decorations or even a washing powder tin (scroll down, it’s super cute) – it’s Jessica.

OK, tell us your secret – how did you find all these Pinterest-worthy home items on Taobao?

I usually browse on Pinterest to get inspiration, then I’ll use descriptive search terms to try and find items that suit the theme. You can use Google Translate to translate the phrases, but some things are phrased differently in Chinese. For instance, if you’re looking for a Scandinavian-style lamp, it’s better to phrase it as ‘modern standing lamp’ in Chinese, instead of the direct Chinese translation of ‘Scandinavian lamp’.

(Editor’s note: You can also use Taobao’s photo search function to upload a photo of an item you’re looking for. More about that here, under #4.)

Useful Search Terms

Home Decoration 家居装饰
Scandinavian style 北欧现代 (Scandinavian modern)
Striped Carpet 条纹地毯
Scandinavian Modern Lamp 北欧现代 灯
Floor Lamp 现代客厅落地灯

PillowsAssorted Pillows (Buy them here)

Full-Mantle

MantleDecorative Deer Statue (Buy it here)

How much cheaper are home items on Taobao, as compared to stores here?

I got my LED lights from Taobao and even with the shipping and agent fees, they were still about one-third the price of some of the stores I checked out here. The items I ordered were mostly true to the photos, and so far they seem to be holding up well so I didn’t have any issues with the quality.

Clock

LED Lights Compiled

LED-Lights 1LED Lights and Lighting Track (Buy them here and here)

Kitchen

How long does shipping furniture usually take with a Taobao agent?

I opted for sea shipping because it was the most economical, and it took about 14 – 18 working days to arrive. If you want to get a better idea of the actual shipping cost, check with the seller on the actual weight and dimensions of the item before buying. You should also check if the item is in stock, or a made-to-order one.

Kitchen-Shelves-2

Mason-JarsMason Jars (Buy them here)

Kitchen Compiled

Ceramic-JarsCookie Jars (Buy them here)

Salt-and-Pepper-Shakers

Pasta-JarsPasta Jars (Buy them here)

What is the general process of getting your home ready like?

Once we got the keys, we looked around for an interior designer. We gave the interior designer a rough idea of the look and feel we wanted, and she did some mock-ups for us to look at. After we tweaked some things, the interior designer then worked with the contractors to create our desired plans. As for furniture and decorations – I got most of them from HomesToLife, Crate and Barrel, Courts and of course, Taobao!

Washing-PowderWashing Powder Container (Buy it here) 

LampStanding Lamp (Buy it here)

Bird-LampHanging Lamp (Buy it here)

What are some shopping tips for Taobao newbies?

Always check the seller ratings and reviews (if any). Sometimes Taobao has multiple sellers offering the same item, so you want to pick the seller that has both a good price and ratings.

Jessica-Bedroom

Ladder In Room CompiledWhite Ladder (Buy it here)

Bedroom-Mantle-2

Bedroom 1

Check out Jessica’s Walk-in Wardrobe Tour here.

 

Giveaway (CLOSED)

Want to win some cool home decor stuff? Jessica has picked out 2 sets of items to give away! To win either Set A or Set B, leave a comment below with a registered Facebook account, and tell us which set you want to win and why.

Giveaway closes on 16 October 2015 at 11pm. The 2 winners will be contacted via Facebook private message during the week of 19 October 2015. (EDIT: The winners of this giveaway are Cynthia B Lin (Set A) and Phoebe AvEmaria (Set B). Please check your Facebook message inbox for details.)

Set A

Includes all of the following items:

1. Laundry HampersSet A Taobao Hampers(Item info here.)

2. Sauce DispensersSet A Taobao Dispensers(Item info here.)

3. ContainersSet A Taobao Containers(Item info here.)

Set B

Includes all of the following items:

1. Decorative Glass ContainersSet B Taobao Glass Jar(Item info here and here.)

2. Metal BasketSet B Taobao Metal Basket(Item info here.)

3. Decorative Branches (for hanging accessories)Set B Taobao Branches(Item info here.)

4. Rabbit Lamp (comes with corresponding light bulb)Set B Taobao Rabbit Lamp(Item info here.)

SGShop Discount Code

Need an excuse to start shopping on Taobao? Register for an SGShop account using the code SCENE to get 4SGD shopping credit. You can use the credit to offset an item’s price during your first purchase.

This article is brought to you by SGShop.

 

Still want more? Check out these other articles:

How To Shop On Taobao In English

Tippytapp’s Walk-in Wardrobe

Top 10 HDB Homes That Look Bigger Than They Really Are

Taobao Hacks You Need To Know

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59 Responses

  1. I would love to win Set B as I’ve been dying for a room makeover since the impending mess in my room got bigger!

  2. Hello Jessica !

    I have to be honest, this is the first time I’m reading your blog. And I’m definitely coming back for more!

    The title of this post caught my eye, because my partner and I just bought a BTO. I was telling him I’m going to learn how to use tabao because I have heard of how wonderful that website is😅😁

    Hope to win Set B, because it fits the theme of my new home, and thanks for the tips on using tabao. Definitely important for a tabao noob like myself😂

    Thank you!

    Clara

  3. I would like to win set B, because they are really too pretty and this post gave me more encouragement to try online shopping on Taobao!

    Thank you

  4. Hi Scene.sg and Jessica (@Tippytapp)

    I really love to read the articles at scene.sg because it is interesting and it is usually information that I would like to know more about in my daily life. Like for example the snapchat hacks and best snacks we can find in supermarkets.

    I’ve been following @tippytapp Instagram and I really love her new house design and how she always look so stylish and fashionable.

    I hope to win Set B because all of the items are black that matches my new BTO flat theme. The items are so pretty. And I’ve been using Sgshop to ship my taobao buys too! Because I love their buy for me method! So easy and fuss free.

    Thank you!

  5. Hi Jessica,

    My new house is coming and I hope to win Set A as its suit my theme. Thanks for all your advice for the taobao shopping. I have just started looking around and start buying new stuffs for my new house. Hope that my dream house will fulfill.

  6. would like to win set A for my newly renovated room 🙂

  7. Hi!

    Lovely post! Wld love to win set A.

    Thank you!

  8. Hi, I would like to win set B! My wife and I just got our new house and will begin renovation this coming week. Our theme and ideas for our house is almost exactly like yours.

    And true enough, after reading this article, I’m amazed with such a e-shop is happening online! *sorry, I’m abit behind time on all these stuff as I’m a military officer, and I’m bounded in camps and trainings

    However, after looking and reading at e article, my wife and I will surly look more into tabao and of course, love the set B as it not only fit into my theme, it also triggers some ideas of decorating my new home.

    Jessica, thanks for the sharing again!

  9. Would love to win set A to refurbish my kitchen and make doing the laundry happier!

  10. I would love to win for myself a set A (actually I’m happy to win any set) as I’ll be getting my new home soon and Jessica’s impeccable taste in both fashion and furnishing makes her my ultimate walking pinterest to follow!

  11. I would like to win set A! In the midst of my Reno currently with the Scandinavian theme like yours. It’ll be wonderful to be able to add some warmth with the items you have for my new nest with my husband.

  12. *continued from the last message

    I’m glad to have chanced upon scene.sg as my husband and I have been looking at Tao Bao but hesitating as we are not familiar with the site. With Sg shop, everything will be so much convenient and safe now! Thanks for the introduction!

  13. Hi there!

    I would pick set B! I love love love the items from set B and it would definitely fit into my new home’s theme.. I am already thinking of how the items would be placed already. Hope I could win these so that I could fill the empty spaces in my home. 💘 💘 💘

  14. Hi Jessica….
    It’s awesome what you have done with your home. It’s exactly the style that we will be doing too, just more cat friendly.
    Anyways, I would love to win Set B.

    Reason:
    The bunny is the cutest thing ever. All the items in set B will go really well with my wedding theme and later on be use in our bto.

    Thanks!

    Xoxo

  15. Hi,

    I would like to win set A.

    Awesome for sharing tips on buying from taobao as well as agents. Insightfull post

    Cheers. 😀

  16. I would love to win set B for my upcoming BTO flat! Jessica has been sharing quite a few articles on Taobao and it really did help me to start getting things there!! Thank you for sharing those tips 😀

  17. hi SGShop! Hope to win set B! The choices of items by jessica is awesome! Also, the idea of both shop for me and ship for me is great!! We can then have the option of whether to buy from taobao direct and get SGShop to ship, or in cases where it is pricier item where we want to assertain any damages to the goods, the Shop for me will be a great option! Looking forward to starting to use SGShop! (:

  18. Set B! I’m in the middle of a revamp on my place right now and set B would definitely enhance the look and design on the entire place! I can already imagine where the items from set B would fit in nicely and awesomely at..

  19. Hi! Great post on Taobao finds! I’ve always bought only clothes and accessories from Taobao, but this post just showed me how much I’m missing out on!😂
    I would love to win Set B to organise all the accessories I have, and to add a modern touch to my room that is beginning to look ancient haha.
    Thanks for the post and giveaway!❤️

  20. Hello Jessica! I would love to win Set B! I have always wanted to shop on Taobao but have difficulty doing so due to my poor command of Chinese language. I am inspired by your beautiful home and hope to be able to start Taobao shopping soon with the help of an agent. 🙂

  21. Hi Jessica,

    Hope to win set A!! I want to give my flour, salt and sauce a new home! Keep my finger cross. Lovely containers will motivate me to cook more often. 😜

    Thanks for the giveaway.

  22. Set A! I just got the keys for my BTO and will be starting the renovation soon. We are going for Scandinavian feel (white/light brown) so Set A will totally fit into our theme!

  23. Hihi, Im a big fan of Jessica’s style and fashion sense. I love the interior of her new home so much 🙂 would like to win set B so I can create a gorgeous lil space of my own too! 😊 thank u guys!

  24. I would like to win set A, because the designs are very unique to have at one’s home! It would add some difference to the usual household items one would have.

    Thank you!

  25. Hi tippytapp! I’m also a fequent buyer from Taobao because their stuffs are amazing and cheap!! But I always find their shipping ex as I use their courier service and didn’t believe shipping through agent. I thought agent would charge a fee and making it more ex! I will try out soon with your intro to SG shop! – I want Set B! 💋🅱

    Thank you le la!!

  26. Creating a dream home takes time and a lot of effort to bring all ideas into reality.
    But with my love ones by my side and those wonderful tips, I’m excited to re-create the details that will transform the cold concrete box into a comfort welcoming place for my families and friends. Thank U.
    -Set B.

  27. I would love to win Set B! I’ve been an avid reader and follower of Jessica since way before her wedding. Seeing her house preparation and decoration coming to a completion, I feel so aspired to start searching inspiration for my upcoming house now! Set B giveaway items complement with the style I’m looking for – B&W, modern, simplistic, Scandinivian. Please let me win this giveaway so I can add these gorgeous items into my future house decoration and help me be one step closer to a Pinterest-worthy home.

  28. Hello! This is such a a great post! I think everyone needs to know how amazing taobao is!!! I am am interior designer, and am currently renovating my own house. But… Whenever I tell my colleagues i shop for stuffs from taobao, they starts judging me. But hello!!! Our clients are rich, but not me!!! Hahaha

    I love the accessories in set B, and I hope I can get a chance to win them, to prove my colleagues wrong =D And whether or not I win them, thank you so much for the post! 🙂

  29. Set B as I think my brother would really love it for his house with his minimalist theme. (:

  30. Omg. Set A has so lovely organisational stuff! Set B has that Oh-My-Gawd so pretty rabbit lamp!!!!!
    And since I can’t be greedy and only can choose 1, I would choose Set A as I’m in need of those organisational stuff!!
    Thank you for the opportunity; and your very pretty ideas in your post! The way of how sgshop can help me buy wonderful products from a website which I can hardly read it’s stuff is so much of a help! 🙂
    Thank you Jessica & SGShop !:D

  31. Hello! I would like to win Set B because my new house is coming in 2 months time and I’m planning to taobao my whole house too! I’ve done direct shipping before and it’s really a chore so with all these big items, I’ve decided to trust my money with SGShop!

  32. Set B is the set for me! Black, chic, even comes with Mr. mysterious cool Rabbit!

    I’ve fiddled with the idea of Taobao for a while but always gotten a friend to make my purchases cos of my struggle to converse with the TB sellers (Do I have to call them 亲 as well?). And you’re right, big ticket items I’d always hesitate but it’s really timely to have read this article cos I’ve been lucky enough to have been promoted to homeowner, and knowing bout SGShop is gonna rescue me from a) TB abyss and b) financial turmoil.

    This was helpful as it is and winning Mr. Rabbit is gonna be a bonus! Have a good and happy life!

  33. set B pls. upsize if avail :). the glass containers are great for mini planting. rabbit desk lamp for a rabbit born lucky star why not lol wink .

  34. Hello!

    I would love to organize my kitchen with set A. My kitchen is always in a mess with dirty laundry lying near the washing machines. And it doesn’t help when my condiments and spices are tied with rubber bands and usually hidden away in the big cupboard compartment.

  35. I would love to win set B! i can already imagine how pretty my dressing table would look with all my acessories stylishly organised!and its in the most classic and my favorite color black,now who says black is boring?

  36. I would love to win set B!i can already imagine how pretty my dressing table will look with all my acessories stylishly organised,and its all in the most classic and my favorite color,black!now,who says black is boring?its fun and lovely!

  37. I would really really love to win Set B! 🙂
    I’ve started university for 2 months and have been staying in my school hostel every weekday. If I’m able to come home on the weekends to such beautiful decorations such as this, it would make my weekends so much more better!! 🙂 Xx
    P.s. schools halls are not beautiful at all D:

  38. I would like to win Set A because my house will be ready for collection soon and I would love to have a white themed house. Those furniture suit my theme!🙋🏻🙋🏻

  39. Hello scene.sg!

    I would love to win Set B because I love Jessica’s style when it comes to fashion and home decor. Even though my room currently needs no redecorating and neither am I moving into a new place anytime soon, I’m planning to collect some small-sized furniture for the future when my boyfriend (and husband-to-be) and I move in together!

    We are just waiting for us to become more stable financially before we jump into owning a place together. It would be great if I won and I’d be able to make my first step into designing my future home with my boyfriend 😉

  40. Hello! I would love to win set B as I want to give my room a makeover and these items will make such great decorations! 😀

    After reading this post, I’ll want to use SGShop to buy stuff from Taobao as the purchasing process on Taobao’s website is really quite tedious. This makes my life so much better. Thanks for this post!

  41. Hi thanks for all the sharings! This post certainly helped me a lot in terms of buying stuff from Taobao!

    I would LOVE to win set B as the designs are really what I wanted to have in my room!!! 😍

  42. In the midst of reno-woes right now and will be thinking of home decorations soon.

    Set B would be a perfect fit for our new home.

  43. Hi Jessica,

    I would love to win set B’s lamp and decorative branches for my daughter when we get our new house and containers and basket for myself!

    Trying to get about taobao for th first time, hoping to get use to it soon! Thanks for giving this chance to win some decorative stuff!

  44. hi hi, I’ve bookmarked this page cuz all the interior design in here looks just like my dream Scandinavian home😍 all that white and wood✨ hehe thanks for teaching us how to shop on taobao because everything is so expensive in the normal stores. if I could, I would love to win set B, the rabbit lamp and the geometric containers are just possibly the prettiest things I would have in my house 🙂

  45. I would like to win set A because all the items looks chic with simple design and clean lines! they will brighten up any corner and I will be happier tossing my clothes into those laundry baskets!

  46. I wish to win Set B please. I just gotten my keys 2 months back and would definitely appreciate a few items specially picked by Jessica to add artsy touch to my own place. Thanks!

  47. Hello there! Set A for our household so that we can touch-it-feel-it-try-it before we are convinced to start making subsequent purchases! Laundry hampers are perfect to separate the OL’s delicate apparel from her ruggard husband’s soiled army uniforms. Our balsamic vinegar and olive oil will welcome a new home and the containers will add sophistication and warmth to our otherwise boring kitchen. Thank you!

  48. please please give me “set b”. My sister is born in the year of rabbit & she is getting the key to her new house soon. The rabbit lamp is the perfect gift that i would like to give it to her , bringing light & warmth to her & her family.

  49. I would love winning Set A as they are simple and useful.I just gotten my flat and these goodies are sure of good use!

  50. I would like to win Set B as all items are in black theme and the items are unique, suitable for my new house.
    Informative article, well written with links too. Thanks for sharing!!

    Cheers!!

  51. I would love to win Set B as I got my house keys 3 months ago and still have not finish doing it up. These few items would definitely help spice up my house. By the way I love your article about taobao as everyone keep telling me it’s so cheap but I don’t understand Chinese so I have never tried getting anything from there! This is extremely useful! Thank you!

  52. Hi the links to led lights and lighting track are not valid as it just shows SGshop General page. Could you kindly re-share the links?

    Thank you

    1. They’re probably sold out, as the article was published quite some time ago.

  53. Hi, can I check with you regarding the tracking light? I dont seems to be able to find it

    1. They’re probably sold out, as the article was published quite some time ago.

  54. Hi, How do you shipping goods from china to singapore?

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