Taobao Shopping Secrets

The Taobao 11/11 Sale may be over, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still score some good deals on the Chinese e-commerce site. Here are some tips on how to get more out of your shopping experience.

1. Get Better Search Results

Taobao has added a “My Search” (我的搜索) function as an extension to their search engine, so you can get customised search results based on:

Search History (全部结果)

Purchase History (从购买过的店里找)

Shops you have bookmarked (从收藏过的店里找)

Shops seasoned shoppers like (黄钻爱买的店里找)

Shops people tend to revisit (回头客多的店里搜)

Through the “My Search” function, you will be able to find items more suited to your style (based on your search and purchase history), as well as highly-rated shops that have good quality products (based on popularity). The search function is only available when you are logged into your Taobao account.

(Source: typhayne garden)

2. Search For What’s Trending On Taobao

The Taobao Top page shows you what’s trending on the site, so you can see what most people are buying (and discover a few new gems or two).

You can also browse the trends according to different departments by clicking on the tabs at the top of the page, or on 完整榜单 (complete list) at the bottom of each graph. Each department will list the best-selling items (销售上升榜) and their corresponding price and number of sales/transactions, trending brands (品牌上升棒) and the most popular brands of all-time (品牌热门榜).

Apparently Nordic-style potted plants are trending on Taobao… (Source: 伊兰家居生活馆)

3. Update Your Chat System (AliWangWang)

Taobao’s chat system AliWangWang (阿里旺旺) has recently undergone an overhaul, and the new version has more functions to make shopping even easier. Once you log into your AliWangWang account, you should be able to see a “淘” icon below your username. From there, you can access the following functions:

Check Parcel Status

Click on ‘我的淘宝’ to see a list of all your Taobao purchases, complete with the latest update on each parcel.

Taobao’s Hottest Deals

Click on ‘我的焦点’ to find the latest deals based on what people are buying (热卖单品), as well as recommended items based on your purchase history (猜你喜欢). The list is usually updated at 3pm daily.

Note: AliWangWang doesn’t seem to work as smoothly on Mac systems, as we’ve had issues logging into the desktop chat client on some occasions. If this happens to you, try quitting the app and logging in again. If not, the chat client on the Taobao phone app usually works fine.

Pinwheel clips, something Taobao shoppers have been snapping up apparently.(Source: 集美日用家居商城)

4. Score Free Taobao Samples

If you love freebies, check out the Taobao Sample page (阿里试用) to request for free samples (yes, for real). The page lists items that are available for review and you can request (免费申请) for any of the samples, which range from beauty products to…a sofa bed.

Domestic shipping is free, but the international shipping fee is on you of course. If your sample request is successful, you will be notified within 3 – 7 working days via AliWangWang. After receiving the sample, you just need to post a review in your diary (我的试用) within a month.

Posting a successful review will increase your credentials, and make it easier to request for samples in the future. It is usually advisable to request for samples with a lower value first, in order to increase your success at approval.

Also check out the 品牌馆’ (Branded Samples) and ‘试用报告 (Review Report) pages, where you can read detailed product reviews from other shoppers.

Anybody want to try out a free sofa bed? (Source: Taobao Trial)

5. Search For Secret Sales

Besides the usual large-scale sale periods (i.e. 11/11, 12/12), shop owners also hold sales for other various occasions:

反季清仓/反季处理 (Off Season Sales)

Shops that sell clothes for either warm or cold seasons (i.e. winter wear, beach wear) usually hold clearance sales during the low season – so if you are looking for cheap winter clothes, try searching for them during the summer months.

冲量/冲冠 (Seller Reputation Flash Sale)

If you aren’t looking for anything in particular, try doing a search with ‘冲量’ or ‘冲冠’ within the department you are interested in – i.e. 女装 (ladies department), 床笠 (bedsheet) or 生活 (lifestyle). The listings are usually from shops who want to clear stocks (some even at below cost price) and up their transaction count or number of reviews.

布料论斤卖/杂布 (Scrap Fabric)

If you’re into DIY-ing or tailoring your own clothes, try searching for ‘布料论斤卖/杂布’ to get cheap fabric. Warehouses usually gather fabric scraps and sell them by weight, so you can get some pretty cheap deals. (Note: 一斤 is about 0.6kg)

You can also filter your search results by adding keywords to describe the type of fabric you are looking for.

纯棉 (pure cotton)

针织 (knitted)

雪纺 (chiffon)

绒布 (velvet)

沙发 (sofa fabric)

防尘 (anti-dust)

运动 (sportswear)

Scrap Fabric (Source: 誉梦旗舰店)

6. Taobao’s Sale Seasons

Taobao generally has different shopping themes every month, the most well-known of which are 11/11 and 12/12 (which are similar to Black Friday). Below are some sale seasons to mark down on your calendars.

Double 11 & Double 12 (11 November 2018 & 12 December 2018)

Double 11 focuses more on TMall sellers, while Double 12 is mainly for Taobao sellers. There’s not much difference between TMall and Taobao, as you can purchase items from both types of sellers in the same order. However, TMall sellers are meant to be more premium, with better customer service and product selection.

Ali Chinese New Year (8 – 11 January 2018)

Good for buying products related to Chinese New Year (i.e. red packets, decorations, containers and the like). Be sure to place your order early though, as most sellers and warehouses close early for the Chinese New Year period.

TMall Valentine’s Day (12 – 14 February 2018)

A good time to pick up gifts, especially if you are looking for customised items.

Home Decoration Sale (26 February – 27 March 2018)

The Home Decoration Sale is a good one to check out if you’re looking to spruce up your home, as you can find anything from basic lighting equipment to statement decorations on sale during that period.

Group Buy Sale (2 – 8 March 2018)

This is the best time to get good deals across all departments, including apparel, travel items and outdoor equipment.

Women’s Day Sale (3 – 8 March 2018)

The Women’s Day Sale typically offers discounts and deals on more female-centric products, such as apparel, beauty tools and lifestyle items. There are usually fixed price sale sections (i.e. all items are 20 yuan) and discounts for purchasing multiple items at the same store.

Wedding Season Sale (9 – 11 April 2018)

A good time to shop for wedding-related items, such as gowns, suits, accessories, tea sets and more.

Men’s Sale (22 – 27 April 2018)

Ahh, here’s one for the guys. Score good deals on menswear, gadgets and other male-centric items during this sale period.

7. Taobao Crowdfunding

Taobao has a crowdfunding page (similar to Kickstarter, if you will) where sellers can list interesting products for sale.  However, only items which receive enough interest from shoppers will be sold to interested buyers. To express interest in an item, buyers must place an initial deposit, which will be refunded in full if the item does not hit its intended quota.

If the item reaches its intended quota, buyers must pay the remaining balance. If the item arrives and is not what it claims to be, Taobao will refund you the amount paid minus the initial deposit. While the items in this section are generally innovative and different, it’s still kind of risky to make a purchase from there – so read the listings carefully before confirming anything.

Click here to browse all of the Taobao Crowdfunding categories.

A portable washing machine. Ahh…the wonders of Taobao. (Source: Taobao Crowdfunding)

8. Troubleshoot Shipping Issues

If you are using a Taobao-appointed forwarder (RIP ezbuy, we miss ya), there are certain restricted items which cannot be shipped to Singapore. However, you can try these alternative ways to ship restricted items:

Problem 1: Cannot access item page

If you are browsing the Taobao Singapore page (or any other country except China), you might not be able to access some item listings. The page will show an error message stating that you cannot access the item. To get around this, try changing your country option to China (中国大陆).

Don’t ask us why there’s a restriction though. Mysterious Taobao is just so mysterious sometimes.

Problem 2: Restricted item in cart

If you are using a Taobao-appointed forwarder (i.e. 4PX, Prouter), you might not be able to check out if you have a restricted item (i.e. candles, liquids, some batteries) in your cart. If you encounter this issue, try looking for an alternate forwarder by searching International Forwarding to Singapore (国际集运 新加坡). From there, you can send the items to the forwarder’s China warehouse. Once the item has been received (check the Logistics updates), chat with the forwarder to provide your Singapore address and pay for international shipping through a link they will provide.

If you’re sure that the item is not a restricted one, it just might be a Taobao glitch. Try chatting with the seller to tell them which item you want, and to make payment through their 补邮费 (Additional Shipping Cost) option, which is usually listed as 1 yuan (so if your item is 25 yuan, you would enter the item quantity as 25). Remember to state the item you want in the Note To Seller (备注) section on the checkout page.

Note: We only recommend this for high-level Taobao shoppers, because it’s a fairly troublesome method. You also need to be able to chat with the seller in Chinese.

Problem 3: Restricted or Bulky Items

If you are purchasing certain restricted (i.e. electronics, LED lights) or bulky items (i.e. furniture), try doing a search for International Forwarding to Singapore for sensitive (国际集运 新加坡 敏感) or bulky items (国际集运 新加坡 特货). Most of these forwarders charge by volume, but their rates may be more competitive than local agents.

(Source: imuseart)

Still want more? Check out these other articles:

Taobao Chinese New Year Guide

Taobao Guide To Menswear

Taobao Guide To Home Organisation

How To Make Your Taobao Outfits Look More Expensive