I’ve been procrastinating on this post for a long time only because this will be a very tedious post to write. I’ll try and keep instructions as simple as possible but do understand that there will be some difficulty especially for readers who don’t understand Mandarin.
In order to shop on taobao effectively, you will first need to know that taobao is somewhat like eBay. The seller creates listings in which you will be able to order an item. Most sellers on taobao carry items in bulk unlike eBay where most of them carry only one item.
There aren’t regular payment options like credit card/Paypal on taobao which is why there are many buying/shopping services site that offer to buy on taobao for a small fee. We use Peeka as they are easy to use. Peeka also has an advantage over the rest as they calculate economy shipping based on volume and not weight (note that this is for Singapore only).
Basically this tutorial will teach you:
How to search for the item you want on taobao.
When you arrive on taobao you will be greeted with a scary wall of gibberish (especially when you don’t read mandarin).
The main thing you need to worry about at this point of time is the search field.
Enter your search terms (eg. Ann Demeulemeester) into the search field and hit the search button. I have mentioned previously that some of the listings do have the brands listed in english and it shouldn’t be that much of a problem trying to find something from a specific brand. The problem comes in when you need to find something specific like shoes, bags, blazers or pants.
Continuing on using Ann Demeulemeester as an example, here is the results page that we get after hitting the search button.
The results page will display a list of items that coincide with your search terms, however if the item that you are searching for is very generic or has a high number of search results, you might want to narrow your search down. The area highlighted in blue are the subcategories that are listed within the search results.
At this moment we have:
- 女鞋 （women’s shoes）
- 女装 （women’s wear）
- 其他 （others）
Within the blue boxes are subcategories of women’s shoes, women’s wear and others.
There are a few things you need to know before buying on taobao and they are pretty similar to buying on eBay.
Sellers on taobao are graded according to the symbol beside their seller name.
There are hearts, diamonds, crowns and gold crowns graded in that order and there can be 1-5 of them. For example, a seller with one diamond has better seller ratings than a seller with 5 hearts. Generally, I only buy from sellers with diamonds and above.
It is important that you pick sellers that have pictures of the actual products especially when it is a replica of a brand item where pictures of it are easily accessible online. The seller will usually state that it is “实图” which means that it is pictures of the actual product as opposed to pictures found on the internet. Sometimes, several listings from different sellers can have similar pictures which I believe are provided by the same manufacturer.
If you read Mandarin, there is the bonus option of being able to read the individual feedback that is left for the items. They may provide information on whether the sizing runs big or small or if the quality of the item is good.
Now that you have selected an item, click on it to be directed to the item listing’s page.
Anatomy of a listing
There are several things we need to take note of before proceeding with an order on Peeka.sg. Below is an example of how an average listing looks like.
- URL of the listing. This will have to be input into the order form on Peeka.
- Seller name and rating. The seller has a rating symbol of one diamond. It should be safe to purchase from them
- Item name
- 价格 (Price)
- 促销 (Discount/Offer) There are time-based discounts on taobao which is similar to eBay. The brackets states the time in which the offer expires.
- 尺码 (Size)
- 颜色分类 (Colour)
Now that you have all the information you need, the biggest hurdle is over. It’s time to head on over to Peeka to proceed with your order.
If you haven’t signed up for an account on Peeka, you should do so. The site is in english so it is easy to navigate. Once you have signed up for an account, click on “New Order” on your dashboard to start a new order.
Your order ID is as stated, just select your delivery type and if you would like to include shipping insurance to your order. Dawn had the wisdom to click on it the first time we had ordered, one of our items came damaged and we received a new item because we bought insurance. Click on “next”.
Enter the URL of the item which you want to buy and click on “next”. Peeka will fetch the necessary information.
You will be able to see most of the item information including price and shipping from the seller to Peeka’s China receiving centre. Do note that Peeka will fetch the highest price that is listed and if the item is on discount, you will need to correct the amount. You will need to enter the colour and size on your own as well.
To proceed, click on “add to order”. Once the listing is available on your Peeka order page, there will be an automated calculation at the bottom stating the subtotal, exchange rate, handling fee, tax , insurance and deposit amount required and total amount.
In order for Peeka to proceed with your order, they will need a deposit amount from you. Payment can be via bank transfers for Singaporeans or residents with a Singaporean bank account. They also accept Paypal on occasions but you will need to email Peeka regarding the fees that may be involved for using Paypal.
Once the deposit has been paid, Peeka will order the items on your behalf. You will receive email updates on the ordering of the items or when the item is out of stock. You are still able to add items to the order until all the items in the order has reached the China receiving centre or if your deposit amount falls below 80% of the total amount.
Peeka will send another email for final quotation which includes shipment charges when all your items have been received at the China receiving centre. You will then be required to pay that amount before the item is shipped to Singapore.
The staff from Peeka are very helpful and I am constantly impressed by how efficient they are in answering my queries. Do note that they do operate regular office hours and do deliveries themselves instead of using Singpost. Before I receive any flak, I’d like to state that we are not in any way affiliated with Peeka or taobao and are not paid for this. We would just like to recommend a good service. We have used Peeka a few times to order from taobao and are very pleased with their services.
Helpful Keywords for shopping on taobao.
- 欧美 – European / American style. What you see in street snaps and blogs, mostly.
- 英伦 – English style – lots of tweed, plaid, penny loafers and school inspired blazers.
- 日韩 – Korean / Japanese style. Tends to be frillier and girlier.
- 日韩剧 Clothing inspired by what actors in Korean / Japanese drama wore.
- 男鞋 – mens shoes
- 女鞋 – womens shoes
Heel type for shoes
- 坡跟 – wedges
- 防水台 – platform
- 高跟 – heels
- If you want platform wedges, simply combine both to form 防水台坡跟
Types of shoes
- 单鞋 – pumps / sandals
- 凉鞋 – sandals
- 平底鞋 – flats
- 靴子 – boots
Types of material used
- 真皮 – real leather
- 人造革/PU – fake leather
- 亮皮 – patent leather
- 蕾丝 – lace
- 亚历山大王 – Alexander Wang
- 亚历山大麦昆 – Alexander McQueen
- 黑色 – Black
- 白色 – White
- 灰色 – Grey
- 红色 – Red
- 蓝色 – Blue
- 绿色 – Green
- 黄色 – Yellow
- 紫色 – Purple