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Tips on shopping on Taobao

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If you're too busy to purchase goods in person, online shopping is an ideal choice. As China's largest e-commerce platform, Taobao has just about everything you could imagine. Make your shopping that much easier with these top tips.

General

First and foremost, keep your expectations in check. The quality tends to match the price, so if you only look for products with the cheapest price tag, you probably won't get a satisfactory purchase.

When you find your desired product, be patient and keep searching, because you can generally find the same products in different Taobao shops. If you don't know which one to choose, select one at an average price – usually it will help you weed out poor-quality products.

Language

Taobao is only in Chinese and most of the sellers don't speak English. If Chinese isn't your forte, ask a friend for help or use a translation tool, although the latter may cause more confusion than is worthwhile.

Sizing

Prepare a ruler and pay attention to the size, quality, colour, stock and shipping information provided by the seller. If you can't find the information or it isn't clear enough, you'll have to contact the seller through Aliwangwang – a live-chat program for Taobao.

Images

Check if what's shown is an image of the actual product. Some sellers will make it clear that it is, but for others, you'll be able to tell from the photography style and the models. If there are detailed images, you can see the level of quality and craftsmanship.

Other images are just for reference. The real product won't be as good as the images.

You can go to the "Feedback" section to see images posted by other buyers.

Payment

Hong Kong buyers can pay by Visa, Mastercard, Tap & Go, Octopus, Alipay Purchase Card, PPS and more.

Shipping

In urgent cases, or if the product is fragile or expensive and has a seven-day return policy, you can use a courier such as SF Express to ship to Hong Kong.

If it's not a rush and you don't have plans to return the product, it's best to use the group shipping option. By combining all your purchases from Taobao together and shipping to Hong Kong in one go, it's much cheaper than SF Express.

Tools

Use the "Find Similar" and "Find Same Design" functions. Through these, you’ll find different shops using the same product images and that are located close to each other, which likely means they have the same vendor. Then, you can choose the shop with the highest rating and the best feedback.

Detailed seller ratings over the past six months should have lots of red words and red arrows – that means the shop's rating is better than its counterparts.

Use Aliwangwang to communicate with the sellers and keep records of your dealings. If there's any disagreement or problems in future, Taobao officials will only acknowledge the Aliwangwang record.

Check feedback from previous buyers. Start with the bad and average reviews, and then go to the good ones. Chinese buyers generally leave very direct reviews; sometimes you can even find them arguing in the feedback section about the product quality. If there are no reviews, check the seller’s overall rating and make your decision based on that.

View questions or concerns left by previous buyers about a particular product in the "Ask Others" section. You can even ask your own questions and see if you can get replies from previous buyers.

China Daily


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