If you are looking for amazing bargains at better than wholesale prices and an almost endless variety of interesting products, TaoBao is a shopping site you do not want to miss. Buying from TaoBao is easy if you’re in Singapore and if you can read some Chinese. But even if you can’t, I’ll show you how to easily make your purchase with a super reliable TaoBao agent.
Shopping on this Chinese site will save you many dollars over getting the same item from a retail store, Qoo10, a blogshop, Carousell, or anywhere else really. Many of these local shops get their goods directly from TaoBao or at least the same Chinese suppliers anyway. Whether you are getting clothes, stationery, pet products, or even furniture, you can probably find them on TaoBao if it’s made in China. That’s one of the reasons I hardly go to shopping malls anymore.
Here’s my in-depth TaoBao guide and review of various shipping methods, forwarding agents, and a couple of individual shops
To buy from this popular Chinese marketplace, you have a few options:
- Use a TaoBao agent like Peeka or EZbuy to buy and ship your stuff
- Buy directly from TaoBao and ship your stuff by airmail with one of their official forwarders
- Buy directly from TaoBao and ship your stuff by sea with an independent freight forwarder
Whichever option you choose, you should be able to see substantial savings over shopping in Singapore, especially if you have a large order.
Use a TaoBao Agent to Buy and Ship Your Stuff
This is the easiest option if you don’t know Chinese. I use an agent called Peeka. They offer both air and sea mail but shipping by sea is a lot cheaper. To buy from TaoBao through Peeka, these are the following steps:
- Find the item you want and copy the URL
- Paste the URLs in Peeka’s order form and enter the quantity and other options (color, size, etc) for your items
- Make a first payment via bank transfer for the total cost of your items, each seller’s delivery charge within China (to the Peeka’s China warehouse), and Peeka’s commission
- Wait for the Peeka to confirm purchase of the items, or inform you if anything is out of stock. You can add more items as long as your items have not all arrived at their warehouse yet
- Once your items have arrived at Peeka’s warehouse, Peeka will check for any defects and inform you if anything is damaged. Usually they’ll also liaise with the seller for you to exchange any damaged item
- Your items will be weighed/measured and shipped to Singapore. You will need to make a second payment for shipping from China to Singapore
- Once your items have arrived in Singapore, Peeka will send you an SMS notification and actual delivery is usually a few days later.
All buying is done through Peeka and you do not need to have your own TaoBao account or Alipay account. However, this also means that you will not enjoy any VIP discounts or other rebates that require a TaoBao account.
The good thing about using an agent like Peeka is that they can help you communicate with the seller if your Chinese isn’t that good and you need to ask questions.
Buy Direct and Use an Official Forwarder
You will need to create a TaoBao account as well as an Alipay account in order to use this method. Payment can be made with your local credit or debit card or you could top up your account via at an AXS station. All buying and payment is done on your own. But it’s still pretty convenient because you can choose to ship with an official forwarder through TaoBao’s system so there’s no need to fill in extra forms or use an external web site.
Buying directly from TaoBao means you pay no agent commission and get to enjoy any VIP discounts from the seller and other TaoBao account perks. They also ship only by airmail and your items arrive in just days. However, this also makes heavier items a lot more expensive compared to using an agent with sea shipping.
Not all sellers support international forwarding so you will not be able to purchase from them with this method (although you can still add to cart, which is annoying because you only find out whether a seller supports forwarding or not when you try to checkout).
Here’s my usual process for buying with this method
- Add all the items I want in cart
- Checkout with international forwarding selected and make payment for items (screenshot here)
- Wait for all my parcels to arrive at forwarder’s warehouse
- Combine my parcels if I’ve bought from different sellers
- Pay the combined forwarding fee
- Wait for my package to arrive (takes 4 to 6 working days from arrival)
- Choose a forwarder with higher rating. You’ll be able to see their ratings when selecting them. I use 4PX
- Remember to combine the parcel because it’s not done automatically. The first time we bought from TaoBao, we shipped everything separately and ended up paying a higher fee
Ship Large Orders by Sea via an Independent Forwarder
This method requires you to buy from TaoBao directly and ship by sea with an “unofficial” / independent forwarder. Note: The term “unofficial” only means that they are not one of the designated forwarders used by TaoBao.
This is by far the cheapest option if you are making a huge purchase. It is also the most troublesome as you’ll have to liaise with all the sellers yourself and inform the forwarder which goods you’ve bought.
The independent forwarder we use is Hongxun Logistics. They charge 460 RMB (around 100SGD) for the first cubic metre and thereafter 55 RMB for every 0.1 cubic metre (please check directly with them for the latest prices).
This is roughly how the process is like: The forwarder gives you a special address that you should use when buying your TaoBao items. You also have to fill in a spreadsheet that says what item you bought and how many packages it will be sent in (for the forwarder to tally when it arrives). Once the forwarder receives your spreadsheet and all your TaoBao items have arrived at their warehouse, they will ship it to Singapore and then to your home. You can choose to prepay or make payment after the goods are delivered to you in Singapore. We opted for the latter and handed the payment directly to the delivery guy.
Comparing their rates to Peeka’s rates for sea mail, I find that the independent forwarders are much cheaper but you’ll need to do all the purchasing yourself, ask your seller to ship to the forwarder’s warehouse, and communicate with both the sellers and forwarder yourself.
TaoBao Shipping Rate Estimator
I created this calculator to make it easier to estimate an item’s shipping cost based on actual weight vs. volumetric weight. Most of the shipping options described above charge by the higher weight of the two so the calculator will reflect that. You may also enter just the actual weight or the dimensions. At the moment, the calculator only has rates for Peeka, EZbuy, and 4PX but more will be added soon. This is purely a shipping rate calculator and does not include any service charges. If you would like me to build a calculator that includes service charges from the various agents, please leave a comment so I know that people actually want it. If there are any other functions that you would like the calculator to perform, please feel free to make a request in the comments below 🙂
Our Recent TaoBao Hauls
This section is kind of dead because I’ve been shopping so much on TaoBao I don’t even do hauls anymore. If you’re really interested in what I’m buying, leave a comment and I might revive this 🙂
If there is anything at all you want to know about shopping on TaoBao that isn’t answered here, please let me know in the comments below. Your questions help improve this guide and are greatly appreciated!
If you’ve bought from TaoBao before, please feel free to share your good/bad experiences with forwarders/sellers too!