Okay. I’ve finally gotten down to writing this post! It has been long overdue ~ If you still didn’t know, TaoBao (淘宝) is a Chinese online shopping website similar to eBay, Amazon and Rakuten. In fact, some stuff you see on these websites probably came from there. I mean… It is China right, like almost 80% of stuff are made there. 

Before you go argh, China.. Please don’t be mistaken like quality sucks and blah. Honestly, I’ve gotten quite a shitload of stuff from there and most them did turn out well. For instance, my wedding decorations! Everything was from TaoBao (淘宝)! 

And… Do you need excellent Chinese? I doubt so. For those who knows me, I’m pretty much ‘jiak kantang’ (eat potato); meaning I speak English and am pretty bad at Chinese. So yeps, you probably just need to recognize a few Chinese words just to navigate around or Google Translate is your best friend!

Ok. Enough talking. Let’s get you started! Instructions here are for the phone. Website navigation gonna be totally different!

  1. Download the APP. Type ‘Taobao’, a long list of selection should appear. For iPhone users, please select as per the arrow in the picture. 
  2. This is the APP you should be downloading. 
  3. Next, set up your account as a new user by pressing ‘新用户注册’.
  4. Fill in your contact details as your account will be tied to your phone number. You will receive SMS notifications, especially one-time passwords. So please use a legit phone number. ‘国家地区’ means country and country code and ‘手机号’ means your phone number. So.. For Singapore, you are going to select 新加坡 +65 and for America, you are going to select 美国 +1. Type in your phone number and select ‘下一步’ (means next step)
  5. This is just to make sure you ain’t a robot. So just use your finger to swipe it. 
  6. This page asks for your one-time password and you will receive it via SMS. Please input it in (see Step 7). You have 1 min to do it. Select ‘下一步’ to continue. 
  7. You can find your one-time pin in the SMS inbox. It should look like this – 6 digits. 
  8. Now. You will be selecting your Password ‘登录密码’ and Username ‘会员名’. Press the orange button that says ‘确定’ to continue.
  9. They are going to ask you if this is the Username you want as you cannot change it once you proceed. It will be tied to your phone number. Press ‘确定’ to proceed. 
  10. Tadah! Account is created. Wait… That’s not all. You will need to set up your mailing address, international shipping provider and your Alipay ‘支付宝’ account as well. All these will only be prompted when you cart out. Therefore, I’m gonna add some stuff to the cart first. I’ll teach you how to shop again in another post.
  11. Type in the box at the top on what you need. It is usually more accurate if you use Chinese. Trust me, Google Translate gonna be your best friend here. Results will be shown below (picture, price in RenMinBi and how many people has transacted). Press on whichever you like.
  12. So, let says I want these balloons. I’ll select it and this is my next screen. Select ‘加入购物车’ (add to cart). 
  13. This screen will pop out for your selection – colors, packages. You can press on the options and see the different pictures in that small pop out. Prices are gonna change for different things. It would also show you the approximate currency conversion rate. Select whichever you want and the quantity ‘购物数量’ and press ‘确定’ to continue. Continue to search and add whatever you want. When you are ready to check out, press the Cart picture at your top right hand corner. 
  14. Now, this is your review page. Select whatever you want. You can press ‘全选’ to select everything. As you select, the amount is going to total up ‘合计’ and this does not include domestic or international shipping fee. Press ‘结算’ when you are done. 
  15. For the first time round, you will receive this prompt. It is telling you that you have not saved your mailing address. Press ‘确定’ to continue. 
  16. Key in your name ‘收货人’, phone number ‘联系电话’, country ‘所在地区’ (options will appear – select ‘海外’ in the 1st column and ‘新加坡’ for Singapore or ‘美国’ for North America in the 2nd column – see picture. Press ‘完成’ when done) and exact address (in the free space below) – this means your block/house no., street, zip code, country bla (exactly how you would write on an envelope). Press ‘保存’ to save. 
  17. You will return to this screen. Your name, telephone number and delivery address will be shown at the top. Now, you need to select how international delivery is going to occur – select ‘物流方式 – 卖家直送’ (see picture for popup – select ‘淘宝集运’ and ‘修改’ to select your forwarder – see picture)I always use a forwarder instead of asking the seller to send it to me directly as prices are more transparent. The thing about TaoBao is that you can buy stuff from many different shops/sellers and have everything consolidated at the holding warehouse for 20 days. This will save you a lot on the international shipping costs. Sorry! I lost the screenshot for Singapore hence I’m showing you the USA one. It is almost all the same, just different delivery companies and prices. In Singapore, there is Singpost (using the PopBox), Ninjavan (direct to your door) and couple more others. I always use Ninjavan cuz it’s the cheapest and so far it is still ok although I get hiccups (ie. Delivery scheduled today but the delivery guy call you in the afternoon saying he can’t come). So, when you decided which forwarder you want, select it. Let me explain what the chunk of Chinese words say. A. – C. all mean the same just that different total weight has different prices. So using A. to explain, if total consolidation is <10kg, the first 1kg will cost 85RMB and for every 0.5kg after that 1kg, will cost 26RMB. The good thing is they weigh the items and not use volumetric weight so phew! So when you are happy and done selecting, press ‘同意协议并确认’. 
  18. You will return back to this screen again. ‘配送方式’ refers to the domestic shipping (ie. from seller to the holding warehouse). It is usually free and will appear as ‘快递 免邮’ (I’ll usually find another seller if it isn’t free. But if they really are charging, usually won’t be that much and I’ll pay for it if I really really like the item. You can do the math and decide!). Once you are happy with everything and checked that details are correct, select ‘提交订单’. 
  19. Now, for first-timers, you will get a prompt that you have no Alipay account so you can’t checkout. You will be prompted to download the APP. So.. Download it. 
  20. Open the APP and press Sign Up. Good thing is… It is in English yay!
  21. Fill in your details and press Sign Up. They will require you to go through some security and get you to key in a one-time pin again. Check your SMS. 
  22. After you complete, you will come to this screen that prompts you to select a 6 digit pin. This pin will be used when you confirm your payments. 
  23. Now you are done and will see your Alipay main page. You don’t need to do anything. It will be automatically linked if you followed the TaoBao prompts while setting up your account. This is a limited pay Alipay account and you can only use it to pay for stuff but won’t be able to take money out. Their verification process is a bitch so please don’t try it. It was a nightmare to verify the account and they require like copies of your credit card, ID, passport etc. That being said, please DO NOT checkout your items one by one creating many transactions, they are gonna think it is fraud and block your account. To unblock, you will need to send these documents in. So please be decisive, check out only when you are ready. I’m not sure what is the algorithm for fraud but having been a fraud specialist with banks, if you are gonna checkout multiple transactions at once, the computer will think it is fraud. If a transaction occurs on a daily basis, it will probably be detected as fraud too. If you want to know why, email me privately. 
  24. Now you can checkout from your TaoBao cart. For first-timer, you will be prompted to add your credit card. VISA and MASTERS are definitely accepted. No AMEX. 
  25. Type your 16 digit card number in the ‘银行卡号’ field and press ‘下一步’.
  26. You will need to enter further details. ‘姓名’ refers to Name on Card, ‘有效期’ refers to Card Expiry Date (options will appear, it will be in month and year format), ‘安全码’ refers to the 3 digit CVV number at the back of your card and ‘邮箱’ refers to your email address. You can ignore the last address, it is basically your default TaoBao warehouse address (do not change or add anything). Press ‘下一步’ to continue. 
  27. So there! Everything is set up properly and you can check out. I’ll continue in the next post as it’s getting too wordy here.