Thursday, December 27, 2012
How to use Taobao & Taobao Spree (agent review)
What is Taobao?
Taobao is basically the eBay of China! And I freaking LOVE it. You can practically get anything and everything from taobao. From brand name clothing (mostly knock offs tbh), clothes in general to wigs, shoes and most of course the most popular items that people use this for; lolita and cosplay items!
The only catch with taobao is, as an overseas buyer you won't be able to purchase an item from them so you need to go through a shipping agent.
But there are a few taobao stores that will sell directly to overseas buyers; most of them are cosplay and wig shops. I'll link them in a separate post here
What is a shipping agent?
A shipping agent is basically someone who will BUY the item for you, get it shipped to their facility (there are several agents that service taobao and rakuten (rakuten is Japanese), you pay the agent a small fee and they will purchase or bid on said item for you and get it shipped to them and they will then forward you said items. But again, the cost of shipping is up to you.
Buying through a taobao agent also helps because a lot of agents get a certain % off shipping items and etc, which does help in the long run :D
Taobao is pretty simple to use honestly! I don't need to flood this posts with several examples on how to use it. And if your using GOOGLE CHROME, it gives you an option ontop to translate the page for you.
Be sure to keep ti on the first tab ontop for the default search bar, for some reason google chrome translates it to "baby" but, meh. IDK.
Things to watch out for on taobao:
Don't get too carried away by the cheap prices that they flash on your screen! The prices are all listed as Yuans and you convert them to US Dollars. The more the item weights, the more expensive shipping will be. So its usually advisable to order with a group so you guys can split shipping accordingly.
Things to keep inmind while shopping on Taobao:
The first rule on shopping on taobao; you get what you pay for. Not all the items you will see are the real deal, some are knock offs - good knockoffs and some are just bad. Inspect the photos well and just take it with a grain of salt and keep in mind you get what you pay for.
Secondly, cross reference the items you're looking for with other web shops such as eBay to assure yourself you ARE getting a good deal or whatnot. No sense in overpaying for a certain item and hassle of agents when you can find the similar item elsewhere on ebay for pretty much the same price. Your probably only going to save yourself a couple dollars in the long run. (granted, you do the whole back & forth with your agent and etc) but its all up to you. I personally love taobao for all the impossible to find Viviene Westwood items, or knock off Givenchy stuff lol.
-Wigs. Well, this is really a iffy thing. If your buying wigs, make sure your buying more than 1 or with a group. I suggest just doing a giant wig haul because the cost of wig + agent fee + shipping to the agent + shipping to YOU will cost you a hefty price if your just ordering ONE Wig. If you ARE ordering a few wigs, try to order from the same seller to save yourself the shipping.
What I love about wig shopping on taobao is the fashion wigs. They give you more variety and choices in terms of fashion wigs. I wouldn't order cosplay wigs from taobao directly I would first go do a search on ebay and see if I can get the same item for pretty much the same price and without the hassle of an agent or check the list of taobao sellers willing to sell direct. But with most of those shops, they will only charge EMS. And nothing else!
-Shoes, these tends to be a total hit or miss on both quality and price. Taobao is the place to go if you're looking for some Vivienne Westwood Winged Sandals and don't quite have the $200 to drop on the real deal. Or if you're looking for those Jeremy Scott teddy bear shoes that are forever sold out on eBay.
but keep in mid, shoes tends to weight the most and so shipping will automatically cost you pretty much as much as the shoes are, but it could depend really. I suggest browsing through lovelyshoes.net first if you're just in the mood to browse for shoes and style and not necessarily a specific model and brand. Their prices are competitive and cheap, quality is good (you get what you paid for, I have a review for lovelyshoes.net here) you dont need an agent to shop with them. But if you ARE looking for a specific brand, make and model. By all means, taobao will be your new bff.
-Lashes or Makeup. Unless your buying Anna Sui, you might as well go to SASA.com for your beauty items. Since you don't need to use an agent with SASA.com
-Costumes. Sometimes it is advisable, but again, I suggest shopping around the internet for cosplay shops before settling down on ordering from taobao. Sometimes the quality of costumes from a taobao shop is nicer than what your typical cosplay shop carries.
And sometimes you just can't find the right item you're looking for on ebay. Then best to do a group order.
Or consider looking through shops that sells directly to the US (see list of stores below)
-DVDs and electronics. Remember that most dvds and etc are region locked. Your better off ordering from CDJapan or YesAsia! Since you gotta consider the fees that goes into ordering from Taobao and an agent.
Searching for specific items on taobao:
If you're not a native chinese speaker or can read/write. Google translate is your best friend Try and break down the words or key words to help narrow down your search a bit more.
How to use Taobao agents:
On my first order from Taobao that I did on my own I went ahead and did a google search for Taobao agents, yes I went on a total shot in the dark and the first thing that popped up was Taobao Agent
but of course I didn't take a complete gamble, I went and did another search for reviews for said agent, and I found one from the egl community on Livejournal. Those girls are probably the hardest people to impress lol since they look at every single little detail LOL
So I took a shot at it, I followed their website instructions on How to Order and whatnot, which is really simple. They even have a form on their website you can download and fill out or you can make your own list.
You simply list down your information, the items you want (a link to it as well) and some more specific details about the item. Such as style, color and size. And you list down the price in Yuan and the shipping for said item.
Here is an example of what an item would look like if you're doing an order. I also went ahead and did a screen cap for the translated version. Even if the translated version is showing $ its still in Yuan prices.
So when filling out the order form (I highly suggest going through with their order form because its so much more organize and breaks down all the prices and etc for you, their order form is in excel format as well)
You would note down a link to the item, style, sellers name (Which I didn't get on the screen cap but its usually on the right hand side right above the diamond icons) if you are unable to fill out that portion, your still ok. The agent will probably fill out the rest of the info but its best you fill it out to the best of your ability)
and the portion that says 'express' would be the general shipping cost for the agent. The agent sums up all the cost for you and sends you a final quote for all the items, including their discount and their shipping fee.
My agent at the time who was helping me was very nice and communicated well and answered all my questions promptly and kept me in the loop. As soon as I sent in my order form, I got an email within 24 hrs and likewise with any questions I asked. You even have an option of talking with them over Skype!
And once all my items arrived to their office, she was even kind enough to take photos for my items and send them to me. After all your items arrive to them, they send you another quote for the shipping. Giving you options as far as shipping goes.
Airmail, which is the cheapest but clearly takes the longest. Can take up to months! EMS and Express.
The later options clearly would cost you a prettier penny but they arrive quicker and requires someone to sign for said packages to insure its not lost at all. Your agent will also go ahead and give you a tracking # for the items.
I asked for EMS shipping on my items, was overcharged by a few dollars but the agent quickly notified me that they got a cheaper deal on the shipping and quickly issued me a refund to my paypal account. I got my items within a week and a half of it being shipped out. It was well packaged and everything was safely wrapped in bubble wrap.
I had no problems communicating with my agent at all despite the usual language barrier. She was polite and answered all my questions promptly. I would probably go and use TaobaoSpree again as my go to for shopping with Taobao.
I hope you find this post informative and happy shopping!