If you have followed me long enough on Instagram, you would know that I love shopping on Taobao. It is a famous online shopping platform based in China with everything you need but at a cheaper price. I’ve got many of you asking me questions about ordering directly from Taobao internationally. Therefore, I decided to start with a complete guide on how to set up a Taobao and Alipay account, as well as a step-to-step instruction on how to get the parcels shipped to your door in a foreign country.
Please note that this guide is based on my experience, as well as information found on the Taobao website. Feel free to comment below if you have any additional questions.
Table of Contents
- Part 1: Introduction
- Part 2: Create a Taobao Account
- Part 3: Set up your Taobao Account
- Part 4: Create an Alipay Account
- Part 5: Add a Bank Card to your Alipay Account
- Part 6: Choose the Right Product
- Part 7: Place an Order
- Part 8: Make the First Payment (Order Value + Domestic Shipping Fee)
- Part 9: Manage your Order
- Part 10: Make the Second Payment (International Shipping Fee)
- Part 11: Track and Receive the Parcel
Part 1: Introduction
★ Can I order directly from Taobao internationally?
Yes. Taobao supports shipping to 10 areas outside of mainland China. As long as you reside in these 10 areas, you can register for a Taobao account and order directly from it.
- Hong Kong
- New Zealand
★ which app should i download?
There are many websites and apps under Taobao, mainly to target different audiences. To prevent confusion, I recommend downloading just the Taobao app (手机淘宝). This is where I usually order my products from. Here is the link to download the app:
Or you can simply search “Taobao” in your app store and look for this icon:
For making payments on Taobao orders, you will have to download the Alipay app (支付宝). This will allow you to add your international credit cards, as well as tracking all transactions made on Taobao and checking the daily currency rate. Here is the link to download the app:
Or you can simply search “Alipay” in your app store and look for this icon:
★ What items are forbidden to order internationally?
Each area has its own list of forbidden items. For example in Canada, some of the common categories include food, liquid, knife & guns, counterfeit items, and candles, etc. Here is a link that entails a detailed list of what items are forbidden in your area.
In case you missed some items, you will be notified on the checkout screen that the item cannot be shipped to your area. However, just to be safe, I usually only buy clothes, bakeware, and photography props from Taobao.
★ Does Taobao have an English App?
Unfortunately not. Taobao is all in Chinese. Though many websites and guides may recommend using Google Translate to translate the website, that would only work if you are simply navigating the website. However, most of the time, buying on Taobao requires you to communicate with sellers in Chinese, whether it’s for order inquiries or complaints on defective items. Therefore, if you don’t know how to read and communicate in Chinese fluently, I would not recommend shopping on Taobao.
Part 2: Create a Taobao Account
You can register a Taobao account on PC or through the app. I strongly recommend registering through the Taobao app (手机淘宝), as it is easier and safer. If you register through the app, you can get some coupons for your first few purchases. The registration itself is pretty self-explanatory, so I am not going to do a step-by-step here.
Part 3: Set up your Taobao Account
★ add your mailing address
The first thing you wanted to do is to add your mailing address. You can add up to 20 mailing addresses to an account, as well as setting the default address.
- Click on the top-right corner for the “setting” icon.
- Click on “My Mailing Address 我的收货地址” to add your mailing address.
★ set up your region
It is important to update your region that matches your mailing address. It will help to provide all the features available to the specific region, such as promotion and information on international shipping fee.
- On the main page, you can change your region 地区 on the top left corner.
- You can then update your region based on your mailing address. For example, as I wish to deliver the parcel to Canada, I picked “Canada 加拿大” as my region.
Part 4: Create an Alipay Account
Alipay is a secure platform for making payments through your phone. Its concept is quite similar to Paypal. Once you have a Taobao account, you do not have to sign up for an Alipay account. You can simply log in via your Taobao app or via SMS. I prefer logging in via the Taobao app, so it links both accounts together.
Part 5: Add a Bank Card to your Alipay Account
Go to the “Me” page and click on “Bank Cards”. You can then add your credit cards to the account.
Part 6: Choose the Right Product
You can search the products using keywords or product image. The Product Image function works well if you are looking for an identical product in the market, perhaps with a different seller or price.
★ Always check Seller Rating and buyer RevieWS
Before you decide to buy a product, don’t forget to always check the seller rating and buyer reviews. You can directly click on “Rating 评价” to read the reviews. It is just like buying products from Amazon, except with no returns. Therefore, I recommend being more cautious and read both good and bad reviews, as many of the short “good” reviews are fake.
I always look for the button “Review with Photos and/or Videos 有图/视频”, so you can view the product quality more closely.
★ Never buy products or from a seller with zero or few ratings
If you saw a product with only a few ratings, I would not recommend buying it. You can screenshot the page and search it using the product image feature to look for identical ones with better reviews.
Part 7: Place an Order
Clicking “Buy Now” will take out directly to checkout. If you want to review your shopping cart, click “Add to Cart” instead.
Once you submit the order, you will be taken to the “Confirm Order 确认订单” page. Here you can confirm your mailing address, shipping & payment method, and the order itself. For shipping method, you would always want to pick the first option “Taobao Consolidated Shipping – Air Freight 官方集运-空运”. This option is available for all 10 regions, and they are the only shipping method for the USA, Canada, New Zealand, and Japan. For other areas, sea freight and direct shipping are also available. You can also check this link for full details on the shipping fee in each area.
Part 8: Make the First Payment (Order Value + Domestic Shipping Fee)
After submitting your order, you will be redirected to the Alipay account to make the first payment. You will be able to choose your preferred payment method. If you set up your credit card previously (see Part 5), you can just pay directly. Alipay supports VISA, MasterCard, and JCB credit cards, with a service fee of 3%. Occasionally, Taobao offers promotions and events with free service fees.
Part 9: Manage your Order
After making the first payment, you can check the order status on “My Orders 我的订单”. You will get a notification once the items are shipped and delivered to the warehouse. You can also track each order and obtain its estimated delivery date.
Part 10: Make the Second Payment (International Shipping Fee)
Once your items have arrived at the warehouse, you can see them on the “Cross-Border Logistics 跨境物流”, ready for you to consolidate the parcel.
Choose all the parcels that you want to consolidate. The system will automatically calculate the total international shipping fee. You can then submit the consolidated order and make the payment.
You can get up to 20 days of free storage time in the warehouse. If your parcel stays in the warehouse for more than 20 days, it will be charged a storage fee of 1 RMB per day per package.
★ How is the International Shipping Fee Calculated?
The shipping fee varies in different areas. You can check how it is calculated by clicking “Estimated Delivery Time and Fee 时效价格” under “Cross-Border Logistics 跨境物流”. This page is updated based on the region you set up (see Part 3)
For example, as I set my region as Canada, here is what I would see under “Estimated Delivery Time and Fee 时效价格”. The international shipping fee for the first 0.5kg is 85 CNY and the next 0.5kg is 40 CNY. Custom and GST are already included in the fee.
You can also find information about delivery promises and possible compensation on delays here. For example, this is the information shown for Canada.
Part 11: Track and Receive the Package
It is simple to track your international package. You can click on “Your Package 物流订单” to see all your consolidated orders. You can then click “track order 查看物流” to track your orders directly.