I recently discovered a shopping haven in the form of TaoBao. I've heard of it sometime back but the first time I tried navigating the website (which is entirely in Chinese), I was so lost, I gave up. But this time, I was determined to score some good buys, so I tried harder. Pleased to say that it wasn't all that difficult after all.
You can either try shopping thru an agent like daigou or shop direct with TaoBao. With an agent, all you need to do is to browse on TaoBao, copy and paste the URLs of the items you'd like to daigou, and let daigou do the ordering and shipping for you. Payment is handled by daigou (you pay them, they pay taobao), correspondences with the sellers are handled by daigou, and shipping to Singapore is also handled by them. What this means is, the exchange between you and daigou can be done in English. In exchange, you are charged an agent fee.
Alternatively, you can cut out the agent, and shop direct on TaoBao. Now that I am more familiar with taobao, this is what I do to save money. If there are no issues with the order, well and good. No correspondences needed. But if there are issues, you'd have to contact the seller yourself, and most of them only understand Chinese. The easiest way to get in touch with them is through Aliwang chat. If you are using a Mac, you can just download the app from the AppStore. It is a live chat platform and many of the sellers are usually available so you can hit them with questions or even ask for a discount! I usually type my questions in han yu pin yin and have google translate open. When their replies get too complicated for me to understand, I use google translate. :P
I shall not go into detail about setting up a Taobao account since there are many people who've already wrote detailed instructions on this. You can check out A Singaporean's Guide to Shopping on Taobao. It can seem intimidating at first, but setting up the account and payment arrangements is just once off. Subsequently, you'll be able to skip these troublesome steps.
And now, the question that everyone likes to ask... What does a mom with 3 young kids buy from Taobao. Sharing my favourite finds...
Oxford Reading Tree Books
If you are familiar with Biff, Chip, Kipper and Floppy, you'd be familiar with ORT. I bought the entire set of readers (levels 1 to 9 - over a hundred books) from TaoBao. Shop here!
Stephen Joseph Wallets
I was looking for a kid-sized wallet for my son who'll be going to Primary 1 next year, and was so happy to find this. It has compartments for dollar notes, coins and a few cards. Just what I was looking for! Shop here!
Stephen Joseph Pencil Cases
I was putting together goody bags for 5 to 8 year olds. Managed to find these cute pencil cases. Pretty and functional. I messaged the seller to tell her that I was planning to buy 40 pieces, and asked if she was able to give me a discount. She readily agreed to a pretty generous discount. Shop here!
We received name stamps as Christmas presents last year and my boys were so delighted. I decided to give these as birthday party goody bag gifts... I am guilty of throwing away sweets, lollipops and such from the birthday goody bags that my boys bring home from school and make it a point never to give these sweet stuff. I hope his friends found these useful. While at it, I made a set with just my boy's name in english and chinese characters (without the cartoon characters )for labelling Primary 1 textbooks and exercise books. Shop here and here!
I like hanging these tags on my boys bags so they can differentiate theirs from their friends... especially when the whole class is using the same school bag. Comes in all sorts of cute designs. We also gave these away as birthday goody bag goodies. Shop here!
Clothes for Mommy
After giving birth to Nico, I could no longer fit into my old clothes. Boo hoo! I was so glad to find miancun.taobao.com. They sold Zara like clothes at TaoBao prices. Best! Their clothes change with the seasons though. So if you are looking for clothing items for our tropical climate, you'd have to shop in the first half of the year. This simple denim dress I bought actually came with a Zara tag. Shop here!
What are your favourite TaoBao finds? Share with me... share the joy... and the savings!