Anyone who has been living in China for more than a month will be no stranger to Jack Ma’s Taobao. The largest C2C (consumer-to-consumer) e-commerce platform in China is famous for its encyclopedic list of products, cheap pricing and fast delivery speed. Chinese people think about it dearly when they are abroad, and expats cry for it when they leave China. Here’s how to take advantage of Taobao.
Compare different offers
Chinese people believe in the down-to-earth philosophy of ‘货比三家 (Compare offers from three shops)’ when it comes to making a purchase. After all, we all hate the idea of regretting after paying. Being an online shopping platform that accumulates sellers and buyers from all over China, it’s convenient to do comparisons as you can easily find hundreds of shops selling the same kind of product, with a lot of the items each having at least dozens of comments from your fellow buyers.
Some shops provide coupons to attract buyers – some require a minimum payment while some don’t. Do pay attention to the upper right corner of each shop in the Taobao app’s shopping cart section: if there’s a ‘领券 (Claim your coupon)’ button next to the default ‘编辑 (Edit)’ button, it means that it’s your lucky day.
Choose sellers who are closer to you
Thanks to Taobao, the Jiangsu-Shanghai-Zhejiang region is nicknamed by Chinese people as the “Free Shipping Region” because buyers in the region are usually given the free shipping offer when they shop from the sellers in the same region. In contrast, other provinces in China don’t have this exclusive offer, but the shipping fee is still the closer, the cheaper. So if the products are basically the same in shops based in different locations, you may save some money by choosing the sellers who are closer to you.
Wait for the online shopping festivals
You might have heard of the Double 11 Shopping Festival, the world’s biggest online shopping event with a profit more than Black Friday and Cyber Monday. The annual festival was started by Jack Ma in 2009 on November 11, and soon extended to the whole Chinese e-commerce world. On this day, most popular products are cheaper than usual, with some even having up to 70% discount. If you miss the Double 11 Shopping Festival, there’s also a Double 12 Shopping Festival, which is held on December 12.
Don’t be afraid to bargain with the sellers
If you are going to buy more than one item in a shop, try to bargain with the sellers. They might give you a special offer!
Buy coupons / discount cards for offline shops
This is a secret trick that even many Chinese people do not know, that you can buy discount cards or coupons for offline shops at a usually very fair price on Taobao. For example, if you want to buy a pair of Nike shoes at a factory shop in a Chinese city, just search “Nike” plus “实体店 (offline shop)” and “优惠券 (coupon)” and a list of coupons will pop up to choose from. And you can apply the same trick to movie theaters and restaurants as well.
This is a very simple, free-of-hassle method to save money, because sometimes you’ll add a lot of unnecessary stuff into your shopping cart out of impulse. If you can resist the temptation of fulfilling your material desire as soon as possible, you may find out in two days that you can remove many items in your cart.