Taobao Direct Guide for users familiar with 3rd party agents and navigating taobao (with chrome google translate on, hence the title)
- Taobao direct consolidation and shipping is available in the following countries: USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan. This review is primarily geared towards the US as that’s where I live.
What is Taobao direct? Basically instead of copying and pasting the item URL into the agent website, you add items to your cart like a regular ecommerce site, check out, wait for items to arrive in the warehouse (similar to what happens when you use an agent) and then when all your items from various sellers are in, you request the logistics company to send everything to you.
Disclaimer: I have no Chinese fluency written or otherwise. I did everything through Google translate and my experience with how tb works through agents. If something goes wrong I will probably write off the item 🤣 if you communicate a lot with the ts who use translators it also helps get your point across. If you type in English in tb live chat they will redirect you to the HK/tw help staff who have medium English. Also I bought items I purchased previously with an agent or vouched for here on RL or had crazy high reviews/ratings.
- Duck the agent fees and exchange rate bs
- Shipping is cheaper but EMS is the only option right now
- If you are overcharged for shipping you can get a refund
- It’s also easier to collect the discounts and coupons from stores (ymmv with agent)
- Not good for reps or mainstream branded rep items as they can be marked as contraband by taobao and then you have to get a refund and return to the seller
- You pay 5% sales tax (see note at the end) and 3% on the total payment through alipay with a foreign cc (regardless if your cc does not charge forex)
- No qc pics and can't really control the declared value if that matters
- Other categories of items like make up brushes, liquids, powders, sharps, etc. are not eligible
- limited destinations
- 20 day hold limit apparently every day after that is charged 1 yuan per item per day
I think the ideal usage for taobao direct would be light items like innerwear, jewelry, soft/non fragile goods, generally clothing and shoes although I don’t know if they will include the box by default. Please see here for the image guide for ordering
Sorry in advance if my descriptions are wonky, I'm not great at following OR writing instructions but hopefully the screenshots make it easier to follow along.
- Create an account (there are various guides out there for overseas members) and go into your account and add your home address (or the superbuy warehouse address)
- Find your items and change the delivery location to "overseas", add to cart
- When you're ready to check out hit check out, enter your cc info on the alipay (remember to use a card that doesn't charge foreign transaction fees) and confirm it goes through.
- Wait for all your stuff to come in. When its in the tb warehouse it will show up in the "consolidated delivery" section tagged with a weight (usually volumetric or actual). The 20 day countdown will start once its available for international shipping.
- After all your items are in, or you can batch up by selecting items on the consolidated delivery page, submit for delivery. Pay again through alipay.
- Use the check logistics option to get the tracking info and wait for your haul!
- After receiving but before you open, take photos of it on a scale and the lxwxh with a ruler as well. This is because they will overestimate your shipping but there isn't rehearsal shipping like with agents. You can request a refund after the fact with the "refund/complaint" option on the consolidated delivery page (mine says check refund because I've already gone through it)
- Getting a refund: select the "only refund" option, "goods received" and "shipping cost does not match" and leave the full shipping amount in. Upload your measurement and weight photos (make sure the file size is not too big). Within 72hr they will reply and ask you to modify your application with the real amount owed (if any). It will go back to your cc through alipay (may take a few days).
: Even after the 5% sales tax and 3% alipay, it cost me $6.20 total from my credit card statement. A 39 yuan top up for sb is $6.53 as of today (if using paypal). For some the qc pictures and the longer storage period are well worth the difference. However a good compromise is the parcel forwarding option in sb. Instead of shipping to your house you can set up superbuy’s warehouse address and pay in taobao and wait for your items to show up in sb. You also have to submit the item link and the tracking # in superbuy so they can find your stuff. There's no sales tax and usually no shipping and you can select the coupons you want. I had a pair of pants make it to the sb warehouse almost 24hr after ordering, and another 24hr after entering my shipping info and item link in sb, it showed up in my account with free (non hd) pictures of the item. Then I cried putting together the shipping parcel lol.
This is a good way to dodge the sales tax and hold items for longer. However then you're at the mercy of the shipping costs (but you do have more options for delivery lines and you can customize how you want your items packaged too). The taobao warehouse will really throw everything in there, probably in a poly envelope.
The taobao shipping rates are 90yuan for the first .5kg and 48 yuan per every .5 after which is very competitive even after accounting for volumetric weight. Sb ems starts at 186 for the first .5kg and 61y every .5kg after. Of course rates and terms are subject to change with the times.
I had a package that came in at 277g when I measured it at home but I was charged for 1.6kg. After sending in the package images they refunded 144yuan (the true volumetric weight was about .97kg.) Taobao volumetric calculation is lxwxh (cm)/6000. Timeline wise I submitted 8/16 and received 8/28 although I think because it was so light they used epacket/china post because it was not an EMS tracking # big sigh. Still less than 10 days can't complain.
Hope this helps! I'm sure I missed something on this guide so feel free to leave any questions and I will update the post accordingly. Apologies this is very us-centric, I also cannot comment on getting a refund or exchange from sellers before you ship out but there is now english support (albeit a bit wonky) through chat and aliwangwang+google translate can get you pretty far.
Ps: highly recommend using the app too as its easier to get chat messages from the seller. You can screenshot and upload images to Google translate to read the text.
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