How to use Taobao 淘宝 – The Complete Guide
If you live in China, or know someone who has, you’ve probably heard of the omnipotent Táobǎo (淘宝), or 万能的淘宝 (Wànnéng de táobǎo). So on that note, we want to teach you all how to use Taobao.
Food, clothing, customized dog bowl, books, and basically anything you can think of can be found here and delivered straight to your door usually within a few days, and usually with free delivery (Think Amazon Prime on steroids!)
You can download the app on your phone or access the site from your computer or phone browser.
For a beginner Chinese learner, or just someone who is using it for the first time, Taobao can seem completely overwhelming.
Have no fear, LTL is here… (to help your feed your new online shopping addiction) 😉
Here are our top Taobao tips.
How to use Taobao Step 1 – Start out small
As soon as you open Taobao, you’ll see a bunch of products offered.
It can be overwhelming.
Scrolling through the seemingly unending collection of products isn’t for anyone. Use the search bar to search what you need.
How to use Taobao Step 2 – Use the reverse picture search feature
If your vocabulary is limited or there is something you like but you don’t know the Chinese word for it, try Taobao’s reverse image search located next to the search bar.
It’s not perfect, but 9 times out of 10 it can help you at least find the word in Chinese for what you are looking for.
How to use Taobao Step 3 – More info about the product (详情, xiángqíng)
After you’ve found those matching couple’s metallic neon jackets or that leaf-shaped spoon strainer you’ve been looking for, you’ll find all the information you need as you scroll to the bottom.
For clothing, this is where you usually can find measurements (remember Chinese sizes don’t necessarily match up with Western ones)!
How to use Taobao Step 4 – Take advantage of responsive customer service
Let’s say you have a party in a few days, and you’ve found beautiful Star Wars themed coasters, you’d like to purchase.
Not sure if they’ll make it in time for the party?
Message the seller (客服, kèfú）and ask how long it will take.
The seller can also give you details on any questions about the product you are buying.
How to use Taobao Step 5 – Read the reviews (宝贝评价， bǎobèipíngjià)
Unfortunately, not every product on Táobǎo is guaranteed to be what you think, although these issues have improved over recent years.
Do your best to read some of the reviews of the product.
If you can’t read them, you can at least see the number of reviews, how many good reviews versus bad reviews there are, etc.
You can also check the number of people who have purchased the product and the seller’s ratings lower down on the product page.
Note: There have been cases in the past where customers are paid to leave good reviews. Try to find products that have at least some written reviews rather than just ratings.
How to use Taobao Step 6 – Consider buying shipping insurance
If you’re ready to buy, on the checkout page, you might notice a section for 运费险 (yùnfèixiǎn), or shipping fee insurance.
This is useful if you plan on returning the product.
For a small fee (depends on the price of the product), you can return the product and will be reimbursed a certain amount of money, usually enough to cover return shipping.
Often the fee is quite minimal and makes sense to purchase if you may return the product.
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How to use Taobao Step 7 – Not every product can be returned
Return policies depend on the seller.
Some may have an unconditional 7-day return policy (7天无理由退货, qītiān wúlǐyóu tuìhuò).
Others may have conditions. Generally, the delivery fee (if there is one) will not be returned.
This will generally be indicated on the 服务 （fúwù, services section) of the product page.
How to use Taobao Step 8 – Pay attention at the origin city of the product
This may also help you get an idea of how long a product might take to get to you.
Products from your city or a city nearby where may take as little as a day to arrive.
Packages from across the country will actually take longer.
Pro-tip: You can also contact the seller before you purchase the product to ask about arrival dates.
How to use Taobao Step 9 – Learn on Táobǎo
You can even use Táobǎo as a language tool to improve your Chinese.
Mandarin homework and online shipping is the perfect combination!
Pick up all sorts of new vocabulary, anything from asparagus peeler (芦笋削皮器, lúsǔn xiāopíqì) to crop top (露脐上衣, lòuqì shàngyī)!
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Chinese Proverbs (or Idioms) and sayings (谚语 yànyŭ in Chinese) are a great way to expand your Chinese vocabulary when you’re learning mandarin.
How to use Taobao Step 10 – Enjoy it
Once you get the hang of Táobǎo, you’ll discover more and more products. Don’t forget to enjoy the once-a-year shopping holidays like Single’s Day.
Here’s some more useful vocabulary for your Táobǎo adventures:
|快递||kuàidì||delivery; this section on the product page|
usually tells you the delivery fee
|宝贝||bǎobèi||a product on Táobǎo|
|店铺||diànpǔ||a shop on Táobǎo, clicking this button |
a product page will show you the other
items sold by the shop.
|收藏||shōucáng||save for later; these can be found |
later in 我的淘宝 （wǒ de táobǎo,
|加入购物车 Add to cart||jiārù gòuwùchē||add to cart|
|立即购买||lìjí gòumǎi||buy now (immediately)|
|尺码||chímǎ||size (for clothing)|
|月销||yùexiāo||how much of the product sold |
in a month
|订单备注||dìngdān bèizhù||This is where you can include any notes |
for the seller, including any customization
you require if your purchase is customizable
|提交订单||tíjiāo dìngdān||Submit order (congratulations!)|
祝你购物愉快！Zhùnǐ gòuwù yùkuài! Happy Shopping!
Taobao – FAQ’s
Taobao is a Chinese online shopping website. It’s HQ is in Hangzhou, and it is owned by Alibaba.
淘宝 or in traditional Chinese it’s 淘寶.
Taobao was founded by Alibaba Group in 2003.
Jack Ma is the founder of Alibaba Group and Taobao.
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