China’s Taobao is one of the world’s largest e-commerce websites, a combination of eBay and Amazon, only bigger. With more than 800 million items listed, you can find almost anything offered for sale. The website has two major platforms – the TMall, where established brand owners sell directly to customers, and the Taobao Market place, where smaller companies and budding entrepreneurs set up shop.
If you are unable to read Chinese, or do not have the time or patience to trawl through hundreds of pages of items, then it’s time you got a Taobao agent. Agents, or personal shoppers, will do your shopping for you. They do the searching, buy the items, and have them delivered either to their own warehouse, and then ship them out to you, or will arrange delivery direct to your home.
In need of a fancy dress outfit for a friend’s Birthday Party, I did an initial search on Taobao, so that I had a few links and pictures of what I wanted. I then emailed these links to TaobaoPlus10 personal shopper, Andrew Ruan, who helps simplifying the whole Taobao shopping experience for expats in China.
“As vendors from all over China put their stuff for sale on Taobao, we can find almost anything. My customers only need to send me an email of what they need (description, a web-link, a picture, a brand), then I will get back to them with the links for those items available,” explains Ruan.
Once you receive the list of matching products, simply select the item you want, send your personal shopper the payment (cash, PayPal or bank transfer), and they will order the product for you. Items will be delivered to your home, and if you need something urgently, they will pay the seller on your behalf, and then you reimburse TaobaoPlus10. If there are any problems with the order, they will help you resolve the issue. Ruan’s recent orders have included Huggies diapers, Crayola coloring pens and pencils, gluten free pizza base, and Vogmasks.
For the Shunyi expat community, it’s even more convenient because Ruan works at one of the International Schools, which makes paying in cash incredibly easy. Their ten percent fee is very reasonable, if you consider how much time you will save, and using a personal shopper takes the hassle out of the whole process. So maybe it’s time to give your bilingual friends a break, and enlist the help of an agent instead.
Contact Andrew Ruan firstname.lastname@example.org
beijingkids Shunyi Correspondent Sally Wilson moved to Beijing in 2010 from the UK with her husband and son. Her daughter was born here in 2011 and both her kids keep her happily busy. In her spare time, Sally loves to stroll through Beijing’s hutongs and parks. She is a (most of the time) keen runner and loves reading: books, magazines, news, and celeb websites – anything really. Sally is also a bit of a foodie and loves trying out new restaurants.