Your Essential Guide To Shopping On Taobao

If you're a homeowner, here are some savvy tips to shop smart when buying bulky, branded, fragile or electrical goods via the online shopping platform

If you’re looking to cut costs on home decor and furnishings, buying online is a sure way to do so. Many homeowners have turned to Taobao, a highly popular Chinese e-commerce site that has everything to meet your home needs – from bookshelves to bed frames to light fixtures (and lots more!).

However, with its large number of sellers all competing for the best prices, shopping for your home online can lead to unwanted trouble. Read this essential shopping guide with tips from experts and homeowners to learn how to reduce risk and get the best value for your home.

If you’re buying… Bulky Items


Your Essential Guide To Shopping On Taobao

When homeowners Aaron and Angela purchased this wood and metal bookcase from Taobao, they requested it to be flat-packed.

After saving hundreds of dollars on chairs, TV consoles, and even kitchen sinks on Taobao, the last thing you want is to be overcharged for your shipping, which can come up to a pretty sum. If you opt for cargo shipping, there are three ways forwarding companies charge shoppers: by the actual weight of the item, volumetric weight of the packaged item, and per cubic metre (or, CBM) of the packaged item. Karen Wong, co-founder of local forwarder Etrove, says it is more economical for bulkier products to be charged by CBM.

“The wooden furniture sold on Taobao tends to be heavy, due to the chipboard material used. However, an item weighing 80 kg might command only 0.24 cbm of space; if you are charged by weight, your shipping fee might come up to be over $100 – but if you are charged by CBM, it will be only about $30,” she says. However, she adds that CBM calculations only apply to goods of minimum 1 cbm, which means your package must measure at least 1 m x 1 m x 1m.

Homeowners Aaron and Angela Koh, who say Taobao was their go-to site when they were shopping for home furnishings for their Punggol flat, advise: “To save even further on shipping, ask individual sellers to flat-pack the items in a disassembled form, or in the least bulky manner.