Just before this years 11.11, we spoke with three amazing ShopBack community members who renovated and decorated their place with items bought on Taobao. They replied to all our questions and told us their secret shopping tips for Taobao. If you missed out Facebook live you can view it here.


We compiled their best tips and recommendations for you so you can have a rewarding and hassle-free shopping in Taobao this Singles’ Day. Find their answers to the most common Taobao questions below.

For more Taobao shopping inspiration and tips, check our Fashion and Home sellers suggestions. And, don’t miss all the 11.11 Singles’ Day biggest deals and promotions here.

(And a special Treasure Chest code for you: SFBLGSHP)

If you feel unsure shopping for furniture or decoration items online, take Andy, Michelle and Alvin’s examples and see how much you can save when you do your shopping through Taobao.

Buying a house is a huge step in one’s adult life. Budget plays a considerable role in this decisions: are you buying a new house? Renovating? The fun part of this process is to decorate your home and make it your own space. But how to go about it while saving some money? We asked our Taobao shoppers how they did it.

Meet our Taobao shoppers:

  • Andy bought around 15 to 16 articles from Taobao, spending next to 5000 SGD with shipping included.
  • Michelle Sim moved to her first house in 2017 and used Taobao to decorate her new place in a very eclectic and modern style. She spent around 1300 SGD in 35 different articles, including shipping.
  • Alvin Teo also relied on Tabao to find 5/6 items such as a fantastic dining table, a makeup table, lighting, among others, spending only 600 SGD.

How do I even start buying in Taobao? How should I go about it?

According to our experts having a good knowledge of Chinese helps but it is not mandatory. You can still use Google Translate or even use our Taobao cheat sheet to search and browse your fav shops on Taobao.

Sort by the number of items sold: One of the best strategies to find the most reliable and quality products among the long list of Taobao sellers is to sort them according to the number of items sold. A higher number of items sold generally means the seller is reliable.

Reviews with photos: The top tip is obviously to read the reviews and look for reviews with photos. Read not just the bad reviews but also the bad comments, so you know what products/sellers to avoid. Negative reviews are more relevant than good ones. Even in the case that a seller would have hundreds of fake/paid good reviews, you can trust the negative reviews to give you a more balanced view of the real quality of the items and the reliability of the seller.

Image search: One of the great features of Taobao is the image search. When searching for keywords just doesn’t is enough, you can use a photo of the item you wish, and the search results will retrieve similar designs.

Gold crowns: Along from the reviews, our speakers recommend paying attention to the sellers’ ratings. These ratings are indicated via hearts, blue and gold crowns, with the gold crowns being the symbol of the top rating.

With so many sellers and products, how do I choose the best ones?

A simple trick to choose among the best products with the same price is to browse over the item and check how many items that seller has shipped recently. A high quantity of items shipped in the last month is a good indicator of a good seller and trendy product.

Image credit: Dan Gold I Unsplash

Among all the items bought, what was the one with the best value for money? Were the purchases it worth it?

All of our speakers are of the opinion that buying on Taobao is worth it by the price and variety of products.

Andy’s dining table cost him around 1000 SGD with chairs included. He searched a very similar model in a store in Singapore and found out it would cost about 3000 SGD without the chairs. Buying in Taobao allowed him to save more than 60%. The only downside was he had to assemble the table himself.

Michelle was able to save a significant amount on her three gold-framed mirrors. She and her husband were keen on buying a Scandinavian design mirror but the few options they found in Singapore cost around 700/800 SGD. On Taobao, they were able to buy the 3 mirrors for only 258 SGD.

Alvin found the makeup table his wife wanted in Malaysia, but this simple purchase would cost him 300 SGD. A similar Victorian-style table on Taobao cost less than 200 SGD on Taobao and took him an hour to assemble at home.

Do you bargain with sellers in Taobao for extra goodies or discounts?

Bargaining is not a common practice on Taobao. Although prices are fixed, you can always request for some perks. If the seller is not open to offer a discount, you can try to ask for free shipping or some free items in case you are buying large quantities. Our speakers were successful with this technique and were able to get a few free lamps and extras screws.

What are the shipping options for bulky items?

In short, there are two modes of shipping; you can opt to buy via an agent or directly. And your parcels can be sent via airfreight (a faster option) or sea freight. When buying in bulk, opting for sea freight delivery will come out to be the cheaper option, and the parcels take three weeks to arrive in Singapore.

Michelle bought her home decor items through Ezbuy. Her 200 kg order cost almost 200 SGD Her mirrors were shipped directly through Taobao, and they used their own shipping company, and all the items arrived in good condition.

How to do I return or get a refund for products that have defects?

According to Andy that liaises directly with sellers, if something goes wrong, it can be expensive to ship things back to China. If the defect is small, it is better to keep the item.

Similarly to Andy, both Michelle and Alvin had good experiences with their purchases and didn’t require any return or refund.

Image credit: Sylwia Pietruszka | Unsplash

Do I need a contractor to install my items or can I assemble them myself?

Most of the items can be assembled by yourself. If you purchase bigger items that require drilling, you can ask the contractor that handles your project if he is keen in helping you with that.

How is the quality of the products? Is it worth it?

Based on our community members experiences the purchases are of good value for money. After one year to 1 year and a half, all the items purchased are still functioning and in good condition. In total, our speakers were able to save up to 70% when compared to buying on a regular store in Singapore.

What big items do you recommend buying for a new house?

Michelle recommends buying small to medium items such as towel hangers and toilet paper holders. One of her best buys was an octagonal coffee table with glass top.

The other speakers agreed that big, high-value items such as sofas and bed frames are best bought on a store where you can try and check the materials used.

Do you have any top recommended sellers?

Taobao’s strength is the large variety of sellers and products and these change very often. Because of it, you don’t have to focus on a list of specific sellers; you can search for items, follow the tips given above to sort them out and find the best option at that particular moment.

Can I trust the photos of the items? Are they accurate?

Most of the items are true to the photos. Colours can vary a bit but to confirm the exact shades look for the pictures on the reviews section to see what real customers got.

How do I choose a decor theme or furniture style for my home?

When you are renovating or decorating your first place, it is essential to define what is your budget from the beginning. Then, decide what kind feel you are going for and ask yourself: “What kind of home you want to come to every day?”. That will help you choose what kind of items you will want.

Choosing a decor style can be a disagreement point among couples so make sure you discuss it ahead of time. And it pays off to be organised and create a shopping list for all the items you wish to buy.

Image credit: Hamed Alishahi | Unsplash

Anything you would not recommend buying on Taobao and buying in SG instead?

Our speakers were hesitant to buy big bulky items and wooden pieces of furniture such as bed frames and big cabinets or even large sofas. Buying online doesn’t allow you to confirm if the items are as actually as comfortable as you want them to be. They are more comfortable buying smaller items and artwork.

Which payment option should I use? Credit card or Alipay?

The preferred option is to use a credit card that can reward you with extra points, miles or cashback. Credit cards will allow you to track your transactions but note the might be an additional charge when paying with it.

Now that you know Andy, Michelle and Alvin’s successful Taobao shopping examples, what are you going to buy this 11.11?

Taobao is offering 11.11 RMB flash deals from 8-10 Nov + up to 22% upsized Cash Rewards from 11-13 Nov.

And, this Single’s Day, don’t forget to:

– Start by adding your fav items to the cart first
– Use the different vouchers on Tmall
– Get free shipping on Tmall for 11 Nov
– Click through ShopBack for up to 22% cashback rewards, and if you are the first one to check out on Taobao through ShopBack you will win an iPhone XS. Are you going to be the first buyer at midnight?

Happy Taobao shopping!

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