Taobao- China’s Biggest E-commerce Marketplace.
Chinese Name,淘宝网 (Táobǎo Wǎng)
Location, Hangzhou – Zhejiang Province
Call it China’s version of eBay or Amazon. Taobao remains the biggest online shopping center since its establishment in 2003. The website is owned by the Alibaba Group, an online marketplace company that provides sales services. The headquarters of Taobao is located in Hangzhou, the capital city of Zhejiang Province in Eastern China. Currently, the website has no English version.
What can you buy on Taobao?
A lot! Come to think of anything buyable. Start from items you can buy from a big supermarket and scale it down to, music, insurance, call credits, flight/train tickets all the way down to live pets.
But that’s not all. You can also buy drones, steamed dumplings, live scorpions and even hire a girlfriend/boyfriend. On Taobao, the possibilities are endless. [See some of the 10 strange things on Taobao, compiled by the BBC website].
The good news about the shopping site is that, you can easily find foreign products that maybe be unavailable in your local supermarkets.
Are the products authentic?
It depends. There are many shops out there, both small and big shops that sell authentic products. There are also quite a number of other shops that sell knockoff items. Some of the shops specifically sell fake products (some make it clear to you) as that is what some buyers want. Example, there are shops that sell knockoff versions of popular brands such as iPhone and other products.
If you worry so much about quality, it is advisable to buy your items from Tmall shops.
Tmall (天猫- Tiān māo)
Tmall (TMALL.COM) formerly known as Taobao Mall is an independent shopping site that belongs to the Alibaba Group. It has thousands of brands and provides one-stop solution to businesses, manufacturers and consumers. Products on Tmall are regarded as high quality and authentic.
In addition to the many shops on Taobao,Tmall is integrated into the shopping site. This means, consumers can directly search on Taobao for items sold on Tmall.com without leaving Taobao.com.
Singles Day Discount
November 11 (11/11) every year is regarded as the Chinese Singles Day and this happens to be China’s biggest e-commerce sales day of the year. It’s more like America’s Cyber Monday. Just like many other e-commerce websites, shops on Taobao offer a great deal of discounts to their customers.
It’s good to note that the discounts are normally offered by individual shops and not necessarily the Taobao website. So the discount rates may be different from shop to shop, prices or even what you want to purchase.
Apart from the Chinese Singles Day discounts sales, there is also a chance to get discounts on items at any point in time. Here is how.
You can get a discount price and other privileges based on your “Taobao VIP ladder level”. This is the membership growth system ratings (from V0- V6) determined by your shopping activities on the website. The higher, the ‘V- level’ the greater the discount. Example, some shops might offer special discounts for V2-V4 users. When you first sign up on Taobao, your V-level is V0.
AliWangWang (Taobao Instant Chat)
In order to enhance good communication between shop owners and customers, special instant messaging software has been developed by the company. The software, named AliWangWang (阿里旺旺- ĀlǐWàngWàng) enables buyers and sellers to interact, bargain and inquire about products before purchasing.
It has a lot of functions similar to other instant messaging software programs and there are more than 48 million members. AliWangWang can take screen shots, has voice and video chats capabilities, helping buyers to understand the details of the sales transactions.
You can make friends, add people who have the same hobby as you, or find people who are also interested in a particular item you like.
Alipay is the main payment system on Taobao Marketplace that provides simple, safe and fast payment solutions. It is not only used on Taobao, but serves as a third-party payment solution for online transactions in China and abroad. Alipay has partnered with more than 180 Chinese and foreign banks as well as VISA, MasterCard and other international agencies to establish strategic partnerships.
Apart from Alipay, buyers can easily pay for items on Taobao by using the online payment systems by their banks. All the leading banks in China have their own payment solutions for transactions online. The payment methods provided these banks differ. However, no matter the bank, the payment methods are fairly easy and some of the banks even enable you to do the payment in English.