Need help navigating the maze that is TaoBao? You’ve come to the right place!

Especially when Mandarin isn’t exactly your strongest suit or maybe you can’t read/speak even a smidgen of Mandarin, navigating TaoBao can get quite frustrating!

This article will shed light on some of the more confusing aspects of TaoBao-ing such as the different types of shipping services, that mysterious extra 3% charged to your credit card and the myriad coupons available to you (but are unsure of their purposes).

  1. Shipping Methods- Direct Shipping & Consolidate Shipping

TaoBao shipping methods
Image credit: TaoBao

Direct Shipping

This is the default and most straightforward choice. Through this method, TaoBao ships your items to you directly. No further action is required to arrange for the delivery of the goods beyond the point of sale. However, the shipping cost is more expensive than that of Consolidate Shipping. But I guess this extra cost could be regarded as a fee for convenience since you’ll only need to make a one-time payment!

Consolidate Shipping

On the other hand, the payment process for Consolidate Shipping is a two-step process.

First, you’ll need to pay for your goods and the domestic shipping fee. This domestic shipping fee is the fee paid for the delivery of your item from the seller to a warehouse in China. Once all the parcels have arrived at the warehouse, you’ll then be able to consolidate all of your items and have it delivered to you. This is when you’ll make your second payment- the international shipping fee.

The international shipping fee will be determined by weight. The maximum weight for each shipment is 30 kg. If the total weight of your goods exceeds 30 kg, you will need to split up the shipment into 2 or more separate ones. Likewise, if you had placed your order with over 20 sellers, you’ll need to split up the shipment regardless of the number of items.

  1. Shipping Is Paid Separately for Your Order for Consolidate Shipping

Especially when you’ve purchased many items, it is likely that you’ll need to wait quite awhile for all of your goods to arrive at the warehouse in China. If you’re forgetful like me, it might slip your mind to keep track of when your orders arrive at the warehouse. And you’ll be left wondering why is it that your items are taking forever to be delivered.

Well, that’s because you’ve yet to consolidate your items and pay the international shipping fee on TaoBao. You have no idea how many times this has happened to me in the past. So make a note somewhere to remind yourself to check the status of your parcels regularly!

Also! Your items can only be stored at the warehouse for a maximum of 20 days. Subsequently, you’ll be charged ¥1 (Chinese yuan) per day for storage.

  1. Consolidate Shipping Is Cheaper

TaoBao shipping cost
Image credit: TaoBao

It really is! Usually. Unless you’re buying just 1 item then maybe Direct Shipping would be a better option. It also depends on the shipping fee for the item(s). Here’s a price comparison for you:

Direct Shipping

TaoBao checkout page
Image credit: TaoBao
TaoBao checkout page
Image credit: TaoBao

Say, I would like to purchase these 3 items- 2 pairs of shoes and a dress.

The prices indicated above for each item includes the domestic shipping fee to the warehouse in China.

TaoBao direct shipping fee
Image credit: TaoBao

Direct international shipping to Malaysia would cost me ¥99 (approx. RM59.79)

Total cost = ¥159 + ¥69 +¥49 + ¥99 (international shipping fee) = ¥376 (approx. RM227)

Consolidate Shipping

As mentioned earlier, the cost of Consolidate Shipping is determined by the total weight of the goods consolidated.

TaoBao purchase items
Image credit: TaoBao

I got the weight estimation for each product here.

TaoBao shipping cost
Image credit: TaoBao

TaoBao consolidate shipping fee calculation

Total cost = ¥159 + ¥69 +¥49 + ¥62 (consolidate shipping fee) = ¥339 (approx. RM205)

You save RM22!

  1. Batteries Can’t Be Shipped Over

Batteries are considered sensitive goods and can’t be shipped internationally. So stuff like power banks and anything else battery-operated usually can’t be shipped over. I say “usually” because there are a few ways around it. Battery-operated clocks and lamps, for example, may be delivered to Malaysia if you make a request to the seller to have the batteries in the items removed.

Besides, while you can’t have power banks delivered to you through Direct Shipping, it is possible through Consolidated Shipping. To be sure, it is best to contact the seller directly and ask if they would be able to ship it to Malaysia.

Here is how you can contact the seller on TaoBao:

Desktop Messaging

TaoBao black shoe purchase screenshot
Image credit: TaoBao

Click on this button that is located on the bottom right-hand corner of the webpage.

Mobile Messaging Through TaoBao App

TaoBao mobile messaging screenshot
Image credit: TaoBao

Click on this button located on the bottom left-hand corner of the app.

  1. Messaging Can Be Difficult Too

When you can’t speak and read Mandarin, how can you ask the seller anything?

2 ways!

Firstly, you could use Google Translate. It is accurate most of the time.

Google Translate

Alternatively, you could also ask a Mandarin-speaking friend to help you out. I’m sure they’d be happy to help!

  1. Sizing May Be Inaccurate

Different clothes
Image credit:

There were a few times when I’ve purchased clothes that indicated that they are a certain measurement but turns out to be a lot bigger or smaller than I’d thought it would to be. Imagine my chagrin when I tried on a dress that had a lot more flare at the hips than I’d expected and made me look like an upside-down tulip.

One way to avoid such an incident is to look at customers’ reviews for a product. I know, I know, you can’t read Mandarin. But here’s a solution for you!

Browse TaoBao on Google Chrome.

Google Chrome lets you translate a page to English or any other language that you’re most comfortable with. Simply right click anywhere on the page, then click “Translate to English” and… voilà!

TaoBao review
Image credit: TaoBao

You now know the gist of a customer’s review which could give you a better idea of how the item will fit you. It’s even better when a customer includes a picture of it in their review.

  1. 3% Transaction Fee For Credit Cards

credit card vector
Image credit:

Yep! That mysterious extra 3% charged to your credit card is a transaction fee that is imposed by 3rd party financial providers processing your payment. If you’d like to avoid that extra cost, you could opt for Internet Banking or ATM Fund Transfer.

  1. Types of Coupons

coupons vector
Image credit:
  • 无门槛券: coupon with no minimum spend required
  • 满___券: coupon with a minimum spend of ___
  • 关注/收藏即领: receive a coupon if you save the store to your favourites
  • 跨店券: coupon is valid across different stores
  • 仅限1111: coupon is only valid when you check out on 11 November

Keep track of your coupons by following these steps: 我的淘宝 (top of page) > 我的优惠信息 > 优惠卡券


Making Taobao Easy For You

If you still find Taobao complicated even after these tips, fret not. We’ll be coming up with a downloadable dictionary for your shopping needs. Or you could start by reading our Taobao ultimate guide: The Ultimate Guide With Protips: How To Taobao And Tmall Like A Pro.

And as always, click through ShopBack for that extra cashback on your Taobao loot. From now till 22nd September 2018, you’ll get up to 30% cash rewards, an extra RM 5 with our cashback buddy extension, and free shipping on your Home & Living purchases on Taobao and Tmall. Also, do keep a lookout for Taobao coupons to get extra discounts.