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Buying from Taobao / Tmall

Posted by AC Slater , 11 January 2013 · 143 views

Due to demand I'll guide you thru buying items from Taobao / Tmall. :lol:

[> What is Taobao / Tmall ?
Taobao.com and Tmall.com are two interrelated websites that make up one of the biggest online market platforms out there, with lots of vendors and resellers. You will find that even tablet manufacturers such as Ramos , Teclast , Window/YuanDao/Vido ( #1 , #2 , #3 , #4 ) and Ainol ( #1 / #2 / #3 / #4 ) have their own stores there ( also smartphone manufacturers such as Neomobile ). The thing is however, as an non-Chinese outsider, you can not just make an account and start ordering, because the sellers usually don't talk English (the sites are also not in English!), most only accept Chinese standardized banking methods and ship only around Asia. So, although it is very attractive to directly buy from e.g. Ainol, to keep costs down (resellers tend to add quite the margin), we can not directly do business with them ourselves. We will need somebody in China to help us. Since my guess is, you do not personally have friends and family there, let me tell you a bit about intermediates: agents.

[> What is an agent. Why do I need one, what does he do for me?
As discussed before, doesn't matter if you live in Brazil, The Netherlands, Russia or South Africa, you can't really do any direct business on Taobao / Tmall. You need someone who talks Chinese, lives in China and has diverse approved bankmethods. They are the middleman you need to buy something from Taobao / Tmall. When you find something you want to buy at either of these sites, you point out this item to your agent and tell him to order it for you. You'll have to pay the cost of the product + local shipping within China (usually local shipping is not that much, about 1,60 USD), this payment is called the '1st Payment'. Your agent will now go on the site you pointed him towards, so either Taobao or Tmall, and communicate with the vendor if the item is 'In stock', if so, places an order. If not, usually they will contact you if you want to wait, or they will bounce the order and refund you. Once the order is placed succesfully, a few days later they receive your item. They quickly look at the item's state and correctness and make some pictures (not all agents do this!) as proof that it has arrived and looks to be fine. They will also already wrap up the item, add a shippinglabel, weigh it and calculate the international shipping costs that will cover the journey from China to your doorstep. Now that you've seen the pictures and know the shippingcosts, you'll have to make a so called '2nd payment'. As where the '1st payment' included the cost of the item + shipping costs within China, the '2nd payment' covers international shipping costs and because they do not provide this service for free, because you're such a nice person and they like to help out, they ask you for a small fee, which is a percentage (usually around 8%) of the item costs known as 'commission'. So at this stage you pay commission + shipping costs. OR, you can still decide 'no wait, I do not want it, send it back' and cancel the order, there is a small cancellation fee though. But I assume you really want the item you wanted to buy, so you go along and make a transfer for the '2nd payment'. Then... they've had already packed your item and weighed it, they also put a shippinglabel on it before and acquired a tracking number, so you can track it all the way. Of course, from China, free shipping usually takes about 2 or 3 weeks. It could arrive faster, it could take a tad longer. But it is a nice suprise when it arrives, well worth the wait! :yahoo:

[> So, who wants to be my agent?
Well, there are quite a few agents out there. Just use your Google search skills and I'm sure you'll find some decent ones. Please do not ask me if some agent is trusted, I do not know every agent out there, you'll have to do some research and judge for yourself. I can however recommend you the one I use and the reason is fairly simple. I use MisterTao, and here are the reasons why:
  • It's a sidebusiness of Buyincoins (recommendercode: ' shizzo ' for 5% off), one of the longer existing and thrustworthy Chinese webshops out there with prompt handling and great customer service
  • With a new account you get a first deposit bonus of 10% up to max. 30 USD (e.g. deposit 100 USD, get as 10 USD bonus, your balance will be 110 USD)
  • You can get first time 50% off the commission by providing a recommender (if you don't know any, feel free to use mine: ' MisterShiz ')
  • Customer support is great and handling is pretty quick
  • You do not even need Taobao / Tmall , you can search using the site itself
  • If an item on Taobao / Tmall is discounted, usually the agent's site cannot make out the difference and lists/charges the original price, MisterTao has a whole subsite where you can get the discounted items. You can visit the Discount Zone here .
You should note: the paymentsystem consists of you having a balance-account on MisterTao, you deposit money with which you pay your '1st Payment' and '2nd Payment' out of that balance, so before buying make sure to estimate the total costs as well as you can (there is a calculator tool with every item, weight is in grams (not kilograms)), so you do not over- or underbalance your account. Currently Paypal is not supported, so you'll have to use other means. Transaction fee is approx. 3%, depending on method; so if you add 150 USD to your balance account, your card will be charged with 150 x 1,03 = 154,50 USD. But of course, if that was your first deposit, you would get the first deposit bonus of 15 USD as well. MisterTao uses budget registered shipping with tracking (China Post, Hong Kong Post and Singapore Post), but there's no express services such as DHL, UPS and FedEx (well EMS is availlable, but I wouldn't pay for this form of shipment, it's nowhere near as fast and reliable as the three previous mentioned premium services, but you do have to pay an awful lot; then rather just go with Singapore Post).

I have already placed many orders at MisterTao and am satisfied with their service. Other people seem to be happy with www.zarmark.com as well, which is a Lightake (Chinese webshop) sidebranch and as said before there are many other agents out there, it's really up to you.

[> Tracking your packages
I invite you to use any of the following:
Here's a cool app for tracking on your Android-device: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=br.com.tribotech.trackpack

[> Something to bear in mind
Agents do not have items in stock theirselves. They're just a middleman. They do not provide guarantee, since they're not the party who sell the goods, they only provide a service. If you have an issue and need to claim warranty, then it might be a little bit of a hassle, because the original seller is Chinese. You might have to ask your agent to help you out. Another thing you should definitly bear in mind is custom clearance: visit the website of your local government for information about import taxes and regulations! There's always risk you'll have to pay taxes when you're importing somewhat more expensive items from abroad.

Final word
There definitly are some perks to buying form Taobao and Tmall. You can directly buy from manufacturers, which greatly sinks costs and they've easier stock-access than resellers (who love to add a wide margin to the price). There are also other items than tablets and smartphones to be found, which are a little rarer to be found on sites such as AliExpress, ebaay or regular Chinese webstores (tip: use Chinaprices.us ).

I hope I've broadened your perspective and hope you'll soon be enjoying your Taobao / Tmall experience! Enjoy! :good:

  • yansta likes this



Having read your comments on Hero thread I decided to use this method. But for first time I tried some low cost orders, just to see how it performs.

So searched tabao for a android tv stick, and a remote control keyboard for it. Found what I needed (but translation is strange, the remote control is called a flying squirrel?!) and copied the url into mistertao.

As I'm in UK would imagine they begin work around about the time I go to bed. I ordered on Sunday, processed by Monday morning, received from the tabao stockist Tuesday, pictures and request for 2nd payment ready by Wednesday, status shipped by Thursday.

So far so good, appreciate it will take a couple of weeks to get here.

If everything is smooth I will consider this for ordering a tablet. I think I would rather pay for faster shipping for something like that though and I wonder if that will be more noticed by customs? I hope not.
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Having read your comments on Hero thread I decided to use this method. But for first time I tried some low cost orders, just to see how it performs.So searched tabao for a android tv stick, and a remote control keyboard for it. Found what I needed (but translation is strange, the remote control is called a flying squirrel?!) and copied the url into mistertao.As I'm in UK would imagine they begin work around about the time I go to bed. I ordered on Sunday, processed by Monday morning, received from the tabao stockist Tuesday, pictures and request for 2nd payment ready by Wednesday, status shipped by Thursday.So far so good, appreciate it will take a couple of weeks to get here.If everything is smooth I will consider this for ordering a tablet. I think I would rather pay for faster shipping for something like that though and I wonder if that will be more noticed by customs? I hope not.

Thanks for sharing. :lol: I've ordered myself a Mele F10 remote/keyboard/airmouse thru MisterTao (I got my MINIX NEO X5 from SPAMMER!). Also used MisterTao to get my Ainol Novo7 Aurora II and Fire, as well as my Neomobile N02-M (N002) and Jiayu G3. Some other stuff too, such as headphones (Takstar TS-650, HD5000 and HI1500) and some in-ear monitors (Cogoo! T02 for example). The service has been great so far. Sometimes the free shipping takes quite some time, but usually 2 or 3 weeks... I'm never really in a rush, so I do not mind. I never had any custom issues with my Taobao/Tmall ordered products. With free shipping the lack of attention your packages gets, actually is a big plus if you want to lower the risk of paying taxes.

Last order, Hero II, no expedited shipping method was availlable (UPS, DHL, FedEx, etc). Only EMS, but it's not that much faster than regular trackable free shipping, but you do pay the jackpot prize for it, so to me it surely is not worth the money to ship it using EMS. Besides, since they pay close attention to the shipment of your package because it's express shipping, there's a higher risk of having to comply with importduties.

Keep us updated. :good:
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So the "flying air squirrel" I ordered was on 6th Jan but that was a Sunday so maybe count as 7th. Arrived yesterday so only 10 days. Very impressive and more than happy with that.

The tracking app is pretty cool too.

I'll definately be using Mistertao again.
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All good info here, thank you.
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LittleDroid
Feb 27 2013 11:59 PM
Hi, AC Slater. Greetings from Indonesia. :)

Very great info You bring here (honestly, your blog is my main reason to join slatedroid :good: ).

Many of my online-friends (on a local forum) and I are curious too about buying China-tablets directly from China, especially because of the cheaper price than the imported-one (I am living in Indonesia). Or, sadly, because the particular item doesn't imported yet.

As we are being an end-user, we curiously and eagerly want to try your method. :rolleyes:

May I reprhase Your blog in my local forum? I would be very happy if you do.

Sorry for my bad english.
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Hi, AC Slater. Greetings from Indonesia. :)Very great info You bring here (honestly, your blog is my main reason to join slatedroid :good: ).Many of my online-friends (on a local forum) and I are curious too about buying China-tablets directly from China, especially because of the cheaper price than the imported-one (I am living in Indonesia). Or, sadly, because the particular item doesn't imported yet.As we are being an end-user, we curiously and eagerly want to try your method. :rolleyes: May I reprhase Your blog in my local forum? I would be very happy if you do.Sorry for my bad english.

Sorry about the late reply, I don't get any comment-updates. ;)

I'm glad this info is found to be useful. Feel free to share the post with credits.
I recently purchased quite some headsets to try out.
I've bought: tablets, in-ears, headphones, headsets and many more from Taobao/Tmall using MisterTao.
A lot of manufactors set-up store there, so it's very attractive to do deals there.
Latest order is this Takstar headphone (now 299 CNY), which usually retails for double the price: http://detail.tmall....?id=14677257297
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I've yet to send anything back to China, actually... And I've ordered hundreds of things totalled out of China through a variaty of Chinese webshops, AliExpress, eebay and of course MisterTao.

Certainly there were issues now and then, but I actually always managed to find a reasonable solution with the selling partner. I wouldn't standard pay more for different kinds of insurances which add up quite considerably. Maybe I'm just lucky, but this is what is best for me. Of course, you decide what is best for you for yourself and I'm not here to judge.
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um seems very expensive, when the convert it to USD the rate they use is really bad. something which is 899Y should be about 145$ but comes out as 187$ which is very bad. I think maybe some other agent my be cheaper.
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