This article was written in collaboration with Taobao Singapore. All views expressed in this article are the independent opinion of DollarsAndSense.sg based on our research. DollarsAndSense.sg is not liable for any financial losses that may arise from any transactions and readers are encouraged to do their own due diligence. You can view our full editorial policy here.
Whether you are a new homeowner looking for affordable furnishing options or someone who loves online shopping, Taobao is a brilliant place to start looking for hidden gems and cheap steals. With a large amount and variety of products available, Taobao is a paradise for seasoned online shoppers.
If you are a novice Taobao shopper or feel overwhelmed (and intimidated by all the Chinese), don’t worry. We won’t just walk you through how to save money and time when shopping on Taobao, as navigating the shipping options – in a convenient and cost-effective manner – is arguably more important to master.
Taobao: A Treasure Trove For Online Shopping. But Consolidated Shipping Can Be Complicated
Having recently moved into a new flat, affordable furnishing options have been high on my shopping list. Whenever I ask about a nice furniture piece at my friends’ new BTO flats, the answer is almost always “Taobao”. Not only does Taobao have a greater variety of furnishings, fixtures and appliances available, but their prices are often much more competitive than what is available locally. Assuming that you have a local contractor or handyman to do the necessary installation, this can mean significant cost savings.
However, all of them also had stories about consolidating shipping, messaging sellers in *gasp* Chinese and dealing with defects and refunds. This was probably the one thing that made me hesitant to start shopping on Taobao. When my friend recommended a Taobao automated laundry rack that is popular among new flat owners and selling at almost half the price quoted locally, I decided that I had to give it a go.
While my non-Mandarin-speaking colleague’s successful attempt at shopping on Taobao had emboldened me to start browsing Taobao, my first attempt did not go as smoothly.
As a novice Taobao shopper, I had unwittingly chosen the most complicated shipping method: consolidated shipping (官方集运). With consolidated shipping, you would have to wait for individual items to ship to the warehouse (入库), request for a packing (合包) once all your products had arrived at the warehouse, then pay a consolidated shipping fee. Additionally, I had to partake in the terrible deed of communicating in written Mandarin because my item is an unusual size that required a shipping method that can accommodate at least 1.5m in length.
The dreaded 亲亲
Unfortunately, since I have long “returned” my Mandarin written skills to my Chinese teachers, I swiftly aborted mission and requested a refund (退款).
We Can Use Taobao’s Direct Delivery To Ship Directly To Singapore
Thankfully, I learned that there are much easier ways of shipping with Taobao. The first is Direct Delivery (官方直邮). This can be done via air (空运) or sea freight (海运), with air shipping being much faster but more expensive.
|Taobao Shipping Options||Rates (Doorstep delivery)|
(Direct delivery by air)
|20 RMB for the first 0.5 kg
17 RMB for subsequent 0.5kg
(Max limit: 25kg)
(Direct delivery by sea freight)
|30 RMB (less than 1kg)
17 RMB/kg (Up to 10kg)
14 RMB/kg (From 10 – 30kg)
(Max limit: 30kg)
In the case of the automatic laundry rack that I had originally purchased, the seller did have the option of Direct Delivery (官方直邮). Look out for these characters if you wish to buy products available for Direct Delivery.
Be aware that you still need to select the Direct Delivery (官方直邮) option when checking out. In my first order, I unintentionally selected Consolidated Shipping (官方集运) as one of the items in my cart did not qualify for Direct Delivery.
If an item in your order does not qualify for Direct Delivery (官方直邮), it would be automatically removed when you select the Direct Delivery option. Note that you may be left waiting for that one last item that never arrives because it was never checked out in the first place.
Another easy mistake (that I actually made) is to choose Consolidated Shipping (官方集运) instead of Direct Delivery (官方直邮) at the check-out. So, ensure that all items in your cart is eligible for Direct Delivery or check them out separately.
Direct Delivery Is A Simple And Straightforward Way To Ship Our Taobao Haul To Singapore
With Direct Delivery (官方直邮), it’s as easy to shop on Taobao as any of our local shopping apps.
Choosing Direct Delivery (官方直邮) means that we can quickly see how much shipping fee is incurred and there is no additional round of shipping fee to worry about.
This is unlike opting for Consolidated Shipping (官方集运), where we have to pay an additional round of shipping fees, as well as coordinate all the packages to arrive at the warehouse in time for consolidation. Sometimes, a seller may not ship to the warehouse in time for consolidation and we may incur additional storage and shipping fees. This can be overly complicated for a casual or novice Taobao shopper, but Direct Delivery skips all these extra steps to make shipping simple and straightforward.
Aside from checking the item’s shipping option, we can also directly browse items that have Direct Delivery (官方直邮) right from the Taobao home page.
Enjoy Fuss-Free And Free Shipping When You Shop In Taobao’s ¥299 Free Shipping Zone
For those of us who hate paying for shipping, Taobao’s ¥299 Free Shipping Zone is perfect.
To qualify for free shipping, (1) all the items must qualify within the free shipping zone and (2) the minimum order of at least ¥299 (after all the stackable promos and coupons are applied) must be met. Items that qualify under free shipping are automatically indicated with “满 ¥299 SG包邮”.
We can either choose to browse under the category “满 ¥299 SG包邮” or check the item’s shipping indicator individually.
Selecting 满 ¥299 SG包邮 category
To check the item’s shipping indicator
It is easy to get carried away within the Free Shipping Zone because we only need to meet a minimum order of ¥299 which translates to about S$60 to qualify for free shipping.
One (good) problem we may face is that sometimes our total bill falls below the prerequisite ¥299 after we stack all the applicable discounts, coupons, promo codes and coins. Of course, the easy solution is to just add a few more items to our cart! In some sense, this feels like selecting a freebie for ourselves if it happens.
Within the Free Shipping Zone, we don’t need to worry about shipping costs. While the individual items do look to be slightly pricier than items outside of the Free Shipping Zone, the convenience we enjoy makes the shopping experience more pleasant, especially if we are buying only a few items adding up to the minimum ¥299.
For instance, I was able to buy 2 new sets of matching fitness wear that qualified under the Free Shipping Zone (“满¥299 SG包邮”) and not pay for any shipping. Additionally, because the items were also under Direct Delivery (官方直邮), there was no need to monitor for warehousing and consolidation.
Discounts Apply Regardless Of The Shipping Method Used
Regardless of the shipping method we use, Taobao offers a variety of discounts for its users. For the current 618 (or June 18) sales, we will be able to enjoy additional cross-shop discounts and exclusive credit card promotions.
For cross-shop discounts (淘宝天猫跨店满减), we can enjoy RMB20 off every RMB200 on participating Taobao shops and RMB50 off every RMB300 on participating Tmall shops. This discount applies across the various shops, so we won’t have to stick to a single seller for our shopping spree. Additionally, we can also stack cross-shop discounts with other shop vouchers and promo codes for even more savings.
On top of these discounts, Taobao is also offering credit/ debit card promotions (新加坡银行优惠) with 6 local banks (DBS/ OCBC/ UOB/ HSBC/ Citibank/ Maybank). We can enjoy up to S$12 off when we pay with an eligible bank. Do note it is limited in quantity so do check out the terms and conditions before checking out. Savvy shoppers can stack this credit/debit card promotion on top of shop vouchers and promo codes. However, it is not stackable with other types of payment discounts.
Especially for DollarsAndSense readers, you can enjoy an exclusive discount of ¥40 with a minimum spend of ¥599 with the promo code TB618DS. This promotion is valid from 15 June (8 pm) to 20 June (11.59 pm); limited redemptions available. Shop now to enjoy the most rewards.