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So you want to buy from Taobao, China’s online mega-wonderland where you can get practically anything and everything at cheap prices. But it’s tricky to shop on Taobao, and you need more than just a knowledge of Chinese (or Google Translate) to be able to shop on TB.  Sometimes you have to liaise directly with sellers before purchasing; other times, figuring out shipping direct from Taobao can be a nightmare for noobs. So how?

There are three ways. Buy on Lazada’s Taobao section, though its selection is somewhat limited. You could also beg a TB-savvy friend to shop for you. Or, pay a Taobao agent to help you buy direct and ship it to Singapore — hassle-free. That was what we did.

You may hear terms such as Taobao agents and third-party freight forwarders used interchangeably, but they’re different. Taobao agents act as the middleman between you and sellers, helping you to purchase, consolidate and ship items here. Third-party freight forwarders only help you ship from China to Singapore — you have to buy on Taobao and arrange domestic shipping in China yourself. Agents and freight forwarders are not affiliated to Taobao.

What does a Taobao agent do?
They help you purchase, consolidate and ship to Singapore. They also liaise with Taobao sellers in China if need be, for example, if something is out of stock or there’s something you need to customise. Some also check the quality of the items once they arrive at their warehouse in China, and consolidate purchases if you’re buying from several sellers and ship them all to Singapore in the most cost-efficient way.

One thing to note: these are not sourcing services, so you need to have the URLs of the products you want. Can’t read Chinese? Take a screenshot of the product you want to buy and use the image search function on Taobao to do a preliminary search, which should generate more than enough options. Still can’t find what you’re looking for? Copy and paste the product title and do a text search. Depending on what you purchase, you may need to know a teeny bit of Chinese, so have a friend at the ready to help.

We recently tried the services of two Taobao agents — Oops.sg and ezshop (under ezbuy) — to purchase home décor items from Taobao.

Here’s an 8Days.sg review of Oops.sg and ezshop's services.

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