Taobao Toolkit: Getting your loot delivered – Part 1

Kantangs, angmohpais and other non-speakers-of-Chinese.
It’s time to stop sitting on your basketful of wistfully saved Taobao items, and face your biggest fear – getting your loot delivered from China.

Every time you’re force to read Chinese.

Lucky for you, we’re on your side. Our editor happens to be one of your number (scored single-digits on one memorable Chinese exam, didn’t know the teacher was calling her in class because she didn’t know the correct pronunciation to her name – TRUE STORY).

Login to your Taobao account now, and read on, because we’re about to help you achieve something that’ll amaze all your bi-lingual friends.

Editor’s note: This guide will give you an overview of the shipping process and options available, but it is not an exhaustive step-by-step. A more detailed guide will be out soon!

Why getting stuff delivered from Taobao seems difficult at first:
Domestic and International delivery
In order for your loot to be delivered to you, it has to first travel across China (domestic delivery) and then across sea/air (international delivery) before it reaches you.

We’ll go through the easy bit first.

PART 1: Domestic Delivery
When purchasing items, you’ll usually be offered 2 or more options for domestic delivery that will cost anything from  RMB10 – 30 (SGD2.15 – 6.50).
Unless your item is very costly,  we recommend taking the cheaper option (you did start shopping on Taobao because you wanted to save money, right?)

But if you’re afraid you’ll lose your item, take the more expensive EMS option.

Often times, most shops offer free domestic delivery.
How do you know when it’s free?
You’ll see the words ‘快递 包邮’, ‘快递 免运费’ or ‘快递 0.00’ at the purchase page. Lucky you!

You can even filter your search for items that have no shipping fee by turning on the ‘包邮’ filter.

More moolah saved for your next Taobao spree!

Domestic shipping costs are reflected into the total cost when you’re submitting your complete order at the check out page:

PART 2: International Delivery
There are 3 delivery routes that you can choose from:
1. Direct shipping from the shop (店家直运)
2. Through Tao Bao’s Forwarding Service partners (淘宝集运/ 转运)
3. Through 3rd Party Forwarding Service providers (第三方代购服务)

Whoa…which one do I choose?
Here’s where it gets a little tricky.
The delivery route you choose depends on what you are shipping.
These are our recommendations based on 3 main scenarios:

Scenario 1: I need something delivered URGENTLY.

C’mon, an article on delivery must be super boring. Here’s a little Archer to help you unclench.

Option 1 – Direct shipping from the shop (店家直运)
What it is: The shop will deliver your items directly to you via international courier service.
Cost: $$$ (Expensive)
Delivery speed: Fast – 1 to 1.5 weeks

– It’s fast.
– You only have to pay once; when you’re checking out your items.
– You can use this option to deliver certain items that can’t be delivered via Option 2: Tao Bao’s Forwarding Service partners (淘宝集运转运)

– It’s the most expensive option.

Use this option only if you need something delivered urgently, or if you purchased very light items.

Scenario 2: I didn’t buy anything heavy duty. Clothes, shoes, home furnishing items…etc.

So you bought a bunch of stuff from Tao Bao…if it won’t fill a shipping container, you can give Option 2 a shot!

Option 2 – Tao Bao’s Forwarding Service partners (淘宝集运/ 
What it is: Tao Bao’s official Forward Service partners who you can engage to get your items delivered by air from China to where you live.
Some providers: 4PX (递四方) and DPEX
Cost: $$ (Moderate)
Delivery speed: Moderately fast – 2 to 2.5 weeks

– This shipping service is officially recognised by Taobao. Which means that it is more trustworthy. It is also linked to Taobao’s tracking system which makes tracking your item super easy. Making enquiries on the shipping status is easy, too.
– Your items will take up to 2 weeks to reach you; which is moderately quick.

– Certain products can’t be shipped via Tao Bao’s Forwarding Service partners including electronics, pet products and food related products. See the full list here.

Scenario 3: I did some heavy-duty shopping at Taobao.
Option 3 – 3rd Party Forwarding Service providers (第三方代购服务)

C’mon. We wouldn’t be able to call ourselves proud Singaporeans otherwise.

What it is: 3rd part Forwarding Service companies that are able to deliver your loot at a competitive prices, because they offer delivery by sea.
Some providers: 65 Daigou
Cost: $ (Low)
Delivery speed: Slow – 2.5 to 4 weeks

– Did you purchase an entire kitchen, living room and bedroom  from Taobao? This option is definitely worth the pain. Shipping heavy furniture and home fixtures (sinks, living room tables, chairs, lights) through options 1 & 2 will cost you a fortune otherwise.
– You’ll have a wide range of delivery options to choose from – including by sea, which is much, much cheaper than by air.
– You can use this option to deliver certain items that can’t be delivered via Option 2: Tao Bao’s Forwarding Service partners (淘宝集运/ 转运)

– This option is pretty tedious to use, mainly because each 3rd party provider uses a different web-interface and payment method which will definitely take some getting used to.
– For example, 65daigou – a popular 3rd Party Forwarding Service provider – requires shoppers to deposit money in their 65daigou account, which shoppers can then use to make the necessary payment. Direct payment via credit card is not allowed.

If you didn’t purchase anything heavy duty, this is also a great option if you have the patience of a saint.

Now, feeling a little less queasy about shopping on Taobao?


In our next article: a step-by-step guide on arranging a delivery, and most importantly – how to estimate delivery costs under each method.

Thank you for reading – and stay tuned 🙂

Team Taobao Hacks







Author: Taobao Hacks

The ultimate guide to shopping at Tao Bao! Not everything on Tao Bao has look like it was made in a sweat shop in China. We curate the best of Tao Bao - from fashionable threads that wouldn't look out of place on the streets of Paris and Milan, furniture that looks like it came out of a Kinfolk magazine, tech products that will please even the geekiest techhead and anything else that you could possibly dream of buying. But prettier.

3 thoughts

  1. I failed my Mandarin class. That’s why I love Taobao hacks. But unfortunately, I cannot buy anything as the links will bring me to the shop’s Chinese website and I’m totally lost. Don’t know where to navigate to and afraid that I may click on the wrong thing and get charged for something I did not order.

    I would prefer to be able to buy from an English site like yours.


    1. Hey Hefferich, we feel your pain. You can actually try using Google Translate or a third-party Taobao shopping service (like ezbuy). The downside is that your choices tend to be a little limited, and items maybe slightly pricer – but you won’t have to get your Chinese dictionary out 🙂
      Hope this helps.


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