Taobao Toolkit: How do I know if a shop can be trusted?

Trust issues. We all have them.
Even more so when it means giving money to a faceless shop with a name you can’t read located halfway around the world.

Who’s got trust issues? NOT ME.

Luckily, Taobao has a suite of tools for shoppers to arm themselves with against the interwebs! And we’re here to teach you how to use it.

Evaluating a shop before you sink your money into it is no different from evaluating a blind date. 3 key areas you need to look out for:
1. Reputation
2. Reviews/ Feedback
3. Other indicators

1. Reputation
Every transaction that happens on Taobao is a chance for shoppers to unleash their wrath rate a shop in real-time. Shops are kept on their toes by buyers who wield the power to review both product quality and service standards.

After you’ve completed your transaction and received your items, hit 评价 to review your overall experience of the shop.

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You’ll be directed to this page:
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See the 3 flowers at the top?
It doesn’t take much to figure out that:

Red Flower = Good (好评), +1 point
Yellow Flower = Average (中评), 0 points
Grey Flower = Bad (差评), -1 point

If only we could rank our Tinder dates the same way. (Late for the date? Yellow flower. Insipid conversation? Grey flower!)

Next, you can review the shop in 3 specific aspects
1. Product
2. Service
3. Delivery
…with the help of the star ranking system!

The Star Ranking System
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5 Stars – Excellent. Product was exactly as promised. You are very satisfied!
4 Stars – Good. Product was close to what was promised. You are generally satisfied.
3 Stars – Average. Product looks almost like the image if you squint your eye and at least it works.
2 Stars – Bad. Product is faulty and badly made.
1 Star – You got a lemon! You are very angry and never want to shop at Taobao again. You tell yourself your should’ve listened to your friends and stomp off to the nearest mall in a huff.

Every day, millions of flowers and stars are awarded to shops on Taobao, and shops are ranked according to the reviews they received starting from hearts (the lowest ranking), followed by diamonds, blue crowns and finally yellow crowns.

Taobao Reputation System

There are a whopping 20 levels to the top. Needless to say, you can’t go wrong with shops with yellow crowns and you should probably give shops with hearts a miss.

The fun doesn’t stop here – you can even do a follow up review after you’ve used the product – simply hit 追加评论 (Follow-up Review).

2. Reviews and feedback
Like Amazon, you can see reviews of the item you plan to buy by clicking on the tab 累计评论 (Accumulated Feedback).

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The reviews include IRL photos uploaded by previous buyers that will give you an idea of how the product REALLY looks like. No photoshop!
Buyers will also give their honest feedback in the comments.

Still unsure? You can even leave a question to previous buyers, just hit 问大家 (Ask Everyone)!
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3. Other Indicators
As a final fail-safe, there are other indicators to help you decide too.
A quick scroll-over of a shop’s name will give you a drop-down with a snap-shot of the shop’s reputation and status.
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The shop’s status is compared against the industry benchmark with 0 being the lowest and 5 being the highest.

The matrix varies slightly, depending on the product category, but in general the system follows 3 benchmarks: 1. Product, 2. Service and 3. Domestic Delivery.

Tip: look out for the shops with the ‘Gold Medal Seller’ icon – this indicates that the seller’s service is much higher than average.
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This highly-coveted ranking is award by Taobao on a monthly basis.
Which means sellers have to do everything they can to ensure that they make the cut every month!
It’s a pretty sweet system that ensure that the ratings are kept up to date.


Yet another indicator? The sales volume of a shop.
The more sales a shop makes – the more likely they are to be a safe bet (and the more likely it is that reviews are accurate). Just look at 月销量 (Monthly Sales) – if more than 190 units of the product is sold monthly, you’re pretty much home safe.
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That’s pretty much all you need to know for safe shopping on Taobao – we hope it helps!

Had a good or bad experience shopping on Taobao? We’re all ears. Share them in our comments section, we might even be able to help 😉


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. Hi, I want to purchase stuff on Taobao but having a hard time finding out shipping cost to the US. I use Chrome so it does translate somewhat and when ever I click on the icon to ask the sale representative I get a blank page. Thanks!


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