Welcome to the ”How to China” guide. This is a BASIC guide for how to buy things from taobao and save your money. This does not cover group buys run partially or fully outside of taobao. A more advanced guide will be made at a later time to help you: get wechat/qq, get alipay, and learn to deal with Chinese GBs, also ordering from taobao direct.
Making a Chinese friend is a shortcut to learning how to china, because you don’t need to learn at all. Your friend very likely has qq, wechat, alipay, and a taobao account - also he or she probably speaks chinese. Make them buy you stuff, maybe buy them an ice cream to say thanks!
Now the actual guide:
Basics of Taobao
Taobao is an online marketplace in China, that is like amazon, and also ebay, all in one. It is amazon like in the way that a vendor can set up a web store and sell their items. And it is like ebay, in the way that individuals may list their used items for sale as well.
Taobao has a LOT of products. Compared to aliexpress, taobao is meant for mainland chinese use, and therefore is often 20-40% cheaper on items you find on ali/other chinese sites/sellers.
Taobao is also very well known for its fast fulfillment (generally items are shipping within mainland china in 1 day). Shipping out of China can also be far cheaper than shipping out of EU/US sometimes.
Buying directly from taobao without a proxy (like superbuy) can be risky, as the items are dispatched before being checked and qced by the proxy. Shipping can also be a lot more expensive, as taobao does not really consolidate packages well.
Your proxy will receive your taobao package within china, take qc pictures to make sure you have purchased the correct item, and then repack it alongside your other stuff to save on shipping.
How to sign up and use taobao (you will not be buying using taobao directly, simply browsing)
THIS IS A GUIDE FOR SETTING UP A TAOBAO ACCOUNT (just do step 2)
You don’t want to do any actual shopping on taobao, just browsing. So just create an account, if you do not create an account, you may get really annoying popups every 5 seconds telling you to sign in, when you don’t have an account. (this sucks)
Once you have an account, you will use the taobao website (including the image search) to find products that you wish to buy - you will then take the URLs of the products and input them into superbuy to purchase them.
As you will be browsing on taobao, you need to READ THE DESCRIPTIONS CAREFULLY! Some things might be a group buy without you knowing.
If you see an item for 999-999999999 Yuan, that generally means it is out of stock, and not actually 9999 yuan.
Generally, the descriptions are in image form under the product. You can read these images by using the google translate app on your phone, it has a mode where you point it at text and it will translate it on your screen.
Later on we will cover the terms you should know when looking at a taobao page that has been google translated to english or your local language
How to set up and use superbuy
Step 1: Sign up to Superbuy.com (you shouldn't need any help doing this or you are beyond saving)
Step 2: Use it
This is superbuy’s own guide on how to use their platform. In step 1, we are going to be using option 2 (inputting links from taobao), the rest is as normal.
This is a terrible looking, but actually great guide on the buying process on superbuy:
General things to know about the process:
-Superbuy basically will do the following:
-Assign an agent to your order/item
-The agent will order the items for you, and have them shipped to the superbuy warehouse
-Once they arrive at the warehouse you will be notified, the agent will take pictures of your items
-At this point you may submit the parcel (mark it to be shipped to you) OR you can send the product back (in case it's wrong, or a scam, or you are having a bad day)
-If your product has been submitted for shipping, you may at this point select multiple items and have them repacked into a smaller box (this is handy)
-Once this is done, you select which shipping provider you want, and you pay for the shipping, and you eventually get your box
Tips and tricks
Image search on Taobao
General idea for image search on taobao is if you’re on desktop - go on main site.
Up top you will see a search bar.
Search for whatever and hit search as the reverse img search is only avail on the search result page
You will see a camera icon, click that to reverse image search
Upload a saved image from another website
Used to find suspicious products that look like they come from China. (like keycap pullers, switch openers, cheap keysets, and other kb accessories)
Dealing with GBs (delayed shipping due to customized products)
Generally, a superbuy agent will order an item for you as soon as you have paid (within a day or so), once they do this, they expect the item to be shipped quickly (within a couple days). They will generally DM the seller to ask for shipping updates and if there have been no replies after a few days (up to a week or so) THEY WILL CANCEL YOUR ORDER, because they think the seller is never going to ship it.
The way of dealing with GBs or with customized items (like custom cables) is to send a message to the agent within the item purchased. And let them know “This is a customized product, it may take some time to ship, please do not worry about delays” ← literally use this exact text.
PLEASE tip your agent a couple of USD, this way they keep in mind to check up on the status once in a while (a couple dollars goes a long way).
Warehouse storage at Superbuy
When delivering items to Superbuy, there is a time duration of which Superbuy will keep your items in their warehouse. They do not charge you for this in the first three months of storage.
After these three months, they may dispose of your items if you do not reach out to contact them and see if it is possible to pay in order to extend the duration.
This is especially useful in cases where you have ordered a deskmat or expensive to ship item and you need some additional lead time in order to get more things to reduce additional shipping costs.
Please be careful when storing items. Sometimes they may not reach out to you after these three months of storage have elapsed.
Dealing with higher than anticipated shipping costs
Sometimes after you make an order and finally get to the shipping stage, you may realize that the shipping cost is far higher than you expected. This is probably because you bought something like a deskmat or a keyboard carrying case - volumetric shipping is a thing, and it depends on VOLUME not just weight.
At this point you have three options:
1. Add more stuff to your order (see with friends if they also want something from taobao) and split the shipping cost amongst friends. Paying $40 for 2 deskmats is a lot, paying $50 for 2 des mats and 300 switches, and 500 springs, and 20 sets of stabs - that’s much better.
2. Leave the product in the warehouse, where it will be kept for 3-6 months before they toss it out, this gives you time to make your order larger
3. Return the item, you will still pay a small fee, but it won't be $60 shipping for a $4 deskmat
Detailed product images
For detailed product images, once you order an item and it has been delivered to Superbuy, they will send you a preliminary QC photo in order to show you the product.
In some cases, it is possible that the QC photo is only from one angle or does not show the important things: quality of anodization, quality of printing on deskmat, etc.
Generally when ordering detailed product images (a service that you do need to pay extra for), make sure to give a visual example of the type of photo that you want
Use your phone to take an example photo for them.
People at Superbuy don’t understand when you tell them what you want. Show them what you want rather than tell - a picture tells a thousand words.
Generally gravitate towards items/shops with higher ratings/amounts of purchases /
Read product reviews
When searching for an item using a search term, may it be a switch /keycap type, it is in your best interest to search by the amount of sales as shown in the picture below
Generally vendors with a large amount of sales will offer a better product and ship faster than vendors with fewer sales
When seeing an enticing item, it could be a new product or a new vendor, however, make sure you get a product from a vendor with a large amount of sales.
You can see an established store with the amount of diamonds, crowns, hearts, etc.
Just as highly rated items are preferred, you should also prefer stores with high ratings.
Click on the reviews tab within the taobao product page to see what people are saying
The text and pictures shown by reviewers are quintessential to the acquisition of a superior product.
Consider yourself responsible for getting a subpar product if you have not read the reviews.
Items to avoid (shipping constraints)
Lube is problematic, if you order lube on Taobao, they will ship it to Superbuy
Superbuy cannot ship lube internationally due to regulation prohibiting export of liquids from China
Batteries: Loose batteries are frowned upon when it comes to air travel.
If the item itself contains a battery, that’s okay - however, if there is a free floating battery, it may be restrained. Please avoid batteries altogether for the safety of the nation.
Bonus tip: You can mail leaded solder from CN to EU without an issue pretty much all the time (as long as the customs declarations dont say “leaded solder” and they wont
Dealing with cash on delivery for sus group buys and other items:
In the case of ordering a group buy that will charge you for shipping on delivery (within china), you may have issues. 到付 is a term you should ALWAYS check for when entering a group buy. You will have to turn off translation on the page and search for “到付”.
If 到付 is on the page, this means that shipping will be paid on delivery - if Superbuy is not made aware of this BEFORE they get your package, they may reject it.
The way to prevent this is to message the agent for the particular item, letting them know that the item’s shipping will be charged on delivery. You can either let them know in advance that you are willing to bear the shipping cost, or willing to pay in advance for the shipping cost, they will arrange this for you if they are made aware ahead of time. This would be a good opportunity to tip your agent a couple of dollars so they dont cuck you.
Search terms you should know
When searching on taobao, you should search using the CHINESE names for any products you are looking for, unless its a brand name like “gateron”
Make sure to translate “search terms” into Chinese if possible.
Simple, general things to remember. You will acclimatize yourself upon browsing Taobao for long periods of time, hunting for good deals.
Baby = product
Satellite shaft = stabilizer
Paragraph = tactile bump
“Legged” Axis (the number of legs on the bottom of the switch 3 means plate mount, 5 means pcb mount)
Tea shaft = brown switch (tea can also mean green, good luck)
Wine shaft = red
Jiadalong = name for Gateron
-Avoid buying around CNY(chinese new year), or else everything may be delayed 2-4 weeks (have fun)
-When submitting a package request in Superbuy, you can mark a lower value on the package within the superbuy interface (this may or may not work for evading customs where you live as you will need to provide an invoice, good luck)
-Don’t shop on secondhand Taobao (xianyu) until you are comfortable with the interface and the behavior of Chinese sellers. It’s easy to get cucked thinking you have a good deal. (superbuy is rather helpful on this front as you can send items back if they do not match the desc most of the time - but be smart)
-If you find an interesting product while browsing the site, try visiting the storefront to see if they have any additional lucrative deals/items! Click “see all babes” in the top left of the store banner
-Take a lesser deal from a reputed store over a shady vendor.
Advanced guide, coming soon to a theater near you
The advanced guide will cover the following, and other things I think of:
Using aliwangwang to communicate with seller
Learning how to not come across as a dumb foreigner and get cucked
Thanks to treeleaf64 for helping with the creation of this doc
Yay! : ) -treeleaf