07 March 2012

Why Shop When You Can Taobao? 購物不如淘寶

Imagine you wanted to show up at work every day carrying a different Hermès handbag. Imagine you had a six-month-old baby at home who was in constant need of diapers and baby formula. And imagine you had just bought a new apartment and you needed to furnish the whole place from living room to kitchen. Don’t go looking at the Landmark, Watson’s, or IKEA, because retail shopping is so 2007. Instead, you can stay right at home and start treasure hunting online at Taobao (淘寶), the world’s biggest marketplace. It is Shopping 3.0.

An e-tail juggernaut

Taobao is the Internet’s best kept secret. The site, which literally means searching for treasures in Mandarin, is a combination of Amazon and eBay. It is increasingly the first place Chinese shoppers look to for clothing, cosmetics and everyday household supplies. If you can type it in Chinese, they will sell it. Some of the strangest items sold include...


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Read the rest of this article in No City for Slow Men, published by Blacksmith Books, available at major bookstores in in Hong Kong and at Blacksmith Books.



14 comments:

  1. I like the first paragraph of the article. Funny but true~~~ especially the term “Shopping 3.0”. haha~~~

    I have become a big fan of Taobao since last year. I had never thought of shopping at Taobao as I thought the goods there were fake and full of flaws. However, one of my best friends loved shopping there and when I saw what she bought, I decided to give it a try. The things there are cheap and of good quality. But the most important thing is that you can find many of those products being sold in Hong Kong with whopping prices. It’s stupid and ridiculous if I buy these stuff in Hong Kong when they are sold at much cheaper prices at Taobao. And they look exactly the same as what I see in Hong Kong. My mum just bought a wallet in a shopping centre yesterday. I tried to stop her before she bought it as I thought it could be found at Taobao at a much cheaper price. But she insisted as she really liked it and she was afraid that it would be sold out later. Last night, I tried to look for the same wallet on the site and it was there. It cost only half the price!!! My mum was traumatized…..

    Now, when I spot something I really like, I will check out the site first for fear that I will buy them at unreasonable prices. However, I feel annoyed when I place an order at Taobao. To me, it’s too complicated. Luckily, I’ve got my best friend to help me. Very often we will buy things together so that we can share the delivery fees which are already very low. I really can’t find any reasons not to shop at Taobao. :P

    Lily

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  2. This piece is well researched and I especially enjoyed the personal touch at its end.

    However, selling things on Taobao isn't exactly something to brag about. My relatives in China feel pity for those college students turning their dorm rooms into warehouses and trying to sell things on Taobao, some of them long after graduation - it often means they cannot find a real job.

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  3. Also, as a mainlander, I glazed over and almost yawned when I saw the word Taobao in your title. And the tone by which you introduced something so everyday, with a sense of real discovery, sort of cracked me up. But it's understandable when its targeted audience are westerner. Just my opinion, with all due respect..

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  4. Hi Lily,

    Thank you for sharing your own Taobao shopping experiences. I laughed out loud when I read that you mother was "traumatized" by overpaying! It looks like Taobao gives you not only cheap, good quality merchandise, but also great opportunities to bond with your family and friends!

    Cheers,

    Jason

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  5. Thanks, Joe.

    I especially liked your second comment -- I took no offense. Your comment really underscores how Taobao has become an integral part of our daily lives. As I mentioned in my article, it was only a year or two ago that Hong Kong people would hide the fact that they shopped on Taobao. Now everyone is doing it and discovering what a treasure trove it really is!

    Jason

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  6. 在內地,taobao被稱為“萬能的淘寶”,大家總能找到自己想要的東西。冷僻的東西在上面不怕沒銷路——得益于中國市場龐大,總能有需求出現。

    ZX

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  7. Hi Jason,

    Frankly speaking, I've never shopped at "Taobao" eventhough many friends of mine are raving fans of it. I just thought that it's unreliable without seeing and touching the real things. Now, I may give a second thought as it seems satisfaction guarantee with quality assurance. So, why not give at try !

    You may aware that Premier Wen Jiabao(溫家寶) mentioned at the National People's Congress this year that the government is looking to wean the economy off its reliance on external demand and try to boost up the internal demand by one of the ways i.e. 積極發展網絡購物. So, I foresee more and more 疑似Taobao will take turns in the market ! Isn't it a good news to fans of e-shopping ?!! I just doubt ?!


    Jean

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  8. Jean,

    Do give it a try and let me know how you find it and if you disagree with anything I wrote in my article!

    Cheers,

    Jason

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  9. Jason,

    Surely will let you know if I am disappointed with the Taobao ! Hopefully not la !

    Cheers,
    Jean

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  10. Hey Jason, do you know what happened to taodot? When I went into Circle K - the only coupon I bought was one for www.dimbuy.com

    Now I have HKD1000 in this "dimbuy.com" account, and I don't see how it connects to my Taobao Alipay account...

    Much confused gwai po.

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  11. You can send me an email at info@jasonyng.com. :-)

    Jason

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  12. Hi Jason, your entry is very useful! I'm from the Philippines and I own an online shop too. Sometimes I go to HK to visit my fiance and I would go around to shop for my clients (personal shopping thing). Then my friend told me about Taobao. Now I am itching to shop there since it would be very useful for my online shop and personal shopping errands.

    I wish I could figure out how to purchase at Taobao soon, especially that I go to HK once in a while.

    -Joy

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  13. But only for China Taobao service, if you need to buy goods on Taobao need a Chinese bank account. Maybe you need a proxy site Taobao English. Http://www.taobao.pe/. You can find on Taobao goods in this can be found on the website.

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  14. Awesome post. Hit the nail on the head IMO.

    I would vouch for http://www.chinabuy.com.au and they don't charge a service fee if you're in Australia.

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