Taobao shopping guide in English

If you have spent even the smallest amount of time in China, you will have heard of Taobao (here) China’s biggest online shopping service. However much to the frustration of many foreigners living here, Taobao is only available in Chinese. But don’t worry, our team here at HI-COM has translated the most useful parts of the website, so you can start grabbing those bargains just like the Chinese have been doing for many years now!

Once you have jumped over the language barrier, the website is in fact very user friendly, and if you already use a Chinese bank card or Alipay, your shopping experience on Taobao will be even easier.

So let’s begin!

Taobao – Step 1.

Once you arrive at, you will see a main search bar with a “Search” button (this also works if you search for English words or brand names), categories of goods on the left, advertisements in the middle, a QR code to scan with your phone to activate the Mobile Taobao App, and Taobao mascot under the code with three orange buttons: Login, Register and Open your own shop.

Go ahead and click “Register“.

certified translation

Taobao – Step 2.

The developers at Taobao have already created a registration page in English, so you should have no problems signing up.

Taobao – Step 3.

After registering, you can then log in. Here you have two choices; you can either scan a QR code with your mobile, or click on the orange computer icon that’s partially hidden n the top right corner.


Taobao – Step 4.

Now let’s move on to the fun part – searching for an item you wish to buy. In our case we are buying an iPhone cover. For best results, we recommend that you find the name of the item translated into Chinese first, and enter it into the search bar. This will bring up a wider range of results and choices.

The filters here are really useful. You are free to choose styles, materials, special features, sort by price (or enter an minimum / maximum price range in the windows marked with ¥), and sort by origin of shipment. You can tick the “same day arrival” window, “new product” or “used products” etc. depending on your needs.

Taobao – Step 5.

We picked out our item here using a brand name and a Chinese description.

When you compare the products, here are a few things you may want to look out for:

  • The number of people who purchased this item (the small grey number next to the price)
  • An Icon of each platform on which it is sold (e.g. Tmall, red icon on the last line)
  • Origin of the shop (above the blue logo of the messenger).

The product we have selected has been purchased 105,438 times. It is sold on Tmall (so we are going to be redirected, but fear not – Tmall is well integrated to Taobao), and it will be dispatched from Shenzhen (the origin of shop/shipment information comes in handy if you’re in a rush to get your products, as it will take less time to be delivered). Feel free to play with the filters the way you like.

Taobao – Step 6.

By clicking on the item, you will enter the shop, where you can choose an exact model or check the trustworthiness of the seller (check the line with the red numbers above the product – monthly sales and feedback, if applicable).

Model: You can choose the color, size and other criteria. Now, if you get past all the ads, you will see some additional information on this page: freight info – price and time of transportation, amount of units in stock.

You will also find some statistics such as how many times the product was sold in the last 30 days (117,227), and how many times it has been rated (144,353).

Taobao – Step 7.

After you have made your choice, go ahead and click either “Add to Shopping cart“, or “Buy now” for a direct payment.

To make a payment you will need to enter your address (enter it Chinese if possible) and contact info, select the items you want to pay for and click the red button. You will then be directed to the payment page.

In our case we do not have a Tmall voucher, and we do not need to send any messages to the sellers, but we have those options if we need them.Among the other options you might want to choose the type of delivery, ranging from a super fast one (SF express), an average one (set by default), or a slower one (China Post). You can adjust the quantity you wish to order and even request a Fapiao invoice.

Taobao – Step 8.

If you are using Alipay on your computer, this synchronised web helper will pop up automatically. Otherwise log in to your internet banking service, by clicking on the logo of your bank.

If you are using Alipay, enter your password and press “Confirm the payment”.

Taobao – Step 9.

You will then receive confirmation of your payment (as indicated below by the green tick), and the estimated delivery time will also be displayed here.

And of course beware of scams!

So there you have it, you are now free to shop on Taobao in a language you understand! Let us know in the comments about your shopping experiences using our guide. We are here to answer all your questions : )

We will be back soon with more news and updates, so stay tuned!


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Kate CHERNAVINATaobao shopping guide in English