Our Desk | How to not fail with a Taobao order


Julie Zhu

For internet users who, in addition to living in Macau, do not understand Chinese, Taobao might be difficult to use as a shopping tool. However, even the many who are only slightly familiar with Taobao shopping – those who know Chinese (namely the Macau local Chinese) – always seem to have had bad experiences when shopping on the platform.

This not only happens to the Macau local Chinese, but also happens to mainlanders who use Taobao.

“Taobao has bad quality,” someone says. Indeed, this is probably what most people complain about regarding Taobao. However, I have not researched whether quality is the biggest point of complaint for Macau users.

If you happen to be one of the complainers about Taobao’s quality, I’m sorry. But, of course, if you want to criticize Taobao in the same way you criticize human development, then I will say that there are plenty of things you should, and can, complain about when it comes to Taobao.

If you are a customer who wants to do little to get a lot, then I do not suggest you use Taobao anymore. If you are not, I will just propose you to become smarter at placing orders on Taobao.

First of all, for Macau users, try your best to access Taobao through the mainland Chinese website. In mainland China, people joke about big data. They often say: “I have once again been ‘big-data-ed’ because Taobao is suggesting to me to buy this and that again.” If you use Taobao’s world website, the recommendations might not be as many as you would get if you were using the mainland website, even if the listed products are often of better quality.

If you have already seen branded items in Macau, then you should always search for that particular brand on Taobao. This way, you have the chance to buy the same product, but cheaper. Pay attention to which official website you are looking at, because franchises have their own stores on Taobao as well.

Check the pictures. Some pictures make the products look fancy, but that is a result of photoshop. Checking pictures that look as though you might have taken them yourself is always better than referring to the fancier ones. Never, ever, ever believe in pictures you suspect are photoshopped. Pictures should always be the actual photos without any major edits.

Pictures are really important for most buyers, especially those living in Macau. But you should always remind yourself that Taobao is applicable to the mainland’s law, not Macau’s.

After checking the pictures, it is time to check the comments. Now, here comes the question: if you cannot read Chinese, how can you read product reviews? Well, if you really do not read Chinese at all, then, in order to be safe, you could at least check how many reviews there are for the product you have selected.   

Sometimes, one product can have more than ten thousand reviews, although this is most likely a fake chain of comments. This is a similar situation to some mainland singers who manage to attain the first spot of iTunes for weeks in a row. It is fake.

Then, you can check the reviewers’ pictures.

In Taobao, always remember: the buyers’ pictures are the most important ones, whereas sellers’ pictures are just for you to grasp a bit about the vague shape and characteristics of a product.

Categories Opinion