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5 Steps To Buy From Taobao Using An Agent [Newbies Guide]

Updated on April 13, 2020
howtousetaobaoagent

Since you are reading this post, I think it’s safe to hazard a guess that you are looking to use a taobao agent.

Whether you are a complete novice or a pro, there is plenty of useful information here that will get you off to a proper start.

I will show you the whole ordering process you go through when you order on a taobao agent website.

As you go through this process there are a range of criteria to consider – there’s probably more to think about than you may at first believe.

In fact when I sat down to write this I didn’t expect to have to divide the post into several parts to make it more easily digestible!

However, I didn’t want to miss anything out so that you can choose a taobao agent wisely.

1. Place your order

you simply go on whatever taobao/Tmll store or other chinese online store you want to purchase from (provided that a taobao agent can actually purchase from there) and look for things you want to buy!

Once you have the link, paste it into the input box/space provided on the agent’s website and it will take you to the item’s page, this time the page is already translated into English.

Place your order, i.e. click ‘Add to cart’ button and the item will be placed in your shopping cart.

What You Need to Consider In This Phase?

Is Their Website Support multiple Languages?

Beware of websites with poorly edited, hard-to-read English texts. Some nasty communication issues are bound to arise with agents whose English skills are spotty.

If you’d prefer to trade in Russian, there are plenty of taobao agents in your language.

Spanish, French, Italian, German and Polish customers can also find agents with websites in their language, although you’ll have to search a bit harder to find these guys.

Is their website easy to use and navigate?

Check out the website navigation. I find the best method is to be (pretend or real) a completely uninitiated Chinese online shopper.

Your first look should be for a section describing the ordering procedure.

If you struggle to follow the instructions for using the website, that website is most likely not for you.

Can This Agent Buy This Item For Me?

If any of your desired items falls into the below categories, you’ll need to read the Terms and Condition carefully on the agent’s website or make an enquiry to the agent prior to making an order.

  • Restricted items
  • Branded goods
  • Bulky and heavy items
  • Virtual goods

2. First payment

when you have all the items you want in your cart, you’ll add the amount of money you need into your account, and then pay for your items.

This is the first payment, which includes the cost of your items and the shipping to the agent warehouse in China.

What You Need to Consider In This Phase?

Real-time exchange rate or fixed?

Some agents are using a fixed exchange rate, while some others are using the real-time exchange rate.

Since the CNY exchange rate is fluctuating greatly nowadays, it is recommended that you choose an agent that is using the best rate.

Paypal or credit card?

Payment options range broadly from PayPal to bank transfer, Western Union to WebMoney.

Most users will find PayPal the most convenient, familiar and secure payment method and will therewith be prepared to swallow the 3% service fee.

For you, determining the optimal payment method may be a matter of trial and error. So it could be wise to choose an agent who offers as many options as possible.

Personally I would recommend you to use PayPal if it is your first time of using the proxy’s service. This is because PayPal has a Buyer Protection policy that allows you to file a dispute and request for a refund within 180 days of purchase.

Buyer protections offered by other payment systems are less than satisfactory.

Nevertheless, PayPal charges a very high transaction fee. Therefore, when you later find that the agent can be trusted, you may switch to using other payment methods, such as Western Union or bank transfer.

This can save you lots of money.

3. Warehouse and Storage

Once your first payment is done, the taobao agent will buy the items from the seller. Usually the items arrive at their warehouse in 2-5 days.

This is where communication is important; you can request to have your items de-boxed if you think this will make parcel lighter (and thus make the international shipping fee go down).

What You Need to Consider In This Phase?

Does the agent provide QC pictures?

QC pics is important for some items like shoes,watches etc.

the purpose of QC pic is identifying any serious flaws in the item,thus ensuring that you are getting the right item you expect.

Some agents are willing to take the time to individually inspect, and photograph items for you for free.some are not,they charge a fee for this service.

so do make sure the agent can do this for free if you need QC pics.

Does the agent offer free storage time?

If you want to consolidate items that being bought from different dates,then this is an important factor you need to take into account.

Not all agents offer free storage,some only offer 7 days free storage time.

I do suggest you choose agents that can offer at least 30 days free storage time so that you have enough time to consolidate multiple parcels.

4. Second Payment and International Shipping

When they have arrived, The agent will check the items and email you requesting the second payment (international shipping fee).

you’ll add money to your account again and pay for your items. This is the second and last payment.

Once the second payment is done, The agent will send out your parcel and provide you the tracking number.

What You Need to Consider In This Phase?

Is the shipping fee reasonable?

International shipping fee is the main cost to consider. Therefore, you should choose a agent that charges a reasonable shipping fee.

Each agent provides its shipping rate calculator in which you can estimate the shipping cost to your country, and make comparisons to see which is more affordable.

In addition, some agents provide a reweigh feature. If you believe that your parcel does not weigh as much as it is charged, you can request for a reweigh.

This is a great way to avoid fraudulent shipping charges.

Smart agents provide online shipping calculators to figure your estimated costs based on purchase weight, shipping method and destination country.

which shipping method should I choose?

There are three factors to be considered while choosing a shipping method:

Time:

With a plethora of methods to choose from, including the old standbys DHL and UPS, as well as EMS (Chinese express service, often at discount rates), various postal and SAL (sea-and-land) routes,

the customer’s big deciding factor may be delivery time – anywhere from around 5 days to several weeks, depending on which method you choose.

Price:

If you wish to receive your goods as soon as possible and be able to track the parcel all the way, then you’ll have to choose the more expensive option, such as UPS or DHL.

Otherwise, you may choose the more affordable EMS.

And of course, if you don’t need it urgently and want to save more money, you can choose other land-and-sea shipping methods, such as SAL.

Customs Clearance Difficulties:

There is yet another problem to consider, i.e. customs clearance difficulties.

For instance, in Canada and certain European countries, you will more likely to be taxed if you are using DHL.

5. Receive your items

In 5-20 days, your items will be shipped to your home.

Anyhow, the international shipping time depends on what methods of shipment you use and where you have your parcels sent.

What You Need to Consider In This Phase?

Does the agent provide a tracking number?

Once your order is shipped out, the agent will provide you with the tracking number and website URL.

However, some sellers might either not provide this information at all, or only provide it when you request for it.

You should verify this with the agent.

How to clear customs if your parcel is being held?

Only a small number of parcels might be held for clearance. However, if your parcel is held you will have to pay for the customs duties.

Some agentss can arrange a customs broker to pay the necessary duties on your behalf, and you’ll just have to pay them on delivery.

In some instances, you might need to pay it at a local post office.

After Sales

If you are not satisfied with the goods you received, you can return the goods to the seller via the agent.

However, not all agents are willing to do so. Some may require a service charge, while some may charge you a very high shipping fee.

Therefore, it is advised that you read their return policy carefully.

Customer service

Customer service is a big deal in today’s complex world of commercialism.

When dealing with a foreign culture and language, it’s an even bigger deal for the international shopper.

The entire buying process is as described above. As you can see, in the entire process, there are many instances where you need to communicate with the agent.

This is why having a good customer service is of paramount importance.

3 factors for determining taobao agent customer service quality

Customer Service hours of operation

Each agent has its own customer service operating hours.

Some provide a 24/7 service, while some are only available for 6-8 hours, in Beijing time.

This can be very inconvenient as it may take up to one whole day to receive an email reply.

A local clock ticking away on the homepage is a welcome sight, as are details of operating (or “online”) hours.

Customer Service tools

It is necessary to provide a multi-channel customer service, so that all enquiries can be communicated in a real-time manner.

Given a 12-hour time difference between Beijing and, say, Boston, I as a customer want as many methods as possible to communicate with my service provider.

I’d like to be able to email at 5pm before leaving work, but I’d also like the option of phoning an agent at a decent hour of the evening if there’s an issue that needs discussion.

Skype, whatsapp,email, online chat, maybe even that old-fashioned phone are the media to look for.

Responsiveness and attitude

These are two very important attributes to have.

Along the shopping process, it is inevitable that we might encounter all sorts of problems.

If the agent that we have chosen always respond slowly to our requests or show a negative attitude, our problems could never be solved. It will also greatly affect our mood.

Look for an agent that has a sufficiently large staff and a good network server on hand so that you’re not glued to one dedicated representative.

A list of team members on an agent’s website signals accountability and bumps the level of trust up yet another step.

Final words

If you follow the tips on this post, you should be able to choose a reliable high quality taobao agent.

But, if you want to skip the search process and jump straight to some great taobao agents, you might want to check out some of my other posts:

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