Taobao buying agent, anyone?
I don’t know. I don’t even like ebay, and the thought of negotiating a Chinese ebay-like marketplace sounds truly daunting to me. I don’t read or speak Chinese, and knowing about the problem of fake perfumes on ebay makes me wary especially of something like pu-erh, which I’m told is often faked.
Probably the appeal of this sort of thing is going to depend on the volumes in which one trades. I feel that, as a single tea drinker, I’m better off paying a bit more but having some sort of relationship with the seller (à la Teavivre).
What you are saying is true. But suppose I want a cake which costs $150 from reputable seller. The same cake on Taobao is $30 plus commission plus ship which would come to 50 something. And somebody already ordered this cake and it was all good transaction
My experience as a long time buyer and Powerseller on EBay is that there are rip offs from sellers and by buyers equally. And far more American buyers tried to scam me as a seller, and same for sellers. This is because the majority of sellers are actually American, just purely population.
As for Chinese sellers on EBay, they got a bad reputation in the early years of EBay that is very difficult to overcome in the minds of buyers. So a Chinese seller now has work even harder than before to please buyers and stay in business, to overcome the bad rep. And the legit sellers know all that. This is a boon for me as a buyer, because many are shipping for free using fast shipping speeds. They email every step of the way to make sure I am happy with the transaction. Now sure there are still scammers out there of every nation, but they get easier to spot.
Because of my years selling on EBay, I have shipped to a gazillion countries, some I’d never even heard of (Moldavia, anyone?), and many I can’t spell off the top of my head. I met cool people who love American vintage items, clothing, housewares and electronics from 1950s-1970s. I’ve shipped old Harley parts and ripped up Levi’s, colorful old radios to Japan and everywhere else!
I don’t speak Chinese, but I have played Japanese video games online. I had to learn how to read and type a little kanji, using smart typing systems that give me a list of choices from typed hiragana. I joined a Chinese guild online and had a blast meeting people from China, Japan, Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia and Europe, Canada all points in between. I am not a speaker but I had to learn to type kanji or else I couldn’t get the top ranked weapons and armor, it was a co-op game. After a couple years, I was able to host gaming rooms. I have pages of kanji saved on my computer, books and I use apps. None of this is necessary to order using Taobaofocus, they are an English agent and they have a search box in English, but it doesn’t work very well.
Good points, everyone.
sherapop: I hear you. In my experience buying from English speaking websites (probably over 30), I find that Teavivre is perhaps the best for value, and one of the best in terms of reliability and customer service. But, there are a number of teas I like that they don’t sell (like Anji Baicha) that I can get through a Taobao agent for a great price (some Anji Baicha for about $2/oz).
And, yes there is A LOT that goes into buying through an agent, especially for someone like myself who does not speak Mandarin. And as Cwyn has mentioned, there is a considerable amount of risk involved, so each transaction is somewhat of a gamble. Still, I started off with small purchases, and when they went well, made larger ones, and have had much success doing it that way.
Buying through Taobao is somewhat like shopping at a garage sale, or a flee market, in that there is so much stuff to sift through. Yet, in this case, once you find some sellers that you buy from and you like (I have a few) you can continue to buy from them.
boychik: What you mention does not surprise me at all. I guess that many of the teas I get (including shipping and all of the fees) would go for about 3-4 times the price if I bought them in the US.
Cwyn: I appreciate what you posted here. I didn’t know this: “As for Chinese sellers on EBay, they got a bad reputation in the early years of EBay that is very difficult to overcome in the minds of buyers.” I have noticed some of the tea sellers based in China on EBay provide free shipping, and with good prices for the tea (still, few if any match what I can find on Taobao).
“None of this is necessary to order using Taobaofocus, they are an English agent and they have a search box in English, but it doesn’t work very well.” Agreed. I use an add-on application in Google Chrome that translates Taobao into English, which allows me to look at tea ‘directly’ through Taobao. It means I have to find the Mandarin for some words to enter into their search engine, but so far this has worked out for me. For example, I use “2014滇红” to search for 2014 Dianghong teas, and then the translation lets me narrow the search: “You are Looking for: Dianhong gold premium tea buds .. Dianhong Yunnan .. Yunnan black tea grade gold Dianhong ..gold Dianhong .. trees Dianhong”
As many have expressed interest in buying pu-erh, I thought I would provide the link to this seller (although I have not yet transacted with them yet):
They have two Gold Crowns, so they sell TONS of tea, and some of their customer ‘scores’ look decent enough as well:
Description match 4.8 Higher than 30.33%
Service attitude 4.9 Higher than 26.57%
Delivery speed 4.8 Higher than 25.59%
My guess is it would be unlikely they would sell something falsely. I will probably try buying from them this fall.
btw, I got the link to them here:
dzpuerh has a hilarious storefront on Taobao, their Tea Nerd logo is worth a look-see, it is a tea drunk with buzzed eyeballs and tea leaves in his hair.
In addition to the usual factory teas they have their own Nerd label for puerh. They have 2 kg bricks of their own tea, an absurd size, of chopped leaf (reject leaf from fine cakes) for regular tea drinkers not looking for investment grade cakes. I am in for their ripe brick, will report back how it goes. The ripe I purchased is $42 but on sale for $21.
The price of that 2KG brick is amazing.
I hope you don’t mind, but making some assumptions on what it would cost me for international shipping (feel free to correct me if you wish on the details here) I thought I would do a rough analysis of the estimate on the price per ounce (in USD, assuming about 1 USD = 6 RMB):
Tea = $42.00;
TaobaoFocus fee: 35RMB = $6.00;
Domestic shipping: 15 RMB = ~$2.50;
International Shipping: I add about 20% of the weight of the tea I buy to cover packaging; sometimes it is more (especially if tins are involved), sometimes less. 2.0 Kg X 0.20 = 0.4Kg. So, 2.0 Kg + 0.4 Kg = 2.4 Kg. To have that shipped internationally to the US via EMS = $55.42;
Total cost (assuming no fees involved in converting $USD to RMB) : $42.00 + $6.00 + $2.50 + $55.42 = $105.92
Weight of tea purchased (in ounces): 2Kg X 35 ounces/Kg = 70 ounces
Cost per ounce: $105.92 / 70 ounces = $1.51/ounce! That is amazing, even if it is for a simple, everyday tea. I don’t know how one living in the US could beat that price.
Yup, I know that shipping will likely be nasty but this is a lot of tea. The upside is that the tea is already a rectangle and box shaped, it won’t need a lot of packing materials nor an odd shaped or much larger box. Unlike a tong of beengs which are a cylinder and requires paper packing to fill out the box.
Out of curiosity, can you provide the link on Taobao to the tea you bought? Amongst other reasons, I’d love to read the comical description you mentioned previously.
I’m a taobao agent.Glad to help you. [email protected]
Hi there, I am a Singaporean currently based in Shanghai till July this year. Let me know if any of you are keen on buying things from Taobao! I can help to ship it to you at a reallly minimum fee :)
There’s an easier way to buy Taobao prdoucts. I always do this using Paypal. You can check there How to Buy from Taobao With Paypal How to Buy from Taobao With Paypal http://www.rorbuy.com/help.php?action=view&id=16
I thought most Taobao dealers did not offer international shipping? Or if they did you had to be able to read/write Chinese?
Is going through this worth saving 10% of an orders cost in regards to ordering through a company that will order through Taobao and then ship to the US within 24 hours?
edit it looks like robuy has service charges as well…
I have used Taobao Focus and Taobao Tube. Taobao Focus accepts Paypal, Taobao Tube may not at the moment, not sure. They are similar agents to the one in the link above. I don’t think it is usually possible to buy directly from Taobao although some vendors may now ship internationally. If you did buy direct from Taobao you would almost certainly have to be able to communicate in Chinese.
Thanks for your input.
I will trust the response of the others above that rorbuy.com must be similar to some of the other Taobao agents.
@AllanK mentioned TaobaoFOCUS; I have been using them for (I think) over three years and have had good luck with them (I have placed probably close to 10 orders with them). Also, what @AllanK stated above seems correct to me: language, payment, and international shipping are the three biggest reasons a non-Chinese speaking person would use an agent.
The one thing that frustrated me about Taobao Focus and Taobao Tube was their unwillingness to sell and ship really cool looking puerh tea knives found on Taobao even though they were completely legal and so small they would be legal to carry here as a knife.
Really? Interesting. I’ve only bought tea and ceramic tea-ware. My guess is they are concerned with the item getting held up in US customs.
Babelcarp is indispensable.
Some of you previously expressed interest in buying pu-erh from Taobao. Last fall (2014) I bought some pu-erh from this seller: http://dzpuer.taobao.com/?v=1 As @Cwyn mentioned, they are known to sell some fake ‘factory’ tea, so I just bought their own ‘brand’ of pu-erh.
http://item.taobao.com/item.htm?spm=a1z10.4.w4004-2810886859.10.he31vY&id=37920181123 — This 2014 raw pu-erh 357g cake is now out of stock. I paid about $10USD before paying for international shipping (depending on a number of factors, comes to roughly about $1/OZ for me). I have had this a few times, and I am reasonably impressed with it.
http://item.taobao.com/item.htm?spm=a1z10.4.w4004-2810886859.8.he31vY&id=16594653386 — This 2012 cooked pu-erh 660g cake is now out of stock. I paid about $13USD before paying for international shipping. I have been drinking this on a regular basis and find it is a great daily drinker (especially for the price).
Each cake seems to be reasonably good quality for the price. I may try other non-factory cakes from them this fall (as the two I bought are now out of stock).
Wow, I’m glad for the update on the teas you got from them. I got the 2013 cooked 500g brick, broke it up and crocked it. Should really see how it is coming along after nearly a year now.
I’m glad you appreciate the update. : )
I also am interested to see how the 2014 raw cake I bought will age.
btw, I read your post on your blog about Chawangshop’s 2015 200g raw cakes, and it has made me even more certain I will buy a few cakes from him come late summer/early fall. I have bought quite a few cooked and raw samples and cakes from him, and it seems to me all of the pu-erh I tried from him is, generally speaking, of good quality (although I judge I am still inexperienced as to what is ‘good’ pu-erh and what isn’t).
And due to the cost of shipping when buying from Taobao, I have found that it’s hard to beat the prices on Chawangshop’s reasonably priced bricks and cakes (some end up costing me no more than about $2/OZ after all is said and done). So I plan to continue getting most of my pu-erh from him, and then get a few cakes of pu-erh from Taobao sellers, perhaps once a year, just for exploration purposes.
So far I have been very happy with buying tea from Honza. I’d also much rather know where the pu-erh is coming from, and know something of the person I am buying it from. I consider him a trusted source for buying good tea, as I consider you a trusted source for honest and experienced information on tea.
I believe you originally referred me to Chawangshop, and for that I am grateful. :-)
+1 Chawang shop. A good friend recommended them as well and good service. Haven’t gotten into the teas yet. I always awake them in the pumidor at least a week.
When I saw this old thread I thought I would ask a question. Does anyone know of a taobao agent website with a good search engine for taobao in English. Taobao Tube used to have one but they have gone out of business. Taobao Focus allows you to search in English but they don’t list Taobao discounts. Their listings are at full price even if they are getting a discount.
Hello! You can check out updated search on our website. Now listing of discounts is available. Also, you can check our video tutorial about " How to use Taobao FOCUS search bar?" in blog on our website: http://taobaofocus.com/
Please note, that if there is provided discount for some item, it will be displayed on transparent rectangle on item picture with crossed full price an red colored discount price.
If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us.
Looks like an average Taobao shop for tea. What is the reason you dislike them? They are not a Taobao Agent anyway. You would presumably have to buy from them through an agent.
Fakes. They sell cheap stuff, and you have to pay for shipping anyways so you might as well spend up in my opinion.
Must be good fakes then. I was looking at a Dayi ripe tea on their site. It looked real enough by how it was wrapped.
Or they have both real and fake goods, and ship out the fakes.
Either way, I would definitely avoid for purposes of name brand pu’erh.
The only Taobao shop I know by name is MX Tea. Any other Taobao shops I have dealt with only indirectly. The only Taobao shop I’ve ever bought a Dayi from was MX Tea and it seemed real enough. It was too old to have a security seal but appeared to be wrapped right and the quality seemed good.
Another good tea I got on Taobao was called The Tea Horse Family brand tea. Not sure what their store was called but it was a good ripe tea. I’ve seen the same tea on either EBay or Aliexpress, forget which one and it was three times the price. They also make a raw tea which I have not tried.
I like Dizzy Puer (Shudaizi) house brands. They are low, mid tier priced daily drinkers and advertised as such. Yes, nothing special, but one doesn’t feel the compulsion to hoard them. Their shou is cleaner than Dayi these days.