NEWS
GUIDE FOR ONLINE SHOPPING
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China has more than 150 big and small shopping websites. Nearly all of them are in Chinese. But using them isn't all that different from the sites you are probably familiar with. You get registered first, find the goods you want, and tell the websites your delivery address and payment method. You can pay with credit card, through the post office or on delivery. You can also ask for a refund if you find the products have quality problems, although refund policies differ from one websites to another.
 
Different websites have different specialties. For example, if you are a book lover, you can go to Amazon's Chinese version or Dangdang to buy imported books. And if you want to buy home appliances and electronics, you can go to 360buy or newegg.com.cn. If you cannot read the product description in Chinese, you can first get some knowledge of the goods you want from other websites in your mother tongues and then go back to the shopping websites to check if they are available.

Of course, you can also buy many other things online, ranging from food to gaming software. Considering the language barrier, it would be better for you to ask your friends about their shopping experience when you want to buy something from a specific website.

Just remember that unlike 360buy, Amazon, Dangdang and those sorts of websites, Taobao is just a platform to match buyers and sellers. So Taobao takes no responsibility for the quality of the goods you buy.
 
When we talked to expats living in town, we found many know about Taobao. But they apparently have some important concerns about shopping there.
 
-I know Taobao, but I don't do any online shopping there.
-Well I only do it with Chinese friends or Chinese colleagues, but since I have trouble reading Chinese characters. That's not going to work so far well for me.

-I think the main concern is the credit card because they steal number.
 
Well, there is one easy answer to language problems -- translation websites, although they may not be that accurate. Of course, you can always ask for help from Chinese friends.
 
This is Taobao's homepage, and if you look at the top, there's a white bar, you click in there and you type whatever you want in English and most likely, there will be people selling it there.
 
You may find there are a huge number of people selling the goods you want. You can check their credibility record to ensure you buy from a reliable seller.
 
So we are looking for Earl Grey Tea, and a list of sellers who have Earl Grey Tea appeared. The top two sellers you'll notice have this logo, TMall.com. That means they are part of Taobao's elite group of sellers TMall.com group, and therefore they're less likely to have fakes and probably going to be more reliable.
 
When you click the purchase button, they will ask you to log in first, and that's when you can register for free.
 
So here we are at the registration page. It's pretty much like other website registration pages - there is the user name, you have to fill in, you have to choose a password, confirm your password, and of course the security code.
 
Unlike other stores run by one authorized owners, Taobao is a unique platform gathering sellers and buyers. That means you can sometimes bargain with the sellers. The little icon circled in blue indicates that the seller is available for talking online. You can try to talk to them in English. And you can see in the pink circle a line of diamonds. The more diamonds, the more reliable the seller is.
 
When you are done with all your purchases, click the orange button you see below. And then you will be transferred directly to the payment page.
 
There're lots of options for paying, debit cards, credit cards. The credit cards are the second tab, you click on it. First of all, it just gives you the options of Chinese credit cards, but down at the bottom, there's a little tab here which you can click on and that gives you the option of paying by international credit card.
 
I would recommend using international credit card, as you don't have to go to the bank to open an online account for your local debit card, and you don't have a limit on how much you can use, while most of the debit cards have a daily limit of around 500 yuan.
 
There are also other ways to pay, one is to mail the money through the post office. And some other buyers will accept cash on delivery. But none of them are as safe as using the online payment, because that way, Taobao is monitoring the whole money transaction process.
 
Once you get the goods you want, log onto Taobao again, and confirm the deal, Taobao will release the funds to the seller. Otherwise, the money will be on hold for around 10 days, during which buyers can also complain and get the money back.

Credit card security is not an issue, because it's Taobao that takes your credit card details not the seller. Taobao is part of the huge Alibaba group. So there should be no issues on that account.

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