Taobao has become the world’s most popular shopping platform. In 2019, 80% of online shopping in China happened on Taobao. In 2021, it was the eighth-most visited site in the world. Taobao is like Amazon, only bigger. In 2019, Taobao’s GMV came in at $515 billion, which was more than Amazon’s $344 billion.
Dropshippers stand to gain many benefits when they shop on Taobao. These include the wide variety of products and the relatively cheaper prices. Even though drop shippers benefit so much, many still shy away from using Taobao for reasons including the language barrier (95% of Taobao is in Chinese).
Hey, no worries. In this guide, we’ll show you how to shop on Taobao and ship directly to the USA. We’ll also explain how to overcome the language barrier, how to make payments, and a great Taobao shipping service to get rid of all the headaches.
Don’t thank us; what are friends for? Let’s get started.
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How to Ship Directly From Taobao to the USA
There are two ways to ship Taobao products to the USA. You either use Taobao’s official logistics or third-party freight forwarders.
Taobao Official Logistics
Taobao partnered with Cainiao, another Alibaba subsidiary, to deliver goods to specific countries. These countries are Hong Kong, Macao, Taiwan, Malaysia, Singapore, the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and Japan.
Shipping with Taobao official logistics is divided into two main steps. The first is to shop on Taobao and have the items delivered to a forwarder warehouse. The next step is to have the warehouse deliver the goods to your address in the US. The forwarder warehouse packs and ships to you.
Here’s the complete step-by-step process of using Taobao official logistics to direct-ship to the USA.
STEP 1: Create a Taobao Account
Visit the Taobao website and open an account. Or directly visit the Taobao sign-up page. Don’t worry about the language. Signing up is easy since there is now an English version. You can use Google Translate to navigate the site.
STEP 2: Add a personal U.S. shipping address.
After you sign up and log in, you’re taken to the admin page. From there, change the shipping address to a personal US address. To do that, click ”shipping address” on the left sidebar. Either modify or add a new address. Then click “save.”
STEP 3: Find Items and Add to Cart
Now you can go shopping. Browse Taobao’s huge marketplace to find products. When you find something you want to buy, you either “Buy Now” or “Add to Cart.” It is better to click “Add to Cart” since “Buy Now” takes you directly to checkout. “Add to Cart” lets you review your selections and pay once for multiple items.
STEP 4: Make the First Payment (Order Value + Domestic Shipping Fee)
When you’ve reviewed the items and confirmed them, proceed to checkout. This is the first payment you make. You’ll pay for the item value and the cost of shipping it to the logistics warehouse. Simply, you pay for order value and domestic shipping fee.
STEP 5: Wait for Forwarder Warehouse to Receive Your Orders
Once you’ve completed the payment, the seller is shown an address to the warehouse with your unique ID. They then send orders to the forwarder warehouse. When you try to track your items in this stage, it shows that the final address is the warehouse.
STEP 6: Make the Second Payment (International Shipping Fee)
Once your items have arrived at the warehouse, you will see them on the “Cross-Border Logistics ”, ready for you to consolidate the parcel. Usually, you’ll be sent SMS messages for every item received by the warehouse. Log in again to Taobao. Choose all the parcels that you want to consolidate and click “Confirm consolidate.” You’ll be prompted to pay for international shipping.
You are allowed 20 days of free storage time in the forwarding warehouse. After 20 days, you are charged a storage fee of 1 RMB per extra day per package.
Frequently Asked Questions About Taobao Official Logistics:
1. After receiving the goods, how long does it take to send them to the United States?
When your packages arrive at the logistics warehouse, they’re signed in from the centralized transportation. This is usually done within 8 hours of receiving the goods. After that, you receive the notification that your package has arrived. Once you pay the freight, the goods are delivered from the warehouse within 24 hours. It takes anywhere from 10 to 15 working days to get the items to the United States.
2. How is the International Shipping Fee Calculated?
For now, Taobao supports only one shipping method to the U.S., which is consolidated shipping by air. The shipping fee is calculated based on the weight of the item. The first 0.5kg costs 85RMB. And for the next 0.5kg, you’re charged 47 RMB. For instance, if you want to ship a package of 2kg, you are charged 85 + 47 + 47 + 47 which is 226RMB.
You can’t ship a package that weighs more than 22kg. Above 22kg, the package is split into smaller packages and shipped separately. Also, your item cannot exceed the maximum length of 80cm. This length is calculated after packaging, so it’s not always the actual length of the item.
- Sign up on Taobao
- Change shipping address to a personal US address
- Add items to Cart
- Make first payment – order value and domestic shipping fee
- Consolidate items
- Make second parent – international shipping fee
Third-party Freight Forwarders
Apart from the consolidated method, there are transit companies that provide centralized shipping from China to the United States. These companies ship items from China and Hong Kong around the globe.
STEP 1: Find a safe, reliable, and affordable freight forwarding company
Many freight forwarding companies are out there, but not all of them are worth your trust. Find a freight forwarder that is affordable and reliable to deliver your items safely and early. Here are brief reviews of mainstream and worthwhile freight forwarders.
Bestfulfill purchases Taobao products on your behalf. They take care of every step of dropshipping from product sourcing, product branding, packaging, and shipping.
Many Bestfulfill services are not offered by major freight forwarders. For example, Bestfulfill takes care of quality inspection. Most forwarders don’t check your item for quality. They only check if it’s not contraband.
Bestfulfill does a free product photo or video shoot that you can use for your online store. This has two advantages. First, the photos are custom so you won’t have SEO problems. Second, the photos are shot by professional product photographers.
With over 70 employees and a 3000 meter square warehouse, Bestfulfill delivers superb freight forwarder services, and for affordable prices.
- Quality inspection
- Product sourcing
- Product branding
- Free product photo/video
- Warehouse stores only in bulk
Superbuy has been around since 2012 and formerly named Dotdotbuy. Superbuy is reliable when it comes to shipping safely to the US.
To use the service, you have to register a Superbuy account, verify and purchase the items you want, allow the warehouse to receive and sign them in, consolidate and finally pay the international shipping fee. The service can even order products on your behalf from Taobao if you include the links to the products.
Superbuy is worth your time for several reasons. First, the website uses language based on your location. That is, when you visit Superbuy from the US, it automatically shows the English version. Second, they’ve got great customer support. Third, you can store your items in the Superbuy warehouse for up to 90 days for free, after which you’ll be charged 0.1RMB per package per extra day.
The only downside to Superbuy is that shipping costs are high compared to other services.
- No language barrier
- Great customer support
- Many payment methods accepted
- 90 days free storage time
- Higher shipping fee
Famiboat is another popular freight forwarding agent. Just like Superbuy, you have to purchase your items first, allow them to be sent to the famiboat warehouse, consolidate the items and then pay for the international shipping.
Famiboat is amazing because of the great customer service, but it falls short in a few ways. Free warehouse storage is 60 days, which is 30 days less than Superbuy’s. Famiboat accepts only three payment methods: PayPal, Alipay, and WeChat. The website is in Chinese by default, so you’ve got to use Google Translate.
- Great customer support
- Lower shipping fees
- Few payment methods
Panli’s freight forwarder services include buying for you directly from Taobao, relatively cheap shipping fees, little language barrier, and great customer service.
When you land on the Panli homepage from the US, the content is automatically translated to English, even though some things remain in Chinese. You have to create a member account, from where you order your items. By submitting item information or a link to the product, Panli calculates the total cost and buys directly from Taobao.
Their international shipping cost is 10% of commodity price and domestic shipping price. This is way less than Superbuy which can get to as high as 18%.
- Great customer service
- Relatively low shipping cost
- The website is in Chinese
STEP 2: Get an Exclusive Domestic Warehouse Address
When you’ve selected a freight forwarder, create an account. Once you’re logged in, you’ll be given a member number and assigned a domestic warehouse address just for you.
STEP 3: Change your Taobao receiving address to the warehouse address
Log in to your Taobao account. On the left sidebar of your admin page, click on “shipping address.” Fill in the transfer address obtained in step 2. Make sure the address is accurate. Remember to include your member number. Otherwise, the forwarding company cannot identify whose package it is.
STEP 4: Place an order on Taobao and wait for the merchant to deliver the goods.
When you’ve placed an order, log in to your account in the freight forwarder. Click on “My package.” Fill in details about your package including the name, specification, quantity, payment amount, etc. Add your United States address. The more accurate your info, the better.
STEP 5: After all packages arrive at the warehouse, the transfer company will pack and ship them to your address.
When your items arrive at the warehouse, the forwarding company will check whether your items are not contrabands. The company will then pack and ship the items to you.
Since most freight forwarders are not going to perform any quality or quantity controls by default, we recommend that you add the customer service WeChat of the freight forwarder company. Ask them to take photos of the items and send them to you, so that you can confirm before shipping.
- Find a worthy freight forwarder
- Create an account
- Link a Taobao product to purchase through the forwarder or place an order on Taobao
- Set address to be the freight forwarder warehouse
- Consolidate items
- Pay international shipping fees
Some items are sensitive and cannot be shipped to the USA. They include food, wine, and perfumes. Check this list of sensitive items that cannot be shipped from China to the USA. If you are not sure about the goods you want to order, ask customer service.
Taobao offers dropshippers an amazing opportunity to find varied and unique items to ship to the USA. You stand to find consumer products for relatively cheap retail prices. At this point, you’re ready to shop on Taobao and ship directly to the USA.
Dropshipping, as you know, is not very simple. You have to source products that your customers want and ship to them. You also have to overcome language barrier especially when shopping on Taobao. To help relieve most of the work burden, contact a dropshipping agent like Bestfulfill.