You're probably dropshipping or have heard of dropshipping with AliExpress, and are wondering if there's a cheaper marketplace to source products from to your store.
And guess what? There is!
There's a marketplace called Taobao, where you may be able to source products much cheaper than on AliExpress.
In this article, we'll talk about the possibility of dropshipping from Taobao, everything you should know about this marketplace, and its pros and cons.
But before getting started, let us introduce you to Taobao.
What is Taobao?
Taobao (the Chinese eBay) is a well-known ecommerce site ranked as the largest online shopping mall in China.
Over one billion products are listed on Taobao, with millions of buyers purchasing goods every day.
You might not know this, but The Alibaba Group owns Taobao, AliExpress, and 1688, all of which are online marketplaces. Each has a distinct identity and marketing strategy, but their ecommerce websites function similarly.
Taobao, founded in 2003, offers consumers from large cities and less developed areas an engaging, personalized shopping experience enhanced by data analytics and technology.
In June 2022, approximately 1.1 billion Chinese people were shopping on mobile devices, and guess what?
Taobao was one of the most popular shopping apps in China at the time, with nearly 875 million monthly active users.
Now that you know what Taobao is let's see if you can use it as your dropshipping supplier.
Can you use Taobao as a dropshipping supplier?
Taobao can be used as a dropshipping supplier if you know how to find a reliable supplier.
However, a downside is that you have to speak Chinese to be able to do anything on the Taobao website.
But as a non-Chinese speaker, you can also install Chrome's Google translate extension to browse their website. (Or translate it directly via Chrome)
When you launch Google Chrome and navigate the Taobao website, click the translation extension icon at the far right end of your screen, then select English as another language.
After selecting English as another language, the page will automatically be translated like this:
But before doing some research about suppliers on Taobao, you must register an account. Let's see how you can quickly do this.
How do you create an account on Taobao?
To create an account on Taobao, click on any item on the homepage, like below:
It'll bring you to a new login page on another page.
Then click on 'free registration' to create an account:
Input your phone number on the registration form page and click 'get verification code.'
Submit the verification code you'll receive, and you're good to go with a new account.
The pros of dropshipping with Taobao
As we talked about above, dropshipping is possible with Taobao, but what are all the benefits of doing so?
Just look at the pricing from Taobao; you'll notice that the prices are much lower compared to the ones you usually see on AliExpress.
Lower product pricing means a higher profit margin for your dropshipping store when using Taobao as a dropshipping supplier.
Related article: Dropshipping Profit Margin: All the Stats You Need to Know
Most of them are of high quality because they are designed for the discerning local Chinese population.
Variety of goods
Lot of product variety in Tabao; it's simple to find what you're looking for and even discover new products that might take a while to appear on other platforms.
A fantastic rating system
Taobao's vendor rating system is based on customer feedback and can assist you in avoiding untrustworthy suppliers.
The cons of dropshipping with Taobao
Of course, there are some cons too. Let's check them out:
Higher shipping costs
While the products' prices are generally low, the shipping, on the other hand, is expensive.
And Taobao's consolidated shipping does not support dropshipping fulfillment, so you must make separate arrangements to deliver your customers' orders.
Ships only to certain countries
Right now, Taobao only ships to fifteen specific countries outside China, which are:
- New Zeeland
- Hong Kong
- South Korea
Language is one of the barriers any dropshipper can face on Taobao, and if you don't speak Chinese, it can be difficult to find products on Taobao.
Online translation is another option, but it can lead to missing some aspects of product descriptions.
Taobao's official payment method is Alipay. Its sign-up process is difficult for foreigners, and payments do not always go smoothly, even for those who manage to open an account.
As a comparison, AliExpress has many more payment methods to choose from.
What is the difference between Taobao and AliExpress?
Despite being owned by the same company, AliExpress and Taobao are different. Each has another purpose, and it's designed for a particular audience and operates differently.
Below is a comparison of the two ecommerce giants:
The AliExpress website supports multiple languages. It allows you to change your display language settings via the settings menu.
The site is offered in sixteen different languages, including English, Chinese, Russian, French, Turkish, and Italian.
Your preferred language will be used for keyword searches and filtering as well. This makes it relatively easy for dropshipping merchants to find products they want on the site, even if they cannot read or understand what is being said.
Sadly though, Taobao does not offer any other language options besides Chinese. So those who browse through this marketplace need to be able to read Chinese phrases when performing keyword searches to find desired products without issue.
To many people's relief, you can also carry out a photo search on Taobao instead of a keyword search. Additionally, most of the traders on Taobao only speak Chinese.
Negotiating the best terms with such traders can be a difficult undertaking.
If you do not speak Chinese, it would be wise to hire an agent based in China who will act as an intermediary between yourself and these potential sellers.
AliExpress and Taobao both deal with Chinese-made products. However, product quality is significantly different - even for things categorized the same way.
For Chinese products, the more expensive an item is, the better it tends to be (almost always).
In general, Taobao sellers are more closely in contact with their customers. In contrast, AliExpress sellers are not involved - unless there is an issue of return or dispute over something purchased from them.
This means that trading on Taobao has less risk of swindles or bad reviews due to lower prices and a larger customer base.
On AliExpress, you are more likely to face scamming or fraud due to a lack of communication between buyers and sellers outside of China who do not know one another personally.
So if you pick AliExpress for dropshipping, don't forget to check out our article here to learn how to pick the best suppliers!
Since you are purchasing from someone you do not know and will probably never meet, there needs to be some guarantee that what you are receiving is authentic.
On AliExpress, the Buyer Protection program offers peace of mind that the product or products you ordered have not been tampered with.
However, if an offending seller violates this requirement, they will be required to reimburse the buyer twice the total cost of purchase (including shipping) before sending anything else out.
Alipay Escrow is where your funds will not get sent unless everything meets your satisfaction after delivery. On Taobao, even though it does not have as many protections for its buyers, most sellers on the platform are still reliable.
And no worries if something goes wrong and does not turn out how it was advertised! You can always request a refund through Taobao.
AliExpress ships items worldwide, for the most part using standard shipping (for those who live in non-China countries), ePacket, China Post, FedEx, and DHL.
Items are typically delivered within twenty to thirty days but can be reduced to seven-twenty days via ePacket or Express delivery methods. Conversely, Taobao supports both Mainland China and international shipping options.
Taobao also has a specialized warehouse like Amazon's Fulfilment Centres, which requires sellers who ship internationally to use for outbound transport.
The cost of international shipping is higher than via AliExpress for most items, with some exceptions where it may even be cheaper when importing small quantities - this applies more so when exporting from rather than importing into Mainland China.
Related article: Wondering if you can still use ePacket in 2024? Check out our detailed article here!
Refunds on AliExpress are slower than most sites—it takes five-ten days to finalize. You can expect a refund from Taobao sellers in around two days.
The AliExpress platform features an improved refund policy. Designed to protect both the buyer and the seller, this system addresses such problems as refunds and returns in a ticket-based mechanism.
In contrast with Taobao's customer service - which is only accessible via phone - you can contact AliExpress' staff about any issue at any time of day or night, from Monday to Sunday.
How do you find the right dropshipping supplier on Taobao?
Dropshipping suppliers are integral to ensuring your company is successful; however, choosing the right supplier can take time and effort. Here are some tips for finding the right supplier on Taobao.
In the search bar, find the products you want to sell in your dropshipping store using keywords or the image search option and then scroll through the results and select the search results that best match your criteria.
Consider choosing a supplier based on these stats:
- Customer rating
- Loyalty and reviews
- Product quality
A tip on Taobao
To get the most out of the supplier base list, you'll have to set your location to mainland China.
Finding a seller who provides excellent products at competitive prices would be a wonderful addition to any dropshipping business.
However, Taobao has yet to perfect its ability to trade with international customers; most only speak Chinese and target customers in Mainland China.
You don't know this, but because of your IP address, you may be redirected to its global platform world.taobao.com when you type the URL (www.taobao.com) into your browser.
Let's see how you can quickly set your location to Mainland China.
On the top left corner, point your mouse cursor over '新加坡'.
And then select your region as '中国大陆' (China) from the drop-down menu. After that, you'll see that the mainland China homepage is slightly different.
When you change your browser's location settings, the Taobao website will show you international and local vendors from which you can take advantage to find the perfect supplier for your products.
Another thing to consider is the seller's overall reputation.
Taobao has one of the most extensive merchant feedback and review systems available, and following each successful transaction, Taobao allows buyers to rate and review the seller.
Those customer feedbacks are then converted into points like this:
Yellow crowns are the highest rating a seller can achieve on Taobao, and the lowest rank is the heart. You'll see these symbols on the product page's 'Reputation' section like this:
If you are still looking for relevant results, you can ask a Taobao agent for assistance.
3 Best Taobao dropshipping agents
There are many different types of Taobao agents out there - they can be anyone, including individuals, businesses, or groups.
They are great alternatives for those who can't read or speak Chinese.
These agents help buyers find products on the site and even purchase them sometimes to simplify the process.
Here are three top-rated Taobao agents to turn to when looking for new items.
In 2009, LeelineSourcing was founded in Hong Kong. It is regarded as one of China's top-performing and most reliable Taobao agents.
They manage exports and provide consultation for imports. LeelineSourcing provides product sourcing services to small, medium, and large-scale businesses.
This Taobao agent has been working for more than ten years; they know what they are doing. Fortunately, they do not charge any upfront or hidden costs.
It conducts a careful product check before importing your products, ensuring that your customers get high-quality goods.
2. Bao Hero
Baohero is an English Taobao agent located in China. They work hard to make buying things on Taobao safer and easier by providing our clients with ways of both purchasing and shipping.
Their service is rooted in core values: competence, convenience, and reliability. It does not matter where you are; they are determined to provide only the finest service for you!
ShipAnt is another Taobao dropshipping agent you can consider.
ShipAnt's goal is to provide dependable dropshipping service to assist dropshippers in locating quality dropshipping suppliers on Taobao at a lower cost and with faster delivery than AliExpress.
Their order fulfillment service includes sourcing, purchasing, repacking, label branding, barcode, inventory warehousing, pick pack, shipping, tracking, and aftersales.
Is Taobao safe?
Taobao is safe in general for buyers and sellers.
Seeing a seller's reliability on Taobao is extremely easy - it all depends on the qualifications obtained from a store. Before making a purchase, you will identify what credentials are attached to a store's profile.
That said, there is no 100% safe online shopping anywhere. Before purchasing Taobao, please investigate the retailer's reputation, customer reviews (if available), and other aspects that could affect your experience before handing over any money.
FAQs about dropshipping with Taobao
This article has helped you find great answers and agents for your dropshipping questions regarding Taobao.
Although finding a reliable supplier is an essential part of starting a dropshipping on Taobao, there are more steps you need to know!
If you’re interested in learning more about dropshipping with Taobao, here are some frequently asked questions to get started:
Is Taobao cheaper than AliExpress?
Taobao is generally less expensive than AliExpress because it is used to sell to the Chinese domestic market.
How do you go about doing dropshipping on Taobao?
Find your product and contact a Taobao dropshipping agent or supplier. Next, market your product to get an order and share the customer details with your Taobao dropshipping agent or supplier. At last, pay them, and they'll fulfill your order!
How do I dropship from Taobao to Shopify?
Install the Dropast Shopify app, then connect your Shopify store to import products from Taobao and Tmall. Get an order, and Dropast will automatically sync it.
Before we go to the final verdict, we've created a quick summary of this article for you, so you can easily remember it:
- Taobao is a big marketplace in China for sourcing products at low cost.
- Dropshipping with Taobao is possible even if you're a non-Chinese speaker.
- You can install the Chrome Google Translate extension to browse Taobao easily.
- Taobao is safer than AliExpress due to dealing with local Chinese consumers.
- Bao Hero can help you quickly dropship from Taobao.
- Trading on Taobao has less risk of fraud or bad reviews due to lower prices and a more extensive customer base.
Taobao, one of Asia's largest online marketplaces, sees hundreds of millions of active users daily.
You should ensure that when browsing on Taobao, you look at things such as customer reviews and browsing filters to ensure high-quality products.
This way, you can securely and safely dropship from Taobao.
If you're interested in learning more about dropshipping from China, check out our complete guide here!
Want to learn more about dropshipping?
Ready to move your dropshipping store to the next level? Check out the articles below:
- The 10 Best Dropshipping Suppliers in India (Free & Paid)
- 6 Reasons to Use a Dropshipping Agent for Your Online Store
- 14 Questions to Ask Dropshipping Suppliers (Don’t Skip This)
Plus, don’t forget to check out our in-depth guide on how to start dropshipping here!