“HOHOHO!” you chime at the TaoBao home page as it displays an assortment of discounted wares at slashed prices. Deftly, you click on the flashy orange button that reads Add to Cart. It’s a done deal. You’ve seized it. Lights, faucet heads, robot vaccuum cleaner (obviously), maybe something cute for the empty corner in your house.
“Why is it broken?”
“Apparently, there’s a difference in voltage? And now it’s a fire hazard??” Honestly, who would have thought.
Not all that glitters is gold. If you’re thinking of snagging an online home product deal from the upcoming 11.11 till Boxing Day slew of sales, think ahead and stay calm. Over the last few years, we encounter more internet savvy, cost saving clients who want a TaoBao home. With this comes stories of cheap thrills and of course, heartache.
If you’re a brazen thrifter, we’re sharing our best tips. Read on to bolster your clicking finger against regret purchases and strengthen it for a good deal!
Table of Contents
Prepare to Buy
Approach online shopping like a good scientist. Leave your biases at the door, collect as much evidence and do a rigorous assessment of the pros and cons.
Don’t wait till the day of the sale to make a purchase. Instead, do some leg work pre-sale and shortlist some of your items you’d be interested to purchase.
Read Up on TaoBao Home Furnishing and Accessories Reviews
Next, read the negative and positive product reviews.
If the negative reviews seem consistent and outweigh the positive ones, it’s time to get a move on. And if there’s sufficient positive supporting evidence, do a simple cost-benefit analysis.
Now comes a series of warnings before you pay for your cart.
What to be Aware of when Buying TaoBao Home Appliances
Warning 1: No Warranty
One cost-benefit analysis you should consider if price vs. warranty. Remember, all TaoBao items come without warranty. For a low price item that will save you a pretty penny, are you willing to forgo warranty?
Manufacturers offer warranties as a guarantee of quality. Without this option, you effectively accept all risks which come with the TaoBao product. Your only chance to recompense a faulty product is immediately upon receipt. A small refund for poor handling or damaged goods may be possible. Even so, the application (read: pleading) process is a bleak blackhole of time and stress; things you didn’t pay for.
Nevertheless, there will be the diehards who chant, “I see the same product being touted in retail shops in Singapore for 3X the price!” or ” Isn’t everything imported from China anyway?”
Here’s a simple response. Although the same product sold in Singapore might indeed be made in China, the items were shipped in for export purposes.
Keep in mind, the TaoBao platform was originally created for a local Chinese market and consumer environment.
Export-only products must adhere to higher quality standards, unlike locally consumed ones. Already, the process of approval domestically is competitive and extremely rigorous. Moreover, exports have to meet local, government controlled safety standards to protect consumers. Hence, retailers bringing in what appears to be the same Chinese good, have done tons of paperwork to clinch the SAFETY Mark.
Warning 2: TaoBao Homes Not Covered by Insurance
Bypassing import processes like these run a great risk to end users. This why home and fire insurance policies cannot cover damages incurred from disapproved products.
In short, stay away from major electronic and gas appliances. You don’t need a 100% TaoBao home.
If you are tempted to purchase an electronic home good, check the voltage to avoid a fire hazard. Even faucets might not stand the test of time because of differences in local conditions and of course poor make.
Consider purchasing from local retailers instead. Many local retailers are now on Lazada (a subsidiary of Alibaba), and participate in mega flash sales. You’ll still get a quality approved product with warranty at a great price!
Warning 3: Not Quite the Right Fit or Colour
Sizes and colours stated on the site might differ slightly or significantly (depending on your luck) from the actual product.
Quite commonly, homeowners tend to buy shelving units which turn out to be a poor fit for their space. The issue arises especially if homes are still undergoing renovation works and homeowners have no actual reference to guide the purchase decision.
Nevertheless, this is a small whoopsie and can be easily resolved with a DIY hack. If that fails or if patience is not your strongest trait, you always have the option of selling it off. Then again, it boils down to the issue of hassle and some monetary loss. Once again, counterintuitive to the whole saving money scheme in the first place.
Choose Your TaoBao Home Furnishing Ending
Despite earnest warnings, there will be the brave ones among us. From here on out, choose your player: (a) Risk Taker or (b) Better Safe than Suay.
If You’re a Risk Taker.
Maybe you’ve decided the risks are totally worth it relative to the low cost.
What’s left for you to consider is figuring out shipping costs and delivery methods. Determining the weight and volume of your purchase is critical to: a) saving your money on shipping fees and b) determining if your item arrives in a single, workable piece.
If you’re thinking of getting large and bulky furniture items, be absolutely certain of the volumetric or actual weight. A little over or under could make a world of difference in shipping fees.
Resist Fragile Items for Your TaoBao Home
This leads us nicely to our second point. Let us scream it in all caps for the people at the back, “DO NOT SHIP FRAGILE ITEMS FROM CHINA.”
Fragile items include mirrors, porcelain wash basins, lighting fixtures and glasswares.
Unless you thrive on the anxiety of wondering if your fragile items are transported safely over at least 5 189.24km (the shortest distance between Singapore and China, according to Google) of land, sea and air from a factory in China, avoid the purchase.
Whether you’re going with a forwarder or have special arrangements with the seller for special handling, there’s always a risk involved. You could hedge potential losses with shipping insurance, but remember, that will hike up the cost.
If You Play Safe Safe, Won’t Suay Ok?
Granted the above warnings are pertinent to items bought off TaoBao and associated forwarders. That doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a good deal.
Many of our homeowners buy fake plants and ornamental pieces off the site. Cooking utensils and shower accessories make for good buys. You could try purchasing small electronic items (at your own risk) like a robot vaccuum cleaners and night light, just to test out the compatibility. However, always remember to read reviews and check with others who have already made the purchase locally.
Don’t forget, there are a myraid other local retailers with an online presence who are also offering wares at discounted prices during this sale period. Consider purchasing from them for an equally good deal. You’ll save money, skip the anxiety of whether it’ll arrive in one piece, and best of all it’s quality controlled with warranty.
However, if you still insist on a TaoBao cheap thrill, consider EZBuy or Lazada. They’re in English and it’s possible to get the product cheaply with added cashback perks and free returns.
Have your own set of tips to share? Or 11.11 purchase regrets? Comment below! We want to know.