Shopping at Taobao: 8 Things You Need To Know

Posted by Harshad

Shopping at Taobao: 8 Things You Need To Know

Shopping at Taobao: 8 Things You Need To Know

Posted: 14 Nov 2013 07:01 AM PST

Taobao is the biggest consumer-to-consumer (C2C) e-commerce platform based in China. You can get clothes, accessories, gadgets and even computer hardware at very low (dirt cheap) prices. However, because the website is 100% in Chinese, this may be a barrier to those who want to shop but can’t make heads or tails navigating through the shopping process.


Well, we’re here to help. Here are 8 things you need to know when shopping at Taobao. We’ll cover how you can navigate this Chinese site, giving you a rough idea of the feedback system, how to use a Toabao agent (middleman service), and other factors to consider when purchasing an item.

1. Communication & Translation

Taobao’s navigation, item listing and overall user interface is in Chinese. One way to make sense of it all is to Google Translate the page. Even then, be prepared for odd and incomprehensible translated results.

Taobao Translate

The good news is that some sellers understand that there’s a market outside of China. These sellers will include English keywords on their listings so, when you search for international brands like "Nexus 7" or "iPhones", you will get some results from the search engine.

2. Get Better Search Results

Like most search engines, you can sort results based on certain criterions (filters). At Taobao, you can sort results based on: Popularity, Sales, Seller’s Reputation, Newest Additions, and Price.

Taobao Sort

There are other seller-related service criterions that you can search for: Consumer Protection, 7-day Return Policy,
Genuine Product, WangWang Live Chat, Overseas Product, Cash on Delivery, and Accepts Credit Card.

Taobao Criteria

Within an item’s listing, you can sometimes choose an option (color or other specifications) as shown below, marked 1. You can also tell the amount of stock the seller has left, marked 2.

Taobao Listing

3. choosing A Reliable taobao seller

Just like on Ebay, you would want to pick an experienced seller who is trustworthy. One way to figure this out is to find out how many transactions they’ve processed, and successfully delivered. This can be viewed at the seller’s profile. This seller, for instance, has processed 129 units of this item and sucessfully delievered 99 of them (marked 1 below).

Sellers can also be ranked by buyers. The lowest ranks are hearts, followed by diamonds, blue crowns, and finally yellow crowns. A seller has to earn 5 of each rank before ascending to the next rank. As you can see, the seller below has 2 blue crowns (marked 2) which is quite a good rating.

Taobao Listing

You can also tell when they started their shop and the amount of positive feedback they’ve received throughout that time. This can be found under the rating with the date (in this case 2006-09-18). The figure 97.69% refers to the positive feedback received.

4. Understanding The Feedback System

In most online shopping sites, customer feedback and reviews are a great source of reference before one makes a purchasing decision. Similarly, Taobao also has a place where you can check the feedback of previous buyers at the bottom of a product page.

The quality of the product is rated by previous buyers who have received the particular item you’re looking at. The system uses stars and a rating from 1 to 5; so if that product is rated with 5, you can assume it is of quality.

Taobao Feedback

However, if there are no reviews of that particular product, you can check out the seller’s overall feedback by clicking on the seller’s rating (heart, diamond or crown). Scrolling down, you’ll see the feedback given by people who have bought any of the seller’s items. This gives you a grand idea of whether the seller is trustable or not, before you purchase an item from him/her.

Taobao Seller

5. Payment

Chinese Yuan (RMB) is used in every transcation on Taobao. Alipay (think of it like PayPal) can also be used for payment. You can also pay via online banking or buying a money recharge slip for your Taobao account from a post office in China.


On top of the item and shipping fee, other fees like insurance, shipping of sensitive items, additional payment fees and commissions might add to your total cost. You also have to take into account the exchange rate.

6. Shipping

If you can communicate with the seller, it is important to ensure that your item can be shipped internationally (or be forwarded by mail) before making payment. This is because most Taobao sellers do not ship overseas due to the language barrier and the lack of experience on the subject.

China Post

Ocassionally you may find a seller that speaks English and can accept international or online payments, but all of those extra benefits come with a cost and you might end up spending more than you need to. You may need to take note of certain shipping restrictions in your country that you have to conform to, like what items are restricted or taxable upon entering your country.

7. Shipping Duration

Taobao works similarly to buying a $0.99 item from China on Ebay. After the payment is made, it’s all about the waiting game as your item might take 7-40 working days to reach you. Items usually take 3 weeks or more to enter the country. Then another week or more to clear your local customs. You will then have to wait a few days for your local postal service to deliver it to your doorstep. So, 3-5 weeks is a conservative estimate.

Shipping duration also depends on the delivery option you’ve selected. DHL can deliver within 5-10 days, EMS (also known as China Post) may take 10-28 days and China Air Mail from 14-40 days. Of course, you will need to pay more for a speedier delivery.

8. Taobao Agent

The use of a Taobao agent is highly encouraged for buyers outside of China. The agent’s role is to act as a middleman between you and the Taobao seller. The agent will help you communicate, pay and handle shipping of the item from China to your doorstep; they can sometimes also help you search for something and explain the details of your desired item.

Taobao Agent
(Image Source: Budybuy)

Because Taobao is gaining limelight outside of China, you could probably find a local Taobao agent in your area to help you purchase something from the marketplace. Looking for a local agent also means that you’ll save on shipping because the agent will have the seller send items to their location first before forwarding it to you.


Different Taobao agents will charge for their services differently. Some might use a higher exchange rate (then keep the excess sum), while others may charge a percentage of your total purchase or a flat fee for their services. These agents may take PayPal or direct bank transfer.


When it comes to shipping, some of these agents have an inside contact that can navigate through the shipping procedures, to ensure that your parcel reaches your doorstep. This may get your parcels delivered to you faster than other agents that consolidate purchases from multiple buyers before shipping them, to lower shipping costs. If you are living outside of China, it is worth paying an agent to handle these procedures allowing you to shop, hassle-free.

Note: Taobao also has their own User Shopping Guide which you can find here as well as an FAQ section (which is in Chinese) to help with you start shopping.


20 Creative Envelope Designs That Impress

Posted: 14 Nov 2013 05:01 AM PST

Everyone’s on emails and messaging apps these days, which makes receiving mail in the post something of a rare occasion. When you do receive snail mail, the first thing you will notice is the envelope design. More often than not, in doing business, we underestimate the power of the envelope design as a branding or marketing tool. Fact of the matter is, an impressive envelope will definitely leave an impression on a client or customer.

In this post, we have a collection of 20 creative envelope designs that feature beautiful color combinations that are not only eye-catching but also will stand out from the pile. Does this give you new ideas on how to get more out of your written correspondence? Tell us in the comments below.

Telemobisie by Gosia and Wojciech Zalot

Patterned Envelope Liner by Kimberly Munn

Circles Stationery Pack by Abra Design

ChickChirik / Identity by a n a b o l i c

Masterskaya Vkusa / Identity by a n a b o l i c

Tadawi Hospital Identity / Branding by Mohd Almousa

Missy Jean Photography by Elyse Taylor

Em Cartaz | Branding by Kempeli Design e Comunicação

Dod Creative / Diego Ornato Design by Diego Ornato

Branding / Identity Mockup by BlueMonkeyLab

CMPLAIN Branding by Leonardo Zakour and CMPLAIN

K+L Wedding Invitations by Loren Klein

ConductCare | Brand Identity by Kempeli Design e Comunicação

Envelope by Colin Grist

SicolaMartin Stationery by Oen Michael Hammonds

CROSSFIT Collingwood by Nebojsa Matkovic

CV & Self-Branding – 1 by Faridz Design Suite

2012 Christmas Card by Joseph Veazey

Logo e Identidade Visual: Mobilaris by Clemilton Barreto

Max&More by Delia Goh


Identify Code Error In Sublime Text With Sublime Linter

Posted: 14 Nov 2013 02:01 AM PST

Writing codes for hours only to find that it returns errors is one of the most distressing thing about a developer’s life. This is made worse when we have no idea what we did wrong. And when things go wrong, developers cope in every way they can (check out Jake’s post for 30 common ways we deal with code error).

However, if you write code with Sublime Text, here is a small tip to minimize this frequent problem and stop you from giving up code.

Lint and Linters

Lint, in programming, is the term referring to an attempt of analyzing potential errors or bugs within the codes. Linter is the tool for Lint(ing). There are literally a bunch of linters for almost any languages, like JS, PHP, Java, and even CSS.

By Linting, not only will you be able to minimize errors and bugs, we can also become a better coder as it serves as a reason for us to follow the standard rules and best pratices in writing code. Luckily, there is a Sublime Text plugin that have packed all these linters in one package, allowing us to lint various codes seamlessly.

Installing SublimeLinter

First, you need to install Package Control for the easiest way to install Sublime Text plugin. If you have installed it, hit Shift + Command + P and search for “Install Package“. This will load the package repository.

Once loaded, search for SublimeLinter, and hit Enter to install.

Adjusting When Linting Happens

The linting process, by default, runs on the background, the process runs immediately as we are writing the codes. For more convenient experience, I suggest changing this behaviour (but if you are fine with the current setting, then skip ahead).

Head over to the Preferences > Package Setting > Sublime Linter > Setting – User, which opens in a new tab.

Then, add the following line to ensure that linting only occurs upon a file save.

 { "sublimelinter": "save-only" } 

Linting CSS

Now, let’s try it out with our codes, starting from CSS. We have the following adjoining class selector without the closing curly bracket.

 .class.anotherclass { border-radius: 5px; 

After saving the file, it turns out that I got 1 caution and 1 warning.

The error message can be found at the status bar, to the left of the line number, marked with a warning sign. In my example, it notified me of the missing curly bracket, and also advised me to avoid using adjoining class selector as it has some issues in Internet Explorer 6.

Linting JavaScript

Next, let’s try this with JavaScript. This time we have the following JavaScript function taken from W3School. I have introduced errors into it by removing the semicolons, something most thinks programmers often forget to do.

 function myFunction() { var x = "" var time = new Date().getHours(); if (time <= 20) { x = "Good day" } document.getElementById("demo").innerHTML = x } 

After saving the file, (ta-da) yes, I am missing a few semicolons.

Final Thought

If you are coding with Sublime Text, I think SublimeLinter is a must-install plugin. Not only does it help cut down on the time you need to find errors in your code, it also helps you to become a better coder on the long run.


A Look Into: Google Experience Launcher For Android

Posted: 13 Nov 2013 09:01 PM PST

Android KitKat 4.4 comes with a number of new features, some of which are exclusive to the new Google Nexus 5 at the moment. One of these is the new Google Experience Launcher. It brings some interesting changes, including Google Now integration and a new app drawer that separates apps from widgets, and it’s almost indefinitely going to be something you can find only on Nexus 5.

Home Screen And App Drawer

Of course, it didn’t take long for the new launcher’s requisite .APKs to be extracted from the Nexus 5 factory image and posted online for everyone to try on their devices. If you’re interested in trying Google’s new launcher out on your device, read on.

Trying Google Experience Launcher

There are a few things to note before we start installing the new launcher.

Firstly, the Google Experience Launcher will only work on devices running Android Jelly Bean. Secondly, you will have to enable Allow installation of apps from unknown sources in your Settings to get it installed. And as always, you should also make a backup on your device, just to be safe.


To install the new Google Experience Launcher on your phone, you’re going to need three .APK files:

  • PreBuiltGmsCore.apk – which is update 4.0 for Google Play Services
  • GoogleHome.apk – the actual Google Experience Launcher itself (both available in a .zip here)
  • The apk update for Google Search

[Note that the .zip file contains another .APK, velvet.apk. You can ignore this .APK, as it's been superseded by the Google Search update linked above.]

If you downloaded the .APKs onto your desktop, you first need to transfer them to your phone. You can use something like PushBullet, or use the old-fashioned way by connecting your device to your PC via USB for file transfer. Once the files are on your phone, navigate to the files using your file manager.

APK Files

Install the files one by one. Installation order doesn’t matter, just make sure you install all three. Once you’ve installed all three files, press your phone’s Home Button and you’ll be given a choice of launchers. Choose Google Launcher and enjoy.

Welcome And Intro

Take note that Google Experience Launcher will not give you transparent navigation bars by itself; if you want those, you’ll need to be on Android 4.4.

Also, there were reports of Google Search crashing and force closing when updated using velvet.apk. Not to worry, the new Google Search update linked in this post appears to have this fixed.

Adding Home Screen Panels

Aside from the new look, new animations and so on, the most notable change in the new Google Experience Launcher is how it handles home screen panels and widgets. You can have as many home screen panels as you like but adding panels in the Google Experience Launcher is a little different from most custom launchers.

Instead of adding panels via a settings menu, you add new panels by first going to the app drawer. Hold down on an app icon of your choice. Once you’re at the screen where you place the app, simply drag it to the far right of the list of screens. The launcher will then create a new panel with the icon on it.

Removing panels is as simple as removing all the widgets and icons from a panel. Note that you can only add panels to the right, since the leftmost panel is always Google Now.

Adding A New Panel

Adding Widgets

Adding widgets is also a bit different, since there isn’t a Widgets section in the app drawer for this launcher.

Instead, hold down on an empty area of a home screen panel again. This time, instead of going into Settings, go into Widgets, and choose your widgets as you normally would. Like app icons, you can drag widgets to create new home screen panels if you wish.

Adding Widgets

The new Google Experience Launcher may not have the bells and whistles of custom launchers like Nova, but its sleek and smooth interface should appeal to those looking for a simple, usable launcher. Give it a go and tell us in the comments what you think of it.



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