Well here I am one year later, still buying from Taobao >_> who'da thunk it? You would think the shipping cost from my last order (Read here) would be enough to put me off, well you'd be wrong! haha. I think most people who buy from Taobao using an agent have come to expect the astronomical shipping fees. This makes the prospect of buying items from Taobao less cost effective as I have shown in my previous post. I had all but given up on Taobao, as it's probably cheaper to buy from Chinese sellers directly on Ebay.
That until I decided I wanted an underskirt similar to the ones being sold at Juliette et Justine. These beautiful chiffon layered skirts looked amazing underneath any dress or even on their own. I really wanted to buy one but couldn't justify the 25,200 Yen (nearly £150) price-tag.
|Juliette et Justine 'Petal de Rose'|
|Juliette et Justine 'Robe du Azrael'|
Failing to find any similar cheaper underskirts in various other places (Ebay, Etsy etc) I decided to look at Taobao Lolita shops and came across one in a shop called Little Dipper for a fraction of the cost of JetJ's. Many other Lolita's vouch for the quality of this skirt so I decided to give it a go.
|Little Dipper 卡斯达1|
Somehow I seem to always coincide my orders with Chinese New Year, this is not purposely done just coincidently. I would not recommend this as orders get backed up so it might take more time for your agent to get back to you and most Taobao shops close during this time.
This time I decided to use Taoboaspree, as I felt they would be more efficient and since I was ordering a pre-order item it would be easier to talk to a person rather than randomly leaving messages in cyberspace, as was my experience with Taobaoring. Taobaospree's service fee is slightly more expensive than Taobaoring at 10% but you get a more personal experience I think.
The ordering process for Taobaospree is slightly more tedious than Taoboaring's as you have to individually add items to an excel spreadsheet which you download from their website.
The document has two spreadsheets, one without insurance (the main spreadsheet) and the second one with 5% Paypal insurance. I'm not exactly sure if the insurance refers to shipping insurance or something else, I am assuming that you are covered by Paypal Buyer Protection when you pay unless you chose to 'Gift' the amount to Taobaospre. Also I am sure that full value insurance is included with EMS shipping unless you choose to mark your items down in value.
Firstly you have to fill out the fields that are highlighted green, Name, Address etc. and whether you would like your items sent via EMS. Also you can use the empty fields at the top to write any notes for delivery e.g. customs declaration or how you would like the items packaged.
The first two columns do not need to be filled in. The next three (TB Seller, Name and URL) do have to be filled in with the correct item details. It's better to copy and paste these in the untranslated format so that it doesn't get confusing.
The next columns to fill in would be Quantity, Price, Shipping (This is for domestic shipping and sometimes it is not clear so you can leave this field blank for Taobaospree to fill in if you are not sure.) and Buyer Comments. The skirt I wanted to order was a pre-order item and required a deposit of 80 Yuan. The full price of the skirt was 253 Yuan so I put that in the 'Price' field. Now when filling in the 'Buyer Comments' section it is best to have a translated version of the page open as well as a non translated version so you can copy and paste the Chinese text directly. The 'Buyer Comments' section is used to write any information on the colour, size, length or anything regarding the item.
Once I had completed the form I emailed it to Taobaospree (email address is on their webpage) 07/02/14. I got an automated message saying that they had just got back from Chinese New Year holiday and had a backlog that they were currently going through. A few days later (10/02/14) I got a message from the agent Cici asked if I would like to proceed with the order because the skirt would take 1 month to manufacture. Also she asked for my waist measurement as I had forgot to note that down. I emailed back saying I was prepared to wait and gave my waist measurement. The next day Cici emailed me asking to pay the total amount (The Balance figure on the spreadsheet) to Taobaospree's Paypal account. After paying I emailed Cici letting her know and she emailed me back the following day she will buy the items now.
Here are a few pro and cons of using Taobaospree as your agent from my experience so far.
- The Taobaospree agents speak very good English so there's no need to worry that they won't understand you. The are very helpful and polite.
- Taobaospree respond very quickly to any questions and are quick to confirm your order once you place it.
- They will mark down your package.
- There is a wide variety of shipping options available, including discounted EMS.
- The spreadsheet system is quite tedious and mistakes can easily be made
- The service fee is 10% which is quite high compared to some others.
- You can't easily keep check of the status of your items without asking your agent for a update. Taobaoring's website made this very easy to do.