Ever wanted to buy the gorgeous hanfu’s that you’ve read about from ? Or get signed-copies of albums/books provided by fanclubs (available now: pre-order signed copies of M.I.C.’s new album) but have no Chinese bank account? Or even that weird jacket from M.I.C.’s Wang Hao that you’re strangely attracted to even though you hate their store? (okay, that’s probably just me.)
Here’s a guide of how you can, WuxiaEdge also a detailed tutorial for buying via taobaospree, but that’s probably not your cheapest option, especially if you know Chinese.
Step 1 : Scour the Chinese Websites for Goods
Taobao/Tmall – Your one stop for everything. This is probably your best shot for clothes and random trinkets. It’s the exclusive WWW home to many original Chinese brands, including streetwear by many celebrities. Tmall is suppose to be more authentic, but a lot of the items on there are still fakes unless it’s from the brand itself, but it should be fairly obvious if it’s the real store or not.
JD – JingDong advertises itself as the more authentic version of Taobao. You can buy books, DVD’s, albums, and other electronics here without fear of it being fake.
Amazon /Dangdang – Best for books! They often have great deals on books. Also great for other media such as DVD’s and CD’s. Make sure to buy from ones where the supplier is Amazon/Dangdang to make sure it’s not authentic.
Step 2: Buy it with your choice of websites
There’s a slew of options here. All of them take Paypal, and ship most places in the world. Most of the Chinese ones tend to be bigger and less sketchy looking. The usual process includes you paying first for the good to be delivered to them within China. Once all goods have arrived, they’ll then weigh it and give you an estimate of the shipping costs. You then chose which option you want. I haven’t tried all of them, but they should also check the good for you before shipping to make sure it’s not damaged.
Price You Pay = (Price + Domestic Shipping + International Shipping + Customs ) X (1 + Service Commission)
The bulk of your cost will probably be shipping, so I’m comparing two particular prices below. The first is EMS. This is the cheapest that ships CD’s and DVD’s, which are most of my purchases. EMS requires a signature to be delivered and often arrives fairly quickly, so make sure to check regularly the status of your delivery so it doesn’t get sent back to China while you’re on vacation. The second one is air mail, which is usually the cheapest for small packages but may take a long time. Amounts are in RMB and shipping costs are to the U.S.
Note: We haven’t tested out most of the services, so try them at your own risk.
Comparison of Various Purchasing Services ,
shipping costs = first .5kg(per additional .5kg)
|Site||English||Service Commission||EMS shipping (RMB)||Air Mail (RMB)|
- The listed price often doesn’t include shipping, and many sellers don’t have listed shipping fees. Make sure to account for more than the listed price.
- Taobao has a “find others similar” option if you want to compare prices. It also has a fun feature where you can upload the picture of a good you want and they’ll try to match it.
- Make sure to check the status of your order regularly to make sure there aren’t any issues and so your mail doesn’t get sent back.
- If you want to wait until shopping days like the infamous 11/11. Because of lags in ordering, make sure to do your research. I know Panli allows you to pre-order for those days, and they’ll click the buy for you on 11/11.
- If you have large items that are not time-sensitive, a few websites offer a cheap sea route.
I’ve personally only used Dotdotbuy and Panli and haven’t had any issues with either one so far. Let us know if you’ve tried other methods and how it goes!