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Sunday, December 07, 2014

TaoBao - A Complete 4PX Guide

Many people *Myself Included* have so much trouble navigating the treacherous pages of Taobao in Mandarin. Now we all know that TaoBao is a huge treasure trove... However, as with all online merchants, there will always be hits and misses.

I thought i could put together a guide to share some of my experience with the Taobao assigned freight forwarder, mainly 4PX.

To begin, i would assume that you have already created a Taobao account and that 'google translate' is your best friend.

Lets start with the shopping...

Note: Read my Updated 4PX Guide (2016) here.

1) Search for an item you would like to purchase e.g: "LED 灯"

- You would likely encounter many merchants/sellers with the same products. It is important to look search for sellers with decent ratings and sales. 

Use the following rule: Heart < Diamond < Crowns

Personally, i would buy from sellers with 2-3 Diamonds and above!

Search An Item On Taobao
Search For It !

2) Add the item(s) to cart and check out!

Select the check boxes of the items you would like to purchase and 'total' (结算).

Checking Out Your Items
Checking Out

3) Here comes the important part!

Confirm all your address details ! Make sure you CHECK the box "国际转运服务". 

This means to use a freight forwarder. If you don't, the freight costs will be relatively higher because the seller will need to send directly to your Singapore address.

Select 4PX Your Forwarder
Remember to select a freight forwarding service!

For the purpose of the guide, lets use 4PX. Personally, i have never tried Lequgo and PRouter. But i have had pleasant experience with 4PX, in terms of delivery speed. 

4PX Freight Forwarder
Choosing your freight forwarder

Submit the order using "提交订单"

Based on my experience, there are several modes of payment.

  1. Payment via Credit Cards  [Visa/Mastercard charges a 3% cross-border fee (Payment is in RMB)]
  2. Payment via Alipay Wallet
  3. Payment via eNETs [eNETs charges a 1$ admin fee (Payment is automatically converted to SGD)]

Option1: Seems to be the better option if your total value is small (Example: 50RMB)

Option2: I have no experience using Alipay (Seems like a chinese version of PayPal)
Option3: Seems to be the better option if your total value is substantial

4) Orders will be shipped from the individual merchants

Wait patiently for the orders to reach the 4PX warehouse. Do note that you would receive an SMS notification once the orders have arrived.

SMS From 4PX

5) Check if your goods have reached 4PX warehouse

Aside from the SMS notifications, you can also access the menu -> "我的淘宝" -> "已买到的宝贝”. (Items You Have Purchased). To monitor and track the delivery process. 

Mouse over the line: "查看物流" (Check the delivery flow). 

Delivery Status

6) Consolidate your order on the 4PX screen and submit the payment for 4PX forwarding.

Once you have confirmed that all your purchases have reached the  4PX warehouse, proceed to consolidate them!. 

Consolidate And Pay Taobao
Consolidate Your Order

Pay For Your Shipping
Pay for the Shipping

Select "合拼订单" (Consolidate orders).

Here, 4PX will combine all the orders you have selected. Essentially, you will be charged based on the Volumetric or Gross Weight, whichever is higher.

As a reference, my latest shipment weighed in around 1.5-2.0 KG and i paid approximately 103RMB (23SGD).

Here, you would be asked to decide if you want your parcels delivered to your doorstep (aka by Singpost delivery) or to Pick your own Parcel (aka by POPStation).

Selecting a POPstation (Updated on 29-OCT-15): 

Choosing a POPstation
Choose the most convenient location

Usually, i would choose the POPStation (Pick-Own-Parcel) method and collect the packages from the nearest Singpost branch. Mainly because I do not like the inconvenience of waiting all day for the postman to arrive (Some how they tend to come at really ODD hours.

Once you are satisfied with the total shipment costs. Proceed to pay for the shipping (last payment for your orders).

7) Patiently wait for your packages... Depending on your choice of option to self-collect (via POPStation) or home delivery.

Since i choose the POPStation delivery option - the typical SMS notification from Singpost to indicate that your parcel is ready for collection looks like this:

POPStation Notification SMS
SMS No.2!

Once your receive the SMS, make your way down to the POPStation. Find the touch screen computer. Make a mental note of the location of the locker, in my case, it is locker number "H7". 

This is important because once you complete the PIN entry, the locker will be unlocked and you can proceed to retrieve your parcel! 

In total, it took about 3-5 working days from first payment, for my stuff to arrive !. 

Enjoy your purchases!!

Feel free to rate the sellers once you have received the goods as this provides a transparent feedback platform for other buyers. Hope this guide will help you ! Enjoy 淘宝-ing !  :))

Read more Taobao related stuff here!.