I usually get around 3428943242 questions about one of these sites a day, and about 342943240 out of those 3428943242 are questions that I’ve answered many times before.
So hopefully this relatively short post covers the basics.
Taobao - a “Chinese eBay” where people from around the world can get cheap clothes, many of which are fakes or imitations. To use Taobao, you will require a Taobao Shipping Agent to order the item for you.
- Taobao Shipping Agent - An individual or agency, separate from Taobao, that purchases and ships the item from Taobao for you. There are many different agents with different policies, fees, and locations, and you should find one that is right for you.
- Fake - When an item is created to look exactly like another, such as a name-brand, and is advertised as being that brand. Ex. Common fake Louis Vuitton purses.
- Imitation - When an item imitates a name-brand item, even if it does not claim to be that item. Ex. Intentionally making a pair of tights that look exactly like Candy Stripper tights, but are not labeled as such.
- Not everything on Taobao is a fake or imitation, but you should keep an eye out. You get what you pay for, so buying the brand-name is almost always going to be much higher quality, and worth the higher price.
BuyChina - a large Taobao Shipping Agent that comes in the form of a shopping website, making it easier to purchase items off of Taobao without contacting an agent and filling out a form.
Yes, BuyChina is a safe, legitimate site. It simply projects the shops of Taobao onto an English, easy-to-navigate site, where it is still advised that you check the seller rating before making a purchase. When purchasing something off of BuyChina, you are still purchasing from the individual Taobao shop.
Storenvy - an online marketplace where individuals from around the world can sell their products, or sell retail. Many Storenvy shops act as Taobao agents, meaning if you purchase an item off of their shop, they order the item directly from Taobao and have it shipped to you, and it never passes through their hands. Usually this is the most expensive method of purchasing items off of Taobao, but is also sometimes the easiest.