The favourable exchange rate makes it easy to get carried away, but here’s why you should hold your horses: Purchases on Taobao are paid for in stages, and the first figure you see will not be the final. In fact, you will only know the actual shipping cost when your package arrives at the warehouse in China.
In cases where shipping costs are calculated based on volume and not weight, buyers who are confident of assembling their own furniture can request for an uninstalled piece to save money.

Through the same chat function, you can also request for wrapping treatments such as additional bubble-wrap, wooden crates, or “fragile” stickers to give that mirror its best chance of a safe voyage. Those who are ordering in bulk can also compare prices between Cainiao, Taobao’s default forwarder, with third party alternatives that typically cost less.


With that said, do not panic when items do not make it to your doorstep in one piece. If the seller has a refund policy, which is more common among reputable stores, there is hope yet. Otherwise, you can engage a handyman for minor repairs.

As these additional fees could offset your cost savings, you might want to take them into account when budgeting. The last thing you want is to have endured getting lost in translation for naught.

Even if your purchases need no salvaging, a handyman’s services could still be helpful. It’s worth mentioning that assembling furniture and fixtures from Taobao is a real undertaking –  even for those who can read Chinese instructions. So if you can’t follow an IKEA manual if your life depended on it, you know who to call.

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