Alibaba achieved $36 billion revenue on the Singles Day (11th Nov). In comparison, Black Friday 2016 hit the record-breaking $3 billions, less than a tenth of Alibaba’s figure. E-commerce has changed the shopping behaviour in China, and inspired people out of the country as well. Then, how can a foreigner be part of this exciting e-commerce wave?
Well, Taobao has launched its website for the premier overseas markets, but UAE is not on the list. AliExpress is an English online shopping platform powered by Alibaba. But the price is higher compared to Taobao. Moreover, the AliExpress delivery cost is not friendly to UAE users (AGAIN!).
What about ordering directly from Taobao and Tmall? Is it really that hard for foreigners to find products and complete orders? What about the shipping cost?
Let Seeniun Media help you out.
Barrier 1: Everything is in Chinese
Taobao and Tmall target Chinese audience, therefore, the whole website and product description are in Chinese. Most of Taobao sellers provide prompt and helpful customer services, pointing you to the right products, taking notes of all your requirements and answering any of your questions. Even if they are not 24/7 online, you expect a quick response on the chat (Aliwangwang). However, most of the sellers barely speak English (you might be lucky to find a few). The whole communication process is most likely in Chinese.
Solution: Google + Seeniun Assistance
Highly recommend Google Chrome web browser with built-in automatic translation from any possible language (that’s how I check Arabic content in UAE!) You can use image and English keywords (find the product keywords here ) to search for the products.
Communicating with the Taobao selling might be harder for the auto-translation, but that’s not the end of the day! Google Translate is becoming more and more intelligent with the help of machine learning over the years. Its translation quality, once complaint by many users, has witnessed massive improvement.
Barrier 2: How to crack Chinese payment methods?
Most of the global payment services, such as PayPal, Western Union or WebMoney, simply DON’T work in China. Without China residence visa, it is impossible for foreigners to open a bank account that means an online banking access. What about the credit cards? Unfortunately, the international credit card, Visa and Mastercard, are rejected on most of the occasions in China.
Solution: Set-up an Alipay account by yourself!
Alipay is the most ubiquitous form of electronic payment in China, Alibaba‘s mobile payment wallet. The compulsory verification with a Chinese phone number used to stop overseas users from completing the registration process, but it has changed. The overseas users can register with their local number and receive verification code accordingly. Simply download Alipay APP (or visit their website), switch it to English language and sign up with your UAE phone number. Or you could register on the English website (here)
Barrier 3: What about the logistics from sellers to me?
Although Taobao has launched its overseas market website and official forwarding Services (Taobao cargo) specially for international buyers. This service doesn’t include UAE as a destination. If you save your home address in UAE as the default address, Taobao will automatically quote a pricy deliver fee based on the AliExpress rate. How expensive? It is more than 90AED for the first 500g!
Solution: Dubai’s local logistics company Faster
Faster, a Chinese operated logistics company based in the International City, provides by far the best logistics solution to UAE – affordable price and quick customs clearance. (simple price structure: 15AED for the first 500g, and 10AED every 500g on top of it. )
You can chat with their customer service on wechat (faster0567680111) and track the delivery status on the website with the order number. Faster provides a recipient address in Shenzhen, to which Taobao sellers can arrange the domestic delivery. The whole delivery process takes around 2-3 weeks including the customs clearance. Once the parcel is in Dubai, you can pick it up from the International City.
Seeniun Media is the Chinese marketing expert. If you need any help or assistance to kick start your e-commerce business, don't hesitate to drop us a line.