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Five key features of Taobao – Alibaba’s online shopping platform4 min read

Taobao, founded and launched by Alibaba Group in 2003, has now become the world’s biggest eCommerce website. Similar to eBay and Amazon, Taobao provides a platform for C2C (customer-to-customer) retail, so that small businesses, entrepreneurs or individuals are able to open their own online shops on Taobao. According to the latest research in 2018, Taobao has over 580 million monthly active users,  ranking top among Chinese – and global – eCommerce platforms.

Taobao works smoothly and its features are perfectly tailored towards Chinese customers. In this article, we outline five key features of the eCommerce giant.

1. Your questions about the products could be answered in seconds

In Taobao, each user has an account which allows them to talk with the sellers freely. If you have any questions about the product, simply click the message button in order to talk with the sales assistants. The message page will automatically create a link to the product you were viewing previously to help guide the assistant to the product in question.

If you start a conversation, sellers will usually send you a list of the most frequently asked questions, such as ‘what’s the minimum spend to get free shipping’, ‘when will my order be shipped’, ‘what’s the return policy’ and so on. If you still have other questions, simply type it in and the sales assistant usually replies within seconds and they are usually extremely helpful and effective. You can even tell them your height and weight and they will tell you which size to buy.  In some bigger shops, there might be hundreds of sales assistants available in one shop. The system will automatically match and connect you after clicking the message button.

2. Everything is trackable

In Taobao, every single product is trackable once shipped and there are no different classes of shipping services available. Instead, there are many different shipping companies available who provide a pretty similar service. Usually there are one or two default companies used by different sellers, however you could always negotiate with the sellers if you prefer another company.

Recently Taobao has released a function to make it even easier for customers to track their orders. By simply clicking ‘tracking’, customers will be directed to a page where a map will show the exact location of the order, followed by a clear timeline stating when and where your order has been. It will also give the user the estimated time of arrival.

3. Share your purchases

Another feature on Taobao that differs from Western sites, is that everyone loves to share their orders. Within every single product page, there is a ‘comment’ section where customers can post words, images or even videos to describe and share their orders or shopping experience.

Customers can be totally honest here, and express their happiness and gratefulness for buying the products, or complain about the products or customer service. Sellers can also utilise this function by replying to customers’ comments to thank them, or respond to the product or service feedback. Users of Taobao already heavily rely on this section to judge the products before buying, whilst Taobao actively encourages users to share their purchasing experience – rewarding them with some points if they comment carefully.

Customers are also given the opportunity to feedback on their purchases after several months. This is a perfect guarantee for customers who buy products which have a long-term effect such as teeth whitening or weight loss products.

4. Internal Remarketing

Taobao has its own powerful remarketing strategy, where every single product you have viewed is remembered by the system. By the time you open your Taobao app again, you will see your homepage full of the products you have just viewed yesterday, as well as a lot of similar products that you may potentially like.

Taobao smartly learns what users like or would be interested in buying, then chases them by recommending the same or similar products. If you have searched for something similar to something you have searched for before, the products you have previously viewed before will be shown first, followed by other products according to your search enquiries.

5. live stream shopping

Live streaming is commonly used by people on social media platforms to share moments in life. In Taobao, it is now a huge trend for sellers to use live streaming in order to promote their products or services, as well as to engage with customers further. Sellers can share special vouchers, which are only retrievable by customers watching the live stream. Some sellers use live streams to explain their new season collections and even try them on for those watching. Customers can also ask the sellers questions in the live stream video, such as sizes of products, and the sellers can respond instantly. Sellers can also send out the product link directly after showcasing the new products.

Apart from the five main aspects discussed above, Taobao has many other features which are perfectly tailored for Chinese people, and they may be the reason why Taobao is the most popular eCommerce site in China. To find out about these other features and to discuss how you could use Taobao in your next campaign, contact us