Although Taobao previously did not offer shipping to Canada, the company has since expanded. So does Taobao ship to Canada?
Now, the company offers direct shipping to Canada through its affiliated logistics company Cainiao.
Below, I’ll explain a bit more about how Taobao shipping to Canada works, how much it costs, and how long you should expect to wait for your package. Then, I’ll compare it to Alibaba and AliExpress, which both offer similar platforms with Canadian shipping.
Currently, Taobao ships to ten international countries, including:
- New Zealand
- The United States
Owned by global b2b eCommerce giant Alibaba, Taobao is a Chinese retail platform that’s centred around consumer sales. While Alibaba primarily focuses on selling bulk items to retailers, Taobao allows everyday shoppers to purchase many of the same individual items at affordable rates.
If you’ve ever used AliExpress before, then you’ll find Taobao quite similar. The main difference is that most of Taoboa’s platform is written in Mandarin Chinese, which makes it more appealing to Chinese speakers in Canada.
Taobao is based in Hangzhou, China and primarily ships within the Chinese mainland. Therefore, Chinese residents get the quickest shipping. Initially, Taobao’s distribution network was limited, and the eCommerce platform did not offer shipping to Canada.
After its parent company Alibaba created the Cainiao logistics company, though, Taobao was able to provide low-cost shipping overseas. Today, Canadians in any part of the country can order directly from Taobao.
If you’ve been keeping up with my recent posts, you may have read some of my posts about how to use package forwarding services to bypass shipping restrictions imposed by certain brands.
A package forwarding service provides a virtual address within the country you’re trying to buy from, allowing you to purchase items from international vendors that you wouldn’t otherwise be able to.
The forwarder receives your package and then charges the customer a premium fee to forward the shipment across the border to Canada (or any other country). This clever “hack” can be used to purchase shoes, clothing, electronics, and other items that you’d otherwise have trouble getting in Canada.
Since Taobao offers direct shipping to Canada, you do not need to use a package forwarding service to get your order delivered to your home.
Oddly enough, I’ve come across several online blogs that claim otherwise. They claim that Taobao, “Does not ship to Canada,” and that Taobao shoppers need to use a package forwarder to make sure that they receive their package.
Not surprisingly, these statements are primarily made by package forwarding companies and their affiliates.
Package forwarding is a great service and can be incredibly useful in the right circumstances. In fact, I frequently use package forwarding services when I’m traveling internationally.
Most forwarders offer free or low-cost temporary storage until I’m ready to ship the items back home. This is a great way to save space on my luggage if I’m buying gifts for friends and family during my travels.
Taobao doesn’t manufacture most of the items sold on the eCommerce platform. Much like Amazon, Taobao is merely an online marketplace where individual sellers and online retailers can sell their products to consumers.
Each seller on the Taobao platform has the right to decide where they want to ship to. This means that not all Taobao sellers offer shipping to Canada.
While Taobao makes it easy for sellers to ship internationally through its partnership with Cainiao Logistics, some vendors on the platform choose to take care of shipping and handling themselves.
This is often the case with smaller vendors who don’t produce as much volume as larger sellers.
If you’re set on purchasing a certain item from a vendor that doesn’t offer shipping to Canada, then you’ll need to use a package forwarding service to receive your order.
If you’re shopping with a Taobao seller that doesn’t ship to Canada, then you’ll need to use package forwarding to bypass the restriction and get your order.
First, you’ll need to identify which country or countries the seller does ship to. Then, you’ll need to choose a package forwarder with warehouses in one of those countries.
Once you have a package forwarder locked down, follow these steps to get your Taobao order shipped to Canada:
- Shop online with Taobao’s online platform. Make sure that you’re only purchasing from vendors that offer to ship to the country where your package forwarding warehouse is located.
- Once you’re ready to checkout, input your payment information as you normally would.
- For the shipping address, you won’t use your personal address in Canada. Instead, you’ll use the virtual address provided by the package forwarding company.
- Place your order and wait for the forwarder to receive the package.
- Once the forwarding company receives your package, you’ll be notified. From here, you’ll be able to select between various shipping options to Canada and will be charged a shipping and handling fee.
- Now, you’ll just need to wait for your package to make it to the Canadian mainland from China (or wherever it’s shipping from). Since the package will have to pass through customs, this can take anywhere from several weeks to several months, so expect a wait.
Like I said, package forwarding is great for certain purchases. However, package forwarding is also quite expensive. The forwarding service provides a premium international shipping service, which rarely comes cheap.
You’ll also be paying for two separate shipping options – one paid to the Taobao seller and the next paid to the package forwarding company.
If you’ve never shopped with Taobao before, here’s a quick guide to get started and help you ship Taobao to Canada (without having to use a package forwarder).
Before you can add items to your cart and start shopping, you’ll need to create an online account with Taobao.
This process is relatively simple and just involves creating a username and password, linking it to an email address, and verifying your email. All in all, this should take less than five minutes.
After this, you’ll be able to browse Taobao’s full selection. The site categorizes items, making it easy to shop for clothing, electronics, home goods, kitchen gadgets, pet supplies, and more.
To make sure that you’re getting a good deal, I also recommend reading through some of the customer reviews on the site.
As I mentioned, not all Taobao sellers offer direct shipping to Canada. If you want to avoid having to use a package forwarder (and paying a lot of extra money), then you’ll want to filter your vendor results to ensure that you’re only being shown seller accounts that ship to Canada.
Once you’ve completed your order and added the items to your cart, you can pay for your order using your credit or debit card.
If it’s your first time shopping with Taobao, the international purchase may send a red flag to your bank or credit card company, which means you may have to approve the purchase with a text or phone call to your card’s customer service department.
If you’re ordering from the same company, then your Taobao order should arrive all at once. However, if you’ve purchased items from separate sellers on the platform, then your orders may also arrive separately.
Keep in mind that almost all products purchased on Taobao ship out of China. This, of course, means that shipping can take a while (often weeks).
From here, the packages will need to pass through Canadian customs, which may be quick but is often just as long as the first leg of the journey.
Due to expensive international shipping fees, shipping a Taobao order from China to Canada can be quite costly. Small orders may be shipped for less than $20 in shipping fees, while larger orders may incur shipping fees of up to $100 or more.
This depends partly on the Taobao seller you’re buying from and partly on how backed up Canadian customs is. The few times that I’ve ordered items from Taobao to Vancouver, I’ve had to wait at least two or three weeks to receive my goods.
Shipping duties are additional sales taxes imposed by the Canadian government on imported items. Thanks to the Mexico-US-Canada trade agreement, Canadians can import most items from the US or Mexico duty-free.
However, Canada doesn’t have a duty-free trade agreement with China at this time. As a result, Canadians purchasing items from Chinese-based Taobao sellers will need to account for an additional 5% GST sales tax levied by the CBSA (Canada Border Services Agency).
If your order is less than $20, then you don’t have to pay additional shipping duties.
Taobao’s eCommerce platform is incredibly similar to AliExpress, as both are owned by the parent company Alibaba. Generally speaking, I recommend AliExpress over Taobao for Canadian shoppers.
Unless you’re fluent in Mandarin Chinese, the majority of Canadians will have trouble navigating through Taobao’s website.
Additionally, Taobao is better suited to customers in Southeast Asia and China, while AliExpress is an international company that offers easy shipping to almost anywhere in the globe.
AliExpress’ product selection is nearly identical to what you’ll find on Taobao, it’s a no-brainer for me.
Is there an official Taobao app for Canada?
Taobao does offer an app that can be downloaded worldwide, including in Canada. However, the app and the website are primarily in Chinese, and while they do ship internationally, using Taobao will present some challenges if you’re not fluent in Chinese.
To navigate these challenges, some Canadian shoppers use third-party agents or services that specialize in facilitating Taobao purchases for non-Chinese speakers. These services can handle the purchasing, payment, and international shipping processes, making it easier to buy from Taobao in Canada.
Before using these services, it’s a good idea to check their fees and terms of service, as well as reviews or ratings from other customers.
Today, many Taobao sellers offer direct shipping to Canada. However, shipping can be a bit expensive, and your items may take a while to arrive, so make sure to account for this.
Personally, I’d rather order from Amazon and take advantage of Prime’s two-day shipping! Curious about Amazon Prime in Canada?
The platform is currently offering a free 30-day trial to new members. Keep on reading to see my full review of Amazon Prime Canada next!