E-commerce in China is simple for foreigners who can’t do Chinese.
Get a Chinese friend to help you search, translate and make the purchase on Taobao. Repeat every time you need something online in China. (And as you tire of this, wonder why on earth Taobao, in its rush for riches, left behind the foreigners.)
Jack Ma might just kick himself when he discovers the latest addition to the e-Commerce world in China — Shoppinglu.com, the first English (and Chinese) e-Commerce site just for foreigners in China.
Like Taobao, it has a wide array of merchandise for sale at deep discounts (20 to 80 percent), just a click away — from strappy sandals to Hello Kitty hair straighteners to laptops to android devices to even scooters. Currently they have more than 3,000 items available, and plan to add even more. And, like Taobao, you can communicate with sellers if you need another color or size.
But what impressed me is that Shoppinglu.com strives to provide a better service experience. They offer five different payment methods, including cash on delivery and cash in advance. This is a godsend for anyone like myself who has crossed their fingers as they enter their Chinese bank card number in a rather dodgy e-Commerce platform (which will remain nameless). You can also use your Paypal, instead of having to sign up with yet another payment portal (which will also remain nameless).
Delivery fees range from 10 to 30 RMB — not much more than an average taxi fare around Shanghai (and less hassle).
The site has a much cleaner, more web 2.0 look than Taobao. So if you’re tired of a dizzying array of links and annoying, animated ads, you’re in for a treat.
Shoppinglu.com is also truly a joint venture effort, founded by a Christoph, who hails from France, and Clara, from China. They’re backed up by an international team of twentysomethings who surely hope this site will become the next Taobao.
Unfortunately, I’m not in Shanghai, so I haven’t had a chance to try it. But if you’re there — and tired of braving the foot traffic on Nanjing Lu or Huaihai Lu — give Shoppinglu.com a go, and let me know what you think.
UPDATE: While the cash on delivery option is currently ONLY for Shanghai residents, foreigners from ANYWHERE in China can buy on their site with Paypal or any other electronic payment method.