Where to shop computer in China?
If you ever travel to China on a business trip or for a job or studying abroad, where do you buy your computer gadgets? There are two places. One is Taobao for on-line shopping and another is digial market (shù mǎ chéng) for local shopping.
In 2003, Taobao was founded by a Chinese company called Alibaba, one of the biggest eCommerce B2C and C2C platform other than Amazon and eBay. Over 50% of 1.3 billion people have bought a variety of merchandise from this website. Another subsidiary of Alibaba called Tmall also provides quality goods from quality vendors around the world to its customers.
Flexible payment methods facilitate purchases easier than ever. Domestic customers (including foreigners living in China) can use Alipay and UnionPay while international customers can use major credit cards. Therefore, there is no complication upon checkout.
You can find almost anything on Taobao stores. For example, if your laptop is missing a tiny spring, you need to purchase the whole fixture, which contains the spring parts, from a local retailer store and it costs a lot. Whereas, you can find that tiny spring parts on Taobao stores and it is cheap.
Goods shipment via local couriers is fast and a lot cheaper than FedEX and UPS. If you purchase many items from one seller at once, it is possible to bargain with the seller for waiving the shipping and handling.
Return policy is usually guaranteed by Taobao as long as you keep the merchandise in complete package with no damages unless otherwise specified.
If you can’t read any Chinese, or don’t have any friend to help, you probably can take a look at this AliExpress web site. It’s also from Alibaba group and its audiences are targeting at international buyers from all over the world. However, for the same product, price on Aliexpress may be higher than price on Taobao.
Digital Marketplace (shù mǎ chéng)
Major cities and districts often have their own so-called digital marketplace (shù mǎ chéng). It is a mall of 3 to 4 story high where retail stores of computer systems, computer parts, camera, cell phones and electrical equipment parts are gathered together. You can ask your colleagues or classmates where is your local digital marketplace.
We can always shop around and bargain for the best offers in such digital marketplace just like what we do at computer shows during weekends. However, stores that offer the lowest price may not assure you its quality of after service. Therefore, I suggest you to pick stores that sell merchandise at mid-range prices.
They accept only RMB and major credit cards. However, if paying by credit card, a 2%-3% of transaction charge will be billed on you.
Refund policy is weak unless the store is run by big corporations such as Apple Store. Chances are, you can still get item replacement rather than full refund if you were to buy stuffs from a smaller store.
Useful Chinese phrases for shopping
多少錢? -> duō shǎo qián? -> How much?
這個多少錢 -> zhè gè duō shǎo qián -> How much is this?
請便宜一點 -> qǐng biàn yí yī diǎn -> Make it cheaper please.
請再便宜一點 -> qǐng zài biàn yí yī diǎn -> Make it even cheaper please.
我要了 -> wǒ yào le -> OK, deal.
我不要了 -> wǒ bú yào le -> No, I don’t want it.
有沒有別種類似的 -> yǒu méi yǒu bié zhǒng lèi sì de ? -> Any other similar product?
我要再考慮一下 -> wǒ yào zài kǎo lǜ yī xià -> I will think about it.
加入購物車 -> jiā rù gòu wù chē -> Add to shopping cart.
結帳 -> jié zhàng -> Checkout
Shopping which way?
If you cannot wait for 1 to 2 days of shipment time, then you can buy your gadgets at local digital marketplace. If you have a plenty of time to shop around, then you can check out Taobao. Price-wise, it is about the same unless you pay by cash at local digital marketplace, but you probably will not get a receipt for it. However, if you catch celebration event on Taobao such as Chinese Single Day, then you will probably receive big discount upon purchase.