Taobao’s popularity in the Chinese market is unparalleled. The marketplace has over 1 billion products, and is now the center of attention for many online sellers in the US.
But the biggest problem is, Taobao’s website is entirely in Chinese. And product sourcing can become a nightmare if you don’t understand the language.
This article is solely dedicated to deconstructing this barrier for English-speaking sellers and dropshippers.
We’ll be going through the best methods to translate Taobao into English along with some tips for sourcing from Taobao.
So let’s dive straight into it!
How to Translate Taobao from Chinese to English
You can use several methods to convert Taobao into English, including Google Translate.
Before we start, just a heads up that the translations from these methods may not always be accurate.
But it can still be helpful for English speakers trying to navigate the website.
1) Use a Browser to Translate
Using a browser to translate Taobao’s website is the easiest and fastest way to get the job done.
However, the translations are not exactly the best since browsers usually translate word by word.
Regardless, it’s enough for a user to understand the basic meanings of the text displayed.
The first step is to install a browser that offers a webpage translation feature. Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, and Safari offer this feature.
We’d recommend you go for Google Chrome due to its higher accuracy in translation. Firefox also requires you to download the extension separately which is time-consuming.
Once you download the browser and install it, the next step is to visit Taobao’s official website on Google Chrome.
As soon as the page loads, Chrome will show a pop-up requesting your permission to translate the webpage.
Click on the option of English, and Chrome will automatically translate the webpage.
If the pop-up does not appear when you visit Taobao, you can turn on the feature by accessing Languages from Settings.
Note that Chrome will not translate every single word on the webpage, but it will cover most of the text, such as descriptions, buttons, and product categories.
2) Use Google Translate
This is time-consuming but produces better results than our previous method.
It might be worth using Google Translate to translate Taobao’s webpage manually.
This does not require you to copy-paste chunks of Chinese text into the translate box.
Instead, Google Translate offers a lens feature that allows you to upload screenshots and have them translated within a moment.
So, all you have to do is take a screenshot of the Taobao webpage and upload it to Google Translate.
You can also crop the screenshot to translate any specific part of the webpage.
Once again, the method isn’t the fastest. But it’s still pretty helpful, especially if you just want to translate specific chunks of the text.
3) Use a Translation App
Translation apps can be even more helpful depending on what source they’re using to translate.
Google Translate does have its own application available on both Play Store and App Store. But there are other good options too such as the Translate App.
Nevertheless, any app that allows you to take pictures and translate text on-demand is the way to go.
This brings us to our next question: Can the Taobao app be translated into English as well?
Unfortunately, the Taobao smartphone app does not have a button that translates the entire page into English at once.
But you can take screenshots from your phone and upload them on the translation app of your choice.
It could be any decent app from your app store, or you can again simply use Google Translate on your phone.
4) Hire a Taobao Agent
The last resort is to go one step further and hire a Taobao agent.
Taobao agents are professionals who know Taobao from the inside out.
Assisting foreigners in sourcing products from Taobao is their job.
Not only will they demolish the language barrier for you, but Taobao agents also offer a wide range of other services.
Some of these services include finding the best prices, negotiating with sellers, handling the shipping process, and more.
Of course, this method is costly. But if you’re not familiar with Taobao at all, hiring an agent would be a better option than figuring things out yourself on an entirely Chinese platform.
Once you begin conducting business with Taobao on a large scale, your Taobao agent’s fee would easily be covered.
Tips for Sourcing Products on Taobao as an English Speaker
Now that we’ve discussed how to convert Taobao into English, the next step is to get on with the sourcing process.
Getting started on Taobao as an English speaker can be a challenge. Sourcing products on Taobao is not as simple as on AliExpress.
The initial challenge is finding winning products on Taobao. Where once again, the language barrier can create some problems.
Taobao’s listings are in Chinese, so using keywords to find products might just take ages.
Thankfully, Taobao has an image search feature that users unfamiliar with the Chinese language can utilize.
You can learn more about it by reading our detailed guide on how to use Taobao image search.
Moving on, what else is there to keep in mind when sourcing products on Taobao as an English speaker?
We’ve listed some general tips and tricks below that would come in handy for our readers getting started on Taobao.
1) Take Your Time When Finding Products
Taobao is a huge marketplace with over a billion products. Since the sheer variety makes finding a better bargain possible almost every time.
You’ll find plenty of attention grabbing options, but the key is to not settle too early.
This could make you miss out on potentially better deals that are superior in terms of both price and quality.
Try leveraging its sorting and image search feature to dig deep and find top-quality yet inexpensive products.
Not to mention that refunding products on Taobao is a tiresome and complex process, despite their reasonable policies.
So it’s sensible to take your time and make deals that won’t need reversals in the future.
2) Always Calculate Your Shipping Costs before Ordering
Taobao only began shipping to the US recently. However, compared to other marketplaces, the process isn’t as straightforward.
Things get even more complicated when you’re calculating shipping costs.
Although there are multiple ways to ship from Taobao to the U.S, the costs are quite often the same, unless you change the medium of transport.
Taobao’s shipping cost calculation may either depend on the mass or the weight of your package.
In most cases, you’ll find very cheap items breaking the bank when it comes to shipping costs, just because they occupy more space.
So it’s recommended to consult your seller about the dimensions and weight before ordering.
This way, you’ll be able to calculate costs more accurately. It is time-consuming but can save you a lot of money in the long run.
3) Establish a Relationship with a Trusted Vendor
Sourcing products from Taobao is a lengthy process. But as an entrepreneur, the success of your business will mainly depend on your sourcing strategies.
A primary factor that plays a role here is your relationship with your vendor(s).
Taobao’s sellers are all Chinese. It would be a miracle to come across a seller fluent in English in the Chinese marketplace.
Though communication might be a hurdle, verifying their reliability and trustworthiness is essential before establishing a deal.
You might have to make some extra effort in translating your messages, but unfortunately, there is no other way around it.
FAQs about Taobao Translate
Does Taobao Have an English Version?
Taobao does not have an official English language version.
But there are sourcing agents that allow you to bridge the gap between Taobao and other Chinese marketplaces.
If that sounds costly, then you can also easily translate Taobao using Google Chrome’s webpage translation feature.
Why Is Taobao in Chinese?
Taobao was primarily created for the Chinese consumer, which is why its website is in Chinese.
The sellers on Taobao usually do not speak English. However, Taobao does offer customer support in English.
Taobao might probably introduce its official English version in the upcoming years to expand its customer base.
Is Taobao Cheap?
Taobao offers very low prices of products as compared to other online marketplaces.
Since it has millions of products, the high competition automatically lowers the price standard.
Manufacturing in China is also relatively cheaper, which is another reason why the costs are low on Taobao.
Sourcing products from Taobao can be a major challenge for non-native speakers.
But with the help of Google Translate, users can find cheap products, communicate with sellers, and make informed purchasing decisions.
Despite these difficulties, sourcing products from Taobao is undoubtedly worth it.
And if you’re still struggling, we at NicheDropshipping can assist you in sourcing products from Taobao and other Chinese marketplaces.
Simply submit a sourcing request and let us handle the entire process for you. Let’s bring down this language barrier together!