What are shopping services?
Generally speaking, in the cosplay and anime community, shopping services are used to directly purchase items from overseas.
Shopping services help purchase your items for you through their warehouse, then ship it right to your door. You are responsible for the cost of the item, in addition to fees from the shopping service. Fees typically are 10 percent the cost of your items– this can vary depending on the type of service you use. The fees also typically include shipping costs to the warehouse, plus the shipping costs to get to your door. But even with the fees, you can get excellent deals on cosplays.
What is Taobao?:
Taobao is a Chinese shopping website, similar to eBay. Taobao is the world’s largest e-commerce website. There are many different sellers, companies, and shops with various storefronts.
Taobao shops sells every day items ranging from clothing, to accessories, but users also havwe a large variety of cosplays, wigs, and props due to the increased popularity and demand of cosplay items. Because the website is in Chinese, I usually use Google translate to navigate Taobao. Though sometimes when words are on images such as sizing charts , this usually does not translate through Google. In a bit, I’ll discuss how to navigate around possible hurdles with translations.
A Heads up About Shipping Costs:
International shipping can be a bit on the pricey side if you want your items quickly. However, even with the fees and shipping, cosplays from Taobao can still be very affordable. I try to ask my friends if they want to join in on my orders in a group order and we sometimes split the cost of shipping.
EMS and DHL are generally the two options I personally tend to use to ship my items, though I strongly prefer DHL because of their excellent customer service and speed.
Here is a guide that serves as an introduction to shipping companies and services.
How To Navigate Taobao:
This video is by a YouTuber and is very helpful! She uses the same shopping service I’ve used for many years called Yoybuy. I have had excellent experiences with Yoybuy.
The YouTuber also showed a guide on Google docs. It is very helpful if you run into hurdles when translating. As for the search bar, if you have a hard time using it to search for items, you can use the Chinese characters here. Simply copy and paste what you are looking for! Though I do want to note that the search bar can be a little bit of a trial and error process.
With cosplays, I do want to note that you sometimes may be able to find more results if you put the series name in English, followed by the term ‘cos,’ in English which is short for cosplay. I love the series RWBY. So, as an example, I would search: ‘RWBY Cos.’
Love Live fans may also really like Taobao, due to the dozens of pages of items. You can search ‘Love Live Cos’ for results.
I am in the middle of an order as I write this blog post. I was super lucky and was able to find a cosplay from the soon to be released seventh series of RWBY, based on just the official promo art. Cosplays on Taobao often come out pretty early…and quickly!
Navigating Taobao does take some practice and additional research. I am not a native Chinese speaker and do rely on Google translate to find my way around.
How To Use Most Shopping Services:
Many shopping services, including Yoybuy, require a direct link to the product you are looking for, in addition to details such as sizing and custom measurements, if requested. Just copy and past the link to the item you’d like and add it to your shopping cart.
The shopping service will order the item for you. Most of the ordering process is waiting, as you wait for the items to be made or processed, then shipped to the warehouse and your home respectively. Be patient! Many shopping services will reach out to you and give updates. I have found that costumes can take around fifteen days for factories to make on average or less. But note that every store is different.
On the same note, please make sure to order outfits in advance. Sometimes even ordering a full on cosplay a month in advance may be cutting it a bit close.
If you do order a cosplay, it’s best to do so two months before a con, sometimes even three months if it is around Halloween to give the factory enough time to process your items.
But when I use Yoybuy and other shopping services, they usually let you know how long the wait will be. Keep in mind that there may be Chinese holidays at certain points of the year, but your shopping service generally will give you a heads up.
Many stores on Taobao do custom sizing. As a plus size person, this is very helpful, as I do not fit into Asian measurements.
If there is an option to do custom sizing for your particular item, I highly recommend putting in your measurements. Because Taobao is a Chinese website, measurements are in centimetres. I like to add five extra centimetres to my measurements for comfort.
From experience with custom measurements, generally shops request that you put your height, bust, waist, and hip measurements. But I also measure the width of my shoulders, as well. The more measurements you give, the better your cosplay will fit!
Shopping services may seem a little overwhelming at first. But take things one step at a time, do plenty of research by reading other guides, and don’t be afraid to reach out to other experienced users for questions.
If you want to use Yoybuy and have found this article helpful, I have an invitation link, which will give you a $10 coupon!