March, 2018

Taiwanese snap up cheap goods on Taobao

Original article: The China Times

For some Taiwanese shoppers, Taobao is an ideal place to buy inexpensive consumer goods. Females in particular like shopping on Taobao for everything from stationary to clothing. Many Taiwanese buy inexpensive goods on Taobao knowing that the products won't last long. Counterfeiters, meanwhile, use the platform to import fake goods into Taiwan for sale offline. 


Taiwanese usually shop on homegrown e-commerce platforms like PChome or foreign ones that have been localized, like Yahoo. Taobao, however, offers products those sites don't: dirt-cheap consumer goods produced in mainland China. The variety of goods on Taobao trumps what's available on competing sites, fans of the Chinese platform say. 

Young Taiwanese female consumers are the island's most avid Taobao shoppers. With that in mind, O2O Brand Protection spoke to two of them. One consumer, who used to work in e-commerce herself, says that she likes the convenience of buying cheap clothing from Taobao. She doesn't look for knockoffs, just fashionable unbranded items. Both shoppers said they wouldn't buy fakes because they would be embarrassed to wear them. They also are wary of food and drink made in mainland China. 

Not all Taiwanese are so scrupulous. Street vendors, who have been a counterfeit sales channel since the days when Taiwan produced many fakes itself, sometimes use Taobao to import counterfeits for resale offline, usually at night markets. Taiwanese night markets are best known for their food stalls, but they also are an outlet for clothing and accessories - almost always of dubious origin and quality.  

Last May, Taiwanese police arrested a man for selling fake Chinese-made footwear and clothing at a suburban Taipei night market. If the goods had been genuine, they would have been worth about US$132,000 authorities say. Despite the goods' overtly poor quality, their cheap price tags - US$7 to $15 - attracted many buyers. One woman who purchased knock-off shirts and shoes from the vendor experienced allergic skin reactions, possibly linked to toxins in the apparel. 

Ever-frugal Taiwanese consumers should remember the maxim about bargain hunting: You get what you pay for.