After saving hundreds of dollars on chairs, TV consoles, and even kitchen sinks on Taobao, the last thing you want is to be overcharged for your shipping, which can come up to a pretty sum.

image: Taobao

If you opt for cargo shipping, there are three ways forwarding companies charge shoppers: by the actual weight of the item, volumetric weight of the packaged item, and per cubic metre (or, CBM) of the packaged item. Karen Wong, co-founder of local forwarder Etrove, says it is more economical for bulkier products to be charged by CBM.

“The wooden furniture sold on Taobao tends to be heavy, due to the chipboard material used. However, an item weighing 80kg might command only 0.24cbm of space; if you are charged by weight, your shipping fee might come up to be over $100 – but if you are charged by CBM, it will be only about $30,” she says. However, she adds that CBM calculations only apply to goods of minimum 1cbm, which means your package must measure at least 1m by 1m by 1m. 

Homeowners Aaron and Angela Koh, who say Taobao was their goto site when they were shopping for home furnishings for their Punggol flat, advise: “To save even further on shipping, ask individual sellers to flat-pack the items in a disassembled form, or in the least bulky manner.”