Sourcing cheap parts on TaoBao, China’s eBay

Matseng wrote about the Chinese eBay equivalent TaoBao as a great source for cheap electronics components. While the pricing is cheap, the downside is that most sellers only sell locally, so using an agent is a must. Read his full report below.

Local shops are nice when you need a few parts right *now*, but they tend to be rather expensive. If you need a dozen or so of the parts it might be better to purchase from one of the regular major suppliers like Digikey, Mouser or Element14/Farnell, they have usually cheap overnight shipping and somewhat better prices than one of your local smaller shops.

Then there’s eBay where you can find some really good deals, especially if you buy in (small) bulk quantities like 100 leds or 100 micro-usb connectors. Of course you’ll be hit with a 14-20 days delivery time unless you are in the same country as the seller – usually China or USA.

But if you want really low prices on parts in bulk (or even small) quantities you should have a look at They are like a Chinese eBay where you can find electronic parts (and almost anything else) for prices that will amaze you. The site is in Chinese only, but if you’re using Chrome it will automagically translate the pages to a very strange, but somewhat understandable, English. “Item” is translated to “Baby” so the search box says “Looking for what baby?” :-)

The shopkeepers normally don’t ship overseas and only accepts local payment, so you need to use an agent to make your purchases. You add the url’s of the items you want to purchase at the agents website. You’ll then pay the agent by credit card, bank transfer or paypal and they will order all your items and collect & repack them to a single box in a warehouse in China. Then they tell you how much to pay for the shipping to you plus their agent fee (varies between 4 and 15% of the total purchase values). Once you have made this second payment they will ship the box from the warehouse to you. Usually they have rather good discounts on the standard EMS/DHL/Fedex rates.

They also usually remove all invoices and other information with prices and then put a low value on the goods in order to reduce the risk of having to pay customs & taxes in your country.

These are some of the parts that I’ve just bought from TaoBao. With prices like this it’s easy to order a few hundred, or in case of the switches a few thousands, of them to have a small stock at home in your lab.

$0.50 100 pcs of 6×6 mm tactile switches
$0.11 SMD 16 Mhz crystal (small 5x3mm, not big HC-49)
$1.60 OLED display 0.96″ 96×64 pixels
$0.03 Piezo beeper/transducer encapsulated & wire-leads
$0.07 IR 38Khz Receiver module
$1.10 LiPo battery 3.7volt 240 mAh
$3.45 Full reel of 5000 pcs 0805 resistors

Try matching these prices at Digikey or even eBay… :-)

One thing that I didn’t buy was this 40w Laser Cutter/Engraver. For $283 it’s a steal even if the quality might be shitty. Unfortunately the shipping costs would most likely be another $283 :-) Link to laser cutter.

Via the forum.

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  1. This is interesting because I bought a development board off of ebay from China. There was a sticker on the back with an email address. I emailed the seller and asked him if he could beat the ebay price and I would buy from him and he wouldn’t beat the price.

  2. I’m interested in checking this out more, what do you find is best for translation? Just built in chrome translation ? Also, is there an easy way to filter out people who _will_ ship to US and take paypal ?

  3. Gerard: I’ve used both when I was living in Dubai as well as here in Malaysia. They are trustworthy and I got a partial refund once for parts that got damaged due to bad repacking in their facility. They deliver to most parts of the world including USA.

    Currently I’m using who specializes in deliveries to Malaysia and Singapore, being a VVIP level customer I only pay 4% in agent fees instead of their regular 8% :-)

    Superfro: I’ve only used the builtin translator in Chrome.

    Sometimes it can be really hard to find what you’re looking for. Then I usually just visit some random electronics stores and see if I can find a similar product there. I then copy the Chinese description of the item and paste it into and then remove as many as possible of the Chinese characters until the translation is only the words your searching for. Then copy and paste the Chinese characters into the searchbox in TaoBao. That usually gives a better result than just searching for the English terms.

    Here are some stores to get started from:

    IR Receivers:
    Piezo buzzes:
    Tactile swicthes:
    LiPo Batteries:
    CR2032 Battery holders:

  4. I know and agent buzz me if interested. This is introduce me last month by one of my Taiwanese friend. he’s wife is Chinese therefore she has a chinese account which required when purchasing from taobao. She can order and ship to you. I know this guy 3 years ago cause i do business with him before.

  5. Chinese language note: the ‘item’ that is translated into ‘baby’ as you mentioned actually does mean baby. The ‘bao’ in taobao means baby, and its also the same word for treasure. the ‘tao’ means to steal. So the sites name ‘tao bao’ is ‘to steal a treasure’. Chinese wouldn’t go for a name like ‘bargin low price’ stuff, so they use a nicer euphemism of ‘get stuff that isn’t crap for cheap’.

  6. Everything that selling in taobao are cheap and fair prices compare to eBay. I am coming from Malaysia, our currency is not high. With the price of USD in eBay, I really can’t afford to pay that expensive prices which selling by those China suppliers. For example, my external harddisk was broken down. I’m decided to replace the PCB board, the part number is 2060-771801-002. The price in taobao is just selling RMB 25.00 (Chinese Yuan). However, the eBay sellers are selling USD 24.80. Most of the eBay sellers from United States are selling defected spare parts. I was scammed by a US seller, who are selling a defected used Core 2 Duo processor for USD 200.00. However, in taobao China, due to the market is large. The seller got huge amount of used processors. They are just selling around RMB 100.00~300.00. I was bought 3 times from taobao and tested all of them are working in well condition. That’s why I really recommend to buy from taobao because it is cheap and trusted.

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