[PHOTOS] Taobao’s new shop lets you try furniture before buying it online – here’s what it’s like

Now you can check if an item looks like its online photo.
Rachel Chia/Business Insider

BTO-ers, rejoice – you can now stock your home full of Taobao furniture without taking a risk on size or quality.

The Chinese ecommerce giant launched its first physical store in Singapore’s Funan Mall on Wednesday (Sept 4), which acts as a showroom where customers can see items before buying them online.

The platform is known for offering tons of trendy furniture at budget prices, but customers previously had to rely on pictures to decide if they wanted to buy something.

Now, the store gives them the chance to see and test the pieces first.

Business Insider visited the store before its launch. Here’s what it was like inside:


Bargain hunters, take note: Singapore is now home to Southeast Asia’s first physical Taobao store.

caption
You can see, touch and test out furniture sold on the site.
source
Rachel Chia/Business Insider

Tucked in a corner of Funan Mall’s Basement 2, the store has over 300 items, mostly chosen for their popularity online.

caption
Like this fetching set of ceramic cutlery and matching table.
source
Rachel Chia/Business Insider

Taobao decided to open the store after the overwhelming popularity of its NomadX showcase at Plaza Singapura last year.

caption
Customers want to touch and see furniture before buying, as it tends to be more expensive, said Taobao’s Singapore business development lead, Charlene Zhang.
source
Rachel Chia/Business Insider

When we visited, the store had two “rooms” on display: a bedroom and a living room.

caption
Furniture on display will be changed every three months.
source
Rachel Chia/Business Insider

The furniture in these rooms was mainly from Linsy, a top-selling merchant among Singapore users.

caption
Decorative products from other brands were also featured.
source
Rachel Chia/Business Insider

In other parts of the store, there were multiple chairs, sofas, shelves and tables on display.

caption
Everything in the store can be bought – even the overhead lights.
source
Rachel Chia/Business Insider

There were heaps of decorative items, like decals, vases, cushions – and strangely, a whole shelf of puzzles.

caption
A rep said the puzzles were a top-selling item.
source
Rachel Chia/Business Insider

There were two beds on display, and one wardrobe.

caption
More items will be added in the future.
source
Rachel Chia/Business Insider

The kitchen zone featured cutlery and appliances like pots and juicers, as well as one island.

caption
The pipe shelves are also for sale.
source
Rachel Chia/Business Insider

One section featured popular household items, like cleaning gloves with a built-in scrubber.

caption
They sold out quickly.
source
Rachel Chia/Business Insider

To buy an item, customers have to scan a QR code and order it off the Taobao site. It will be delivered one or two weeks later.

caption
However, small decorative items (like bowls) can be purchased on the spot.
source
Rachel Chia/Business Insider

None of the larger items had price tags. This is because prices change daily depending on the merchant, a Taobao rep explained.

caption
Prices of items in the store that day ranged from S$650 for a bed to S$275 for a cabinet.
source
Rachel Chia/Business Insider

The most impressive part of the store was a screen with software that lets customers design the interior of their house.

caption
Staff will help.
source
Rachel Chia/Business Insider

The software can create a 3D layout of a customer’s home with a floor plan supplied by the customer.

caption
This was a unit in Malaysia’s R&F Princess Cove.
source
Rachel Chia/Business Insider

The customer can then test out layouts and see what furniture can fit the flat.

caption
No more measuring tape and exasperated returns!
source
Rachel Chia/Business Insider

We tried changing the furniture in 3D to try out different looks.

caption
I could see this feature being incredibly popular with newlyweds or anyone looking to furnish a home from scratch.
source
Rachel Chia/Business Insider

For me, the best part of the store was definitely the software.

caption
It’s not sexy, but it works.
source
Rachel Chia/Business Insider

As far as I know, a typical Taobao furniture shopper wants to decorate their space stylishly on the cheap.

Because the software gives users a good idea of how their home will look after separate furniture pieces go in, this makes it a godsend for those trying to DIY their interior design. If used properly, Taobao’s new service will save homeowners from scenarios like mismatched furniture, too-large or too many items, and the trouble of lugging pieces around to test different layouts.

A word of warning, however: Taobao expects the software service to be very popular once the store is open, so booking a slot early to use it is highly recommended.

Read also: