Note: I was there from Feb 2014 – Jul 2014 (5 months), and Shanghai is a constantly developing and changing metropolitan city, so some things may not be relevant by the time you get there.
Now, I am not saying that I am a pro when it comes to online shopping in Shanghai, but I did my fair share of it while I was there for clothes and general household items. Shanghai is truly a city that is is made for online shopping.
Online shopping is just too convenient, and especially if you don’t have a car, it’s just easier to click a few buttons on your phone (or your laptop) and make the purchases. We bought textbooks, food, face masks (for the pollution) and clothing items online and were quite happy with our purchases.
I bought a lot of my clothing items on TMall towards the warmer months because I did not pack enough. Clothes on Tmall are just affordable and easy to buy. I won’t speak for quality as there are great and bad quality items no matter what price you pay, but I was sufficiently satisfied with my experience on TMall.
We had to set up a Chinese bank account and pay for everything with Alipay (支付宝) which is the PayPal equivalent in Shanghai for TMall/Alibaba. Everything was paid in advance and tracking is usually provided.
Exception: JD.com – we once bought something from JD.com and there was an option for us to pay on delivery. The courier missed us 3 times (morning, noon, early afternoon) that day and was waiting for us outside our apartment gate with a POS waiting for us to pay :p I don’t think he would have been that patient had we paid we in advance at the time of purchase.
Their delivery system in Shanghai is 7 days a week, no joke. I was so shocked when I got phone calls from agitated couriers asking why no one was home on a day I thought there was no delivery. I think in the end, whenever we weren’t home, they would just leave our items in the firebox. Some of them even stacked boxes of stuff underneath our floor mat.
Writing this post really makes me miss Shanghai.