Online Shopping in Taiwan: A Guide for Foreigners

Learn how to buy from Taiwanese websites. Whether you’re in or outside of Taiwan.

You’ll need some guidance if you want to shop on Taiwanese websites from outside or inside Taiwan. That’s why I’m here. I’ve done my fair share of buying and selling online and will bestow my wisdom upon you.


Let’s Compare Shopping Websites & Apps

These e-commerce storefronts primarily focus on businesses without brick-and-mortar locations [1 PDF link]:

SiteMarket ShareInternational Shipping?Language/sWhat they Sell
Shopee21.4%NoEN, ZHAll categories
Momo Shop19.5%NoZHAll categories
PC Home9.7%NoZHAll categories
Yahoo! Buy9.5%NoZHAll categories
Lativ2.8%NoZHClothing (TW style)
7-Eleven1.9%NoZHAll categories
Rakuten Marketplace1.5%NoZHAll categories
PinkoiNAYesEN, ZHHandmade goods
Books.com.twNANoZHAll categories
ETMall NANoZHAll categories
Most popular e-commerce stores in Taiwan compared.

Legend: ZH = Chinese, EN = English.

The New Zealand Trade & Enterprise market analyst piece I linked earlier suggests that other platforms make up 33.7% of the e-commerce site market share in Taiwan. These sites likely include AliExpress, Pinkoi, Books.com.tw, etc.

Notes (important):

  • Books.com.tw has an English option. But when I clicked it, almost everything (except for the top bar) was in Chinese.
  • Pinkoi is basically Taiwan’s Etsy
  • Listings on Shopee remain in Chinese after checking English as your language.
  • Shopee, from my experience, has a lot of shady sellers and fake products (allegedly).
  • Momo Shop is my personal favorite and has provided the most pleasant experience.

Taiwan has thousands of websites, but these are its most popular sites without physical stores. I’ll discuss those in a separate section.


What Social Media Platforms Should You Buy From in Taiwan?

More than 91% of Taiwanese folks own cell phones [2 in Chinese] 9.3% of them use social media Buy buttons. Where do they all shop on social media, though?

PlatformPercent of SalesPercent of People Who Use it
Facebook Marketplace65%93.1%
Instagram34%47.1%
YouTube20%NA
Other19%NA
TikTok5%27.8%
Twitter / X3%NA
Usage of social media sites to buy products (in Taiwan).

LINE is Taiwan’s most used platform, with more than 90% of the country using it [3]. However, I couldn’t find statistics regarding whether people shop from it.

Your best option to buy stuff in Taiwan through social media is through Facebook Marketplace. It’s where I’ve sold a lot of things to foreigners and Taiwanese folks. I don’t buy much from social media. Thus, I can’t help there.

However…

I’ve heard of A LOT of bait-and-switch scams from shady Facebook sellers. They’ll promote products while offering a lower price. Then, once you order, you will receive a fake product.

If they have already scammed you, the best you can do is report and block them. Otherwise, buy in person when possible. Then, you can test the items to ensure they’re not fake.

Many Taiwanese people will sell through livestreams (Mandarin-speaking). It’s where my wife gets a lot of her stuff. I haven’t bothered to search whether English speakers livestream and sell stuff on Facebook in Taiwan.

Otherwise, most sales through YouTube, TikTok, and IG come from influencers. Less than 25% of Taiwanese follow brands to buy from. But more than 30% of them follow singers, influencers, etc.

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Source: oosga.com


Online Shops That Ship to Taiwan

WebsiteImport Duties Included?International Shipping?What they Sell
AmazonYesYesAll
iHerbYesYesSupplements
SephoraCase-by-CaseYesBeauty products
EbayDepends on sellerYesAll
List of popular websites that also ship to Taiwan

Notes:

  • Sephora doesn’t ship to Taiwan from their US website. You’ll need to shop from them using an international website.
  • Not all Amazons will ship to Taiwan. The ones that do typically charge a lot for shipping unless you meet a certain payment threshold.

When shipping from an international seller TO Taiwan, you’ll need to download EZ Way. I’ll emphasize when I talk about receiving products in Taiwan.

The Department of Health Taiwan (DOH) says that supplements cost 4X the amount in the US.

If you’re inside Taiwan, iHerb is the cheapest way to get most supplements. It used to be more affordable, but now they charge an arm and a leg for duties and import taxes if you buy over NT$2,000.

If you buy less, then you’ll need to pay shipping fees that are nearly the cost of your order. Get a friend to buy supplements with you if you don’t want to buy that many supplements.


Places to Buy Taiwanese Beauty Products Online

Here are a bunch of websites to buy Taiwanese beauty products—inside and outside of the country:

Online StoreLanguage/sInternational ShippingProducts
Annies WayEN, ZHYesMakeup
Dr. MoritaEN, ZH* NAHydrating and soothing sheet masks
PinkoiEN, ZHYesIndie brands
L’HerbofloreZH, ENNoSheet masks and skincare
NarukoZHNoProducts with natural ingredients
BeautyEasyZHHong Kong & MacauAsian beauty brands
YesStyleEN, ZHYesReseller w/ Taiwanese products
E-commerce stores that sell Taiwanese beauty products compared.

* Awaiting a response.

Notes:

  • English translation doesn’t work on L’Herboflore.

There’s not much to say about this section because I don’t know what kind of beauty products you’d want. These sites should be a good starting point in helping you find what you need.


Buying Taiwanese Electronics Online: Your Options

Don’t buy electronics online in Taiwan. You’ll never know what you’ll get, and your electronics could also be damaged during shipping. I’ve seen some delivery drivers get pretty rough with the packages.

Go to a 3C (technology store) or a technology shopping center to get electronics to test the products. If you want made-in-Taiwan electronics, you must search for specific brands that make their stuff in Taiwan.

For instance, Framework assembles their laptops in Taiwan. Though, many of the components come from other countries.

If you have a Costco membership, buy from them. You’re guaranteed not to get fake products. Moreover, they do a decent job sourcing their SKUs (stock-keeping units).

Buying from Carrefour is also another option.


Websites to Find Made-in-Taiwan Products

Are you looking for stuff that’s made in Taiwan (MIT) to support local businesses or for souvenirs?

Here’s a list of sites that I found that specifically sell MIT products:

SiteInternational ShippingLanguageProduct Focus
Lai HaoYesEN, ZHHandmade
Family ShoesNoZHShoes
Taiwan GoodsYesEN, ZH, JPHigh(ish)-end souvenirs
AtunasNoZHOutdoor wear
FushanKodo* NAEN, ZHIncense & incense holders
Bags to YouYesEN, ZHBackpacks
LayanaNoZHChopsticks
JingYang* NAZHTowels, rags,  & shirts
Websites that sell products made in Taiwan compared.

* Awaiting a response.

Notes:

  • Not all products on all these sites are made in Taiwan. Many sites have specific categories for MIT items.
  • Lai Hao doesn’t ship to many countries, but they do ship outside of Taiwan.
    • These come with additional shipping fees between NT$150 and NT$600.
  • Taiwan Goods does ship overseas, but requires you to contact them for a quote to do so.
  • Though I selected “English” on Bags to You, almost everything important still appeared in Chinese

Lai Hao, if you read this, I’d like a sponsorship (kidding—kind of). But they’re a great place to find handmade, MIT souvenirs.

This website aggregates products made in Taiwan and is a great source for finding additional items. If you’re in Taiwan, I recommend buying souvenirs from brick-and-mortar storefronts or stands at markets.

Then you can get a feel for what you’re buying.


Grocery Delivery & Food Ordering

When I want something from Costco, I’ll buy it online (95% of the time). Otherwise, I’ll spend more money on Uber and MRT fares than I would have saved by having a membership.

I also get food from Uber Eats once every blue moon. If you’re used to online grocery delivery and food delivery services, you’ll find these next sections useful.

Especially since they take place online.


Which Online Grocery Store is Right for You?

The following supermarkets and hypermarkets also have an online presence in Taiwan:

StoreLanguageReturns
CostcoEN, ZHYes
CarrefourEN, ZHYes
PX MartZHNo
RT-MartZHNo
A-MartZHNo
Taiwanese supermarket and hypermarket sites compared.

Notes:

  • You’ll need a Costco membership to shop from their website.
  • Most product listings on Carrefour’s website won’t translate to English.

If you have a Costco membership from one of these countries, you can also use it in Taiwan (sorry fellow Americans, not you):

  • Australia
  • France
  • Iceland
  • Japan
  • Mexico
  • South Korea
  • Spain
  • United Kingdom

If you’re a member in another region, they said to contact their customer service center for more information. I recommend emailing them to avoid awkward calls. At least then, they could use a translation app.


Battle of the Food Delivery Apps: Which One Reigns Supreme?

Uber EatsFoodPandaLalamove
Premium Service FeeNT$1,200/yr.NT$1120/mo.NT$1079/yr
NT$650/6 mo.
NT$119/mo.
NA
Market Share48%52%NA
Avg. Order ValueNT$301NT$318NA
LanguagesEN, ZHEN, ZHNA
Best ForDelivery qualityDiscounts, pricing, & varietyVariety
Taiwanese food delivery mobile apps compared.

Notes:

  • Mostly locals use FoodPanda because it offers a wider variety of restaurants.
  • Many folks seem to prefer the quality of deliveries from Uber Eats; I haven’t noticed a difference.
  • Lalamove isn’t a food delivery app in nature, but you can use it to pick up food from restaurants not supported by FoodPanda and Uber Eats
  • Uber One (premium service): Gives you free delivery on purchases more than NT$199.
  • Pandapro (premium service): Free delivery on orders higher than NT$179 plus additional discounts.

If you’re an American and are used to having additional services like Grubhub and DoorDash, those services aren’t in Taiwan. But tipping isn’t required for these apps.

Other fast food places like KFC and Pizza Hut offer in-house delivery services. However, their websites are in Chinese and don’t offer English translations.

Another source I found has different information with formatting that doesn’t make much sense. They say 80% of people use FoodPanda and 71% use Uber Eats [4]. How does that work? Anyway. They mention that 5% use fast food delivery apps (e.g., KFC) and Foodomo.

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Source: Statista

I’ve never seen or heard of Foodomo until writing this piece. But it exists.


Buying From Taiwan: How to Order

Before You Start:

  • Language Skills: If you don’t read Chinese, consider using browser translation tools or asking a Mandarin-speaking friend for help.
  • Taiwanese Phone Number: Have a local phone number ready, as most sites require one for registration and delivery updates.
    • Get a prepaid SIM card if you don’t have one.
  • ARC (Alien Resident Certificate): Some sites might request your ARC number for identity verification purposes.
  • Payment Options: While credit cards are increasingly common, some stores might only accept local payment methods or cash on delivery.

And here’s how to order from a Taiwanese website (assuming you found a website):

  1. Most websites will require you to create an account before placing an order.
    1. Enter your name (in English and Chinese, if possible), email, shipping address, and Taiwanese phone number.
    2. ARC: If the website asks for an ARC, provide it.
  2. Once you’ve selected items, add them to your cart and proceed to checkout.
  3. Ensure your address and contact details are correct.
  4. Select your preferred delivery method (home delivery or in-store pickup, if available).
  5. Choose your payment method and provide the necessary details.
  6. You’ll usually receive an email confirmation with your order details and an estimated delivery timeline.

Additional Tips

  • Be aware of potential shipping costs, especially for smaller sellers.
  • If ordering from abroad, you may incur import duties upon delivery.
  • If you have questions, contact the website’s customer service. Some larger retailers may have English-speaking support.
  • Understand the website’s return policy in case something isn’t right with your order.
  • Many Taiwanese websites don’t offer international shipping. In such cases, consider a mail forwarding service.

Buyandship is one option you could use to start your research. Otherwise, I recommend considering a virtual mailbox. Some of them offer mail forwarding services and a Taiwanese address.


How to Receive Packages in Taiwan

This method works if you have a friend or relative or are staying at a hotel/hostel with a fixed address in Taiwan.

Steps:

  1. Provide the Address: Share the complete address, including recipient name (in English and Chinese, if possible), floor number (if applicable), and phone number (Taiwanese number) with the sender.
  2. Track the Package: Once shipped, ask the sender for the tracking number and track the package’s progress online using the courier’s website or a tracking service.
  3. Delivery: Upon arrival, the package will be delivered to the provided address.

You (or your contact person) will need to be present to receive it, or some deliveries may offer alternative options like pickup at a convenience store.

How do I do it?

When ordering from sites that ship to convenience stores, I’ll go to the store I shipped it to when the package arrives. From there, I present my phone number and ARC to the staff. Most of the time, they’ll just need your phone number.

If you don’t speak Mandarin, write it down. They’ll likely know what it means.

Regarding stuff that comes to my home. The delivery person calls when they arrive, I go downstairs to pick it up, I’ll sign for the package, then be on my merry way.

Every delivery person I’ve encountered was fine with my chicken scratch English signature. They didn’t care whether I used my Chinese name.

Some virtual mailboxes allow you to pick up packages from their locations, but they’re located in certain cities. For instance, Anytime Mailbox (virtual mailbox) has mail pickup, but only in a specific building in Taoyuan.

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Source: Anytime Mailbox

Other coworking spaces offer mail pickup services as well. But these cost more than NT$3,000 monthly.

Virtual mailboxes are a better option if you’re temporarily in Taiwan and need to receive mail, but you’ll likely find more coworking spaces.


Receiving Packages From International Sellers

If you order from, for instance, Amazon, they’ll require you to download the EZ Way app to deal with customs. It’s available for Android and iOS.

Required information:

  • Taiwanese phone number
  • Email address: Not allowed to use “@hotmail.com” addresses
    • Apparently to prevent spam, though it doesn’t say anything about disposable emails…
  • ARC number or passport

Here’s what you’ll need to do:

  1. Download the app and sign up for an account
    1. If you select that you’re an ROC (Taiwanese) citizen, you’ll need to enter your ID information.
    2. From there, enter your Chinese name and ARC number.
    3. User ID
    4. Password
    5. Phone number
    6. Email
  2. Wait for a notification; that’s it for now until your package arrives in Taiwan
  3. Upon receiving a notification; select Real-Name Authorization
  4. If there’s any further information or confirmation needed, do so in this section

Whenever I use this app, it never sends me notifications or requires anything from me.

What if you don’t have an ARC or a Chinese name?

When signing up for an account, you SHOULD just be able to select “Other Certificate” and take a picture of your passport. According to this forum post (from 2023) that’s not the case. You’ll need to contact EZ Way’s customer support and send them your passport pictures if requested.

They should also be able to help you with the Chinese name conundrum. Because as a visitor, you likely don’t have one.

I’m in the process of writing a thorough guide on using EZ Way.


How About Group Buying?

More than 22% of internet users in Taiwan have tried group-buying websites or groups at least once to save a lot of money on online purchases. My wife said she was a part of that statistic.

Is it available to foreigners?

If you speak Mandarin, yeah. The most relevant group I could find is the BuyTogether board on PTT (Professional Technology Temple). And it’s mostly students who use PTT in general.

If you’re friends with Taiwanese students who have access to PTT, see if you can get in on the action of group buying from PTT. It’s a good way to save a lot of money in Taiwan.

If you’re on Facebook, try to find any group-buying groups. Or start your own.