Life in China is different in so many ways from life in America. One of the most noticeable differences is the goods available for purchase in the shops and supermarkets. For my foreign classmates and myself, finding our everyday goods such as deodorant, maple syrup and DVDs can be an impossible challenge. Likewise, many of my Chinese friends here in Beijing desire for foreign luxury items such as Louis Vuitton bags and expensive facial creams. In the past, traveling family members and friends were given a long list of items to bring back to China from overseas.
However, this past challenge now has a solution! That solution is called “代购 (dàigòu).” “代购 (Dàigòu)” is an e-commerce company that links together buyers in mainland China that wish to purchase foreign goods from individuals outside of China. Those individual “purchasers” may be in Australia, the USA, Europe or elsewhere.
代 (Dài): to replace.
购 (Gòu): to buy; to purchase.
…it’s as simple as that!
Obviously, it doesn’t make sense for these overseas purchasers to buy things such as chili peppers or toilet paper to send to China. We already have that here! Therefore, popular goods include foreign liquor, luxury bags, clothing items and cologne/perfume from resources abroad. Vice versa, people in foreign countries can contact buyers in China to obtain Chinese goods to be sent to their countries. Popular Chinese goods sold to foreign locations are “酒精类饮料 (jiǔjīng lèi yǐnliào) Chinese alcoholic drinks” such as “白酒 (báijiǔ) white liquor.” These items are difficult to get outside of China. “代购 (Dàigòu)” is like a modern-day Silk Road, helping people obtain exotic goods for purchase. “代购 (Dàigòu)” sales across all market now total $15 billion USD annually.
So, now you have a good idea of the things that “personal buyers” may ship to those in China and may also ship from China to those abroad. Just as “the grass is always greener” on the other side, so are those products that we may wish to have!
Ann: Wǒ xiǎng gěi wǒ nǚ’ér mǎi guówài de nǎifěn, nǐ zhīdào nǎlǐ néng mǎi dào ma?
Ann: 我 想 给 我 女儿 买 国 外 的 奶 粉，你知 道 哪里 能 买 到 吗？
Bobby: Nǐ kěyǐ zhǎo ____.
Bobby: 你 可以 找 ____。
A. 老师 (Lǎoshī)
B. 房子 (Fángzi)
C. 代购 (Dàigòu)
Philip Reed is a Mandarin Chinese student in Beijing. He has been studying for one year in China and before that had an interest in Chinese at university in the U.S. He loves Chinese music and culture and can sing a few Mandarin songs at the KTV when he has free time!