Friday, June 25, 2021

A Lolita's Guide to Reservations on Taobao

 As you search for lolita items on Taobao, Google translate may keep spitting out terms like ‘spot’ or ‘tail’ on some of the listings. You may also find ‘deposit’ listings where the item is extremely cheap and suspicious or a weird listing of something you want that has a 99999 price. What does this all mean?

These terms are actually all part of the reservation system for lolita items on Taobao. Today, we will be looking at how it works and go through a few examples to get you familiar with it. ♡


Making lolita items is a high risk activity. A lot of these brands operate on thin margins and cannot afford huge losses if something doesn’t sell. As a result, many items are produced via reservations only and may not get extra stock or a re-release once the reservations are done. So if you want to get the best of what Chinese brands have to offer, it is helpful to know about reservations.

Most of the time, it will be a 2 part reservation that requires the buyer to purchase 2 separate listings - one at the start of the reservation period and another when the items are ready. Other times, the shop will use Taobao’s built in reservation system. For small items, the full payment may be required up front, but there will still be a wait for the production period.


First, we will go through the normal process your shopping service follows so it’s easier to understand what’s happening behind the scenes. Then we will go over the process that you will follow when using a shopping service.

NORMAL PROCESS (the one your shopping service follows)

  1. The shop puts out a deposit (定金) listing to start the reservation. This is the first payment and not the final price of the item. It is generally a small fraction of the final price. This payment is non-refundable once the deposit (定金) period ends. It is usually open for about a month before they no longer accept orders. In very rare cases, there will be a cap on the number of orders instead of a time limit.
  2. Production will begin. The listing may be updated to indicate this such as with a 99999 price or a title change with in production (制作中) in it. The production period highly varies and it is often a few months, depending on the volume of orders or how many orders are in each batch of reservations. The shop will normally list how long it takes on the listing, but it can be delayed due to a number of different factors, such as having more orders than expected.
  3. When the items are ready to be shipped, the shop will send out notifications to everyone who purchased the deposit (定金), like a text message. They may also announce it on their other platforms such as Weibo in case text notifications fail. This is when the final payment (尾款) is ready to be paid. This period also generally lasts about a month but it will depend on the specific shop. This type of listing can only be purchased if the deposit (定金) for it was paid earlier.
  4. Once the final payment (尾款) period is over, there may be some items where someone bought the deposit (定金) but failed to make up the rest of the payment to get the item. These items are usually put under a listing titled spot (现货) or spot drop (现货掉落). These items are in stock and there is no wait for it to be produced. It is often more expensive than the deposit (定金) and final payment (尾款) payments combined, and if there were any reservation benefits, it won’t be available when buying the spot (现货) listing.

SHOPPING SERVICE PROCESS (what you have to do, depending on your shopping service)

  1. Find the listing for the item that is available for reservation. Make sure you are within the reservation period, as some shops are slow to update the listing. Time zones are very important! It should be the listing with deposit (定金) in the title.
  2. Make sure you are familiar with the final price of the item, which is the deposit (定金) + final payment (尾款) amounts combined. It will save you the heartache of finding out if you cannot afford the full price of the item.
  3. Submit this link to your shopping service. Most shopping services will require you to make a payment for the full price up front. They will keep track and pay when the second payment is ready.
  4. Your shopping service handles everything so you just wait.
  5. The item is ready and gets shipped out to your shopping service, who then ships it out to you.

You may also see listings titled intention gold (意向金). If the shop is uncertain about how many people are interested in something, they may first put out a intention gold (意向金) listing instead of going straight to putting an item up for reservation. It is usually something small like 10CNY. This amount can generally be refunded at any time. It is a way to judge how many people are interested in buying the item aside from collecting likes on the listing. If reservations end up happening, this payment will go towards the deposit (定金) of that item. Depending on the store, there may also be other benefits such as free gifts or a better discount on the item.


Shopping services like 42agent, Spreenow, or Chinese Lolita Updates will make you pay in full and handle the rest themselves. If you are new to this whole process, I recommend going with a shopping service like them. Sometimes shops will have discounts if the total number of reservations reaches certain thresholds, but a lot of shopping services will not pass on this discount to you so you will just pay the full price. The reasoning behind this is because it will be easier for them to keep track since they are doing all the work.

If you use a shopping service like Superbuy, it is a bit more complicated. When you submit the deposit, they will warn you that it is a reservation item and you need to make up the payment later. The deposit will be non-refundable. When the final payment is ready to be made, you will need to submit a second order and note down the order number of the first payment. The agents usually say that they will notify you when you need to make up the payment, but I will still recommend keeping track of it yourself.


Now that you’ve learned how this all works, here’s a handy dandy reference table to help you in the future! I’ve also added a few extra terms that may be helpful for your overall understanding.



Google Translate English







yìxiàng jīn

intention gold

A way for the shop to collect interest in the item before any reservation happens. Very cheap, like 10CNY. If there is not enough interest, the item will not be made and it will be refunded.




The first payment for the reservation. Non-refundable.



final payment / final paragraph / tail

The final payment for the reservation. Can only purchase if you made the first payment.



spot / stock / in stock

In stock items, no need to wait for production period.


zhìzuò zhōng

making / working / in production

Item is currently in production, cannot take any more reservations. Do not purchase.


quán kuǎn

full payment / full price / full amount

The price of 定金 + 尾款 added together, this is the full price of the item through reservations.

If you need practice, here’s a few examples. Can you get all of them right?

  1. The first two characters in the title of the listing say 尾款 so this is the final payment. You can only purchase this item if you had already put in the initial deposit (定金). If you just encountered this listing, then your shopping service would not be able to buy it for you because the deposit period has passed. You are better off waiting to see if there is spot (现货) at a later date.

  2. This one is a lot tougher. The 定金 is hidden in the middle of the title. This is the deposit. The final cost of the item will be this price + the final payment (尾款) amount. Check the listing to figure out the final price.

  3. Back to an easy question! It clearly lists 定金 at the beginning of the title so this is the deposit. Again, the final cost of the item will be this price + the final payment (尾款) amount. Check the listing to figure out the final price.

  4. There is a 现货 at the beginning of the title. This item is in stock! If you buy it, it will be shipped right away without needing to wait for production time.

  5. The 99999 price and 制作中 in the title indicates that this item is currently in production, so no more orders can be accepted. You may have to wait and see if there will be spot (现货) available at a later date. There is also a 尾款 at the end, but if you read the full line, 6月尾款, it just means that the final payment will be ready in June.

Depending on the shop, there may be differences in this process and some of the terms, but I hope this gives you a basic understanding of what is happening.

Good luck on your lolita journey~!


1 comment:

  1. This is super helpful. Thank you! I kinda pieced together a bit of this but it's so much better to actually be able to place exact definitions with certain terms. Also helps me better understand gold intention vs deposit.
    Let's hope the outfit I paid for gets past the intention phase!!