Opinion

Comparison Sites Obviously Benefit Consumers – Here Are Three Industries in Singapore That Need Them the Most

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Peter Lin

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2016 was a year defined by choices, and more accurately, choices that were often made without having all the facts at hand. It’s a year dominated by fake news sites and politicians who don’t even try to conceal outright lies. In times like these, it’s even more important to hear a balanced opinion from an independent third-party before making a choice.

That’s where comparison sites come in – just think of how established sites like SGCarMart and Skyscanner have helped local car buyers and jetsetters, respectively. More recently, comparison sites like CashChanger and Simlim.sg are helping Singaporeans compare money changers and electronics goods, respectively.

Comparison sites provide a necessary service by providing as much transparency as possible, so that you as a customer can make decisions with as much information as possible. And yes, just in case it needs to be said, MoneySmart is also a comparison site so of course we’re biased… but let’s be honest here. The benefits of comparison sites, especially in a country like Singapore, are obvious.

 

Really that obvious meh?

Look, Singapore is a really small country. You can cross the island in less than an hour, which means that people are often willing to travel a bit further than usual for a good deal. And because we’re kiasu and have a major case of FOMO, you can find us in ridiculously long queues, especially for soya sauce chicken noodles. And yet, though everyone in Singapore has their own personal preference for good food, we still rely on the opinions of a food guide like Makansutra, for example.

In the food industry, there are multiple competitors and involve several factors of consideration, such as taste, price and location. For similar industries, comparison sites are crucial to save you the time of doing your own homework, consolidating all the necessary information in one source. Simply put, comparison sites are the natural progression for the national attitude that we deserve the best value at the best price.

The only problem is, there are several industries in Singapore where comparison sites are needed, but either they don’t exist yet, or there isn’t enough information on these sites to be a valuable resource. Here are three such industries:

 

1. Wedding Services

Getting married is usually a once in a lifetime event, but there are so many factors to consider. Not only do you have to worry about getting the right person to officiate, you also have to worry about location, clothes, decoration, photography, and all the logistics in between.

Traditionally, you would leave all these responsibilities to a wedding planner, professional or otherwise. They would co-ordinate all the different service providers so that you don’t have to.  Not only do they save you time gambling on whether a service provider is reliable, but the more experienced wedding planners may even be able to obtain their services at a lower price.

However, wedding planner services are naturally not cheap, and trying to short-change a wedding planner is just bad form. And if you can’t afford (or want to afford) a wedding planner, what are your alternative options?

Recently, an online platform called Hitcheed launched in Singapore to help couples discover and compare local wedding professionals. Their website currently allows you to compare bridal studios, wedding venues, photographers and videographers, and allows you to filter results based on price and other factors, like whether a photographer will do overseas shoots.

While it is a pretty, interactive platform, Hitcheed is currently limited by the number of professionals listed on the site – they feature only 31 photographers, for example. So, while AndroidsinBoots, Multifolds and Smitenpixels Photography featured, Bryan Jean Photography is not. The good news, of course, is that comparison sites like Hitcheed make it easier for upcoming professionals to be featured.

We’d also be interested to see if Hitcheed compares florists, decorators, even rental car services down the line. Speaking of décor…

 

2. Interior Designers and Renovation Contractors

While buying a new home is the biggest transaction you’d probably make in your life, the next big financial expenditure would arguably be doing up your house the way you want it. And that’s often a difficult decision to make because there are so many different interior designers and renovation contractors in the market, and you’re usually relying on the suggestions of friends and family to find one that’s suitable for the things you want to do. Because if you don’t, you might be saddled with one who is out to make a fast buck, or does slipshod work hoping you don’t notice till it’s too late.

A comparison site for interior designers and renovation contractors would go a very long way in a country like Singapore. Of course, it’ll be hard to search based on price – since every project is usually unique based on the homeowners’ specifications – but in terms of getting a sense of transparency with the quality of work and the time taken, it would be good for potential customers to read reviews, especially those which contain red flags. Currently, companies like Qanvast have a directory of IDs with reviews, but there is no real standard in the market yet for a side by side comparison.

Also, the onus would then be on the comparison site to ensure that each review is legitimate and not an interior designer or renovation contractor out to anonymously badmouth their competitors, like naughty brats. And since we’re talking about children…

 

3. Childcare Services

Singaporeans know that children are going to be a big financial investment, but for many parents, that investment is often at risk because we don’t really know what to do with them after birth. What’s the best infantcare service? What are my options for fulltime childcare services?

The Ministry of Social and Family Development maintains Child Care Link, a one-stop portal to child care services, but ultimately, it’s little more than a glorified directory. Yes, you can filter based on location, operating hours, fees and types of child care services, but ultimately parents would want to know more information, wouldn’t they.

A proper comparison site would ideally save the parents the trouble of visiting more than three to four child care centres before they found the right one. Even with the most stringent filters, Child Care Link still gave me over 20 results – there’s no way I’d go to 20 child care centres just to see which is best.

 

What other industries do you think would benefit from comparison sites? Share your thoughts with us.

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Peter Lin

I am the poster boy for reinventing one's self. I've been a broadcast journalist, technical writer, banking customer service officer and a Catholic friar. My life experiences have made me the most cynical idealist you'll ever meet, which is why I'm also the co-founder of a local pop culture website. I believe ignorance is not bliss, and that money is the root of all evil only if you allow it to be.