Electronics in Singapore aren’t cheap, but we’ve come a long way since the days we had to compare prices manually by going to Harvey Norman, Courts and Parisilk on foot.
Comparison shopping is so much easier now that retailers all have online stores. The problem now is that there are too many options. Should you buy your electronics online or offline? If you buy them online, should you buy through the mega chains or marketplaces like Lazada or Qoo10?
Unfortunately, the “right” answer always depends on the actual product you want. So, what we’ve done is a quick price survey of a few items to see whether it’s cheaper to buy electronics online or offline in Singapore.
Experiment #1: Samsung fridge
If you’re in the market for a new fridge, the first place you’d go to is one of the big 4 chains: Harvey Norman, Courts, Gain City or Best Denki. The megastore is a good starting point where you can check out different brands and identify the product you want.
Prices are usually competitive across the megastores, whether you purchase online or offline. Let’s take the Samsung 2 Door Fridge Steel (RT53K6257SL) as an example:
|Electronics store||Price of Samsung fridge|
|Harvey Norman (online)||$1,260.75 ($1,349 minus GST) + $30 delivery = $1,290.75|
|Gain City||$1,399 + $30 delivery = $1,429|
As you can see, Harvey Norman (offline), Best Denki and Courts all price the fridge at $1,349. (Gain City is the most expensive one, and it charges an extra $30 for delivery.)
Harvey Norman, however, has a trump card. When you order online for certain items, they remove the GST. In a flash, buying your fridge from Harvey Norman online becomes the cheapest option. In fact, you’d be silly to buy the item offline because you’d be paying extra for nothing.
Experiment #2: Mitsubishi aircon
Next up, the Mitsubishi Starmex System 2 Inverter Aircon (MSY-GE10VA x 2 / 1X MXY – 2E20VA).
We’ve had trouble finding this particular aircon model in the usual big electronics stores. Of the big 4, only Courts carries it. Perhaps due to inventory constraints, chain stores don’t always carry the full range of electronics and tend to focus on the newer models.
The solution? Go to online marketplaces like Lazada and Qoo10. With their massive selection of goods and multiple retailers competing to be the cheapest, they’re wonderlands of cheap electronics.
|Electronics store||Price of Mitsubishi aircon|
As expected, Lazada delivered the model we wanted – and it was over $1,000 cheaper than Courts. Cases like these are an absolute no-brainer. Online clearly wins.
Experiment #3: LG washing machine
Now, let’s compare washing machines. Our control product is the LG T2109VSAL 9KG Top Load Washer. LG Singapore’s website actually shows you the prices of the product across several retailers, and we found that most places price it at $599.
This time, we decided to level up our auntie-nesss and check the more “neighbourhood” electronics stores like Audio House and Parisilk. These all-in-one electronics stores have been around for ages, and we wondered if they would price their products competitively.
|Electronics store||Price of LG washing machine|
|Audio House||$599 + $40 delivery = $639 (includes $145 return voucher, so effectively $494)|
As you can see, Parisilk is way more expensive than the others. However, Audio House has this irresistible loyalty programme that makes it more worth it to buy the washing machine from them.
Just join Audio House as a member (it’s free for life!) to get cash vouchers to offset future purchases. If there are no cash vouchers bundled with the product you want, there’s a standard rate of $20 cash voucher given for every $100 spent.
In our case, we lucked out as the LG washing machine came with a $145 return voucher, making it effectively $454 + $40 for delivery.
Experiment #4: Philips LED TV
Encouraged by our success with Audio House, we decided to check out another small electronics retailer to see if they could offer a good deal too.
Enter Mega Discount Store, a consumer electronics store that has been around since 1994. Carrying products direct from manufacturers, it is supposedly able to offer cheaper prices (hence the name).
This time, we’re checking out the Philips 43PFT6150S 43-inch Slim LED TV. Mega Discount Store has the best price in town at $499, whereas most offline stores price it at $599.
The same product is sold online on Lazada and Qoo10 at similarly competitive prices, but probably not cheap enough to warrant an online purchase.
|Where||Price of Philips LED TV|
|Mega Discount Store||$499|
Experiment #5: Olympus camera
We’ve covered plenty of online and offline electronics stores so far, but they’re mainly general electronics and not specialists. However, for certain items such as cameras, you would definitely want to visit an offline specialist like Alan Photo.
Reason 1: product range. Alan Photo carries multiple products from brands like Canon, Olympus, Fujifilm, Leica, Nikon, Panasonic, Pentax, Ricoh, Sony – you won’t get such a range at any all-under-one-roof electronics store.
Reason 2: price. Here’s a comparison of the Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark II at Alan Photo vs general electronics stores. As you can see, you can save a couple of hundred dollars by buying it from Alan Photo.
|Electronics store||Price of Olympus camera|
3 more tips to save money on electronics
Unfortunately, the results of our price comparison show that there’s no easy way out of doing some serious homework before you make a purchase. It isn’t even clear-cut whether it’s cheaper to buy items online or offline! So, don’t just click “buy” on Qoo10 and Lazada, thinking you’re getting a good deal.
Here are 3 more shopping tips for saving money on electronics in Singapore:
1. Check the official website
When you’re shopping for electronics and have a particular brand in mind, one good way to do a price check is go to the brand’s website. Many actually tell you how much their products retail at and where to buy them, and it gives you an idea of which stores overprice the product (so you can avoid that).
2. Go to specialty stores instead of generic retailer
As we showed in the Olympus camera example, going to a general electronics store doesn’t always work out to be the best option. This is particularly if you want expert advice and product range.
Another example is gaming consoles, which you can buy for cheaper at Games Crazy Deals. They’re selling the Xbox One S 1TB Ultimate Edition HALO Wars 2 at $388, compared to $428 at Challenger, Harvey Norman, even if you’re buying straight from Microsoft.
3. Wait for sales
Sometimes, going direct can get you better bargains. We’re fans of the Mayer showroom at Ubi as this is where you can perv at kitchen and household appliances – fans, mixers, hoods, hobs, fridges, washing machines – from Mayer as well as other brands such as Ariston, KitchenAid, Bugatti and Mistral.
Regular prices here aren’t always be best, except during the Mayer sale which happens a few times a year (there’s always one around Christmas).
When that happens, prices drop by a whole lot. This writer bought a KitchenAid Artisan Series Tilt-Head Stand Mixer (5KSM150PSBSA) at nearly $100 lower than its usual price.
Do you have any tips for buying electronics in Singapore? Share them with us in the comments!