As a Singaporean female (or just any ordinary common folk), I’m always on the lookout for cheap and quality buys online. As the Hokkien saying goes, “ai pee, ai chee, ai tua liap nee”; I want the best and most of everything, for less. So how can we save further on our online purchases? I interviewed 6 of my girlfriends who are regular MoneySmart readers on how they save on their online shopping:
Things they looked out for when shopping online
While half of my friends were suckers for the (stupidly) cheap prices on Taobao, there’s the other camp that isn’t entirely impressed; One of them mentioned the risk of buying sizes online, pointing out we’re actually wasting more money when the sizes turned out wrong.
Overseas merchants like Taobao might be cheap, but it’ll cost much more if you needed to return and/or exchange an item. She advised instead, to go for websites that not only offer free shipping, but free returns/ exchanges (meaning you don’t have to bear the costs of shipping them back) too. Which explains…
Online shops they frequently visited
After speaking to all my friends, I’d realised most Singaporean women are either really savvy with their money, or just flat out boring. Out of all the online shops in Singapore’s ecommerce world, the same few names kept popping up:
A UK-based online fashion (and beauty) store, this is an ecommerce giant that needs no introduction. Besides brand names like Mango, Asos stocks their own in-house designed apparel and other fashion items unavailable in Singapore. And most importantly, at a fashionable price too.
Shipping: Free, with a minimum spending of £9.28 (S$16.85)
Return/ Exchange policy: Free returns through Singapore Post. Just print a label, and post.
Basically the Singaporean version of Asos, many fashion and beauty brands can be found here at competitive prices.
Shipping: Free, with a minimum spending of S$40
Return/ Exchange policy: Free returns/ exchanges within 30 days. Exchange parcels can be dropped off at POPStations and SingPost counters, returns via Singapore Post.
A UK-based online book store, you’ve probably heard or seen this name floating around somewhere on social media, and for good reason! Besides having a large catalogue of books to choose from, prices are cheaper than the physical bookstores in Singapore.
Shipping: Free. No minimum order.
Return/ Exchange policy: Free returns for orders sent incorrectly.
This online marketplace might’ve received much flak for fake beauty products sold on it’s platform, but frequent giveaways of high value coupons alongside timed sales make buys really affordable. Besides, if you’d read the reviews and did the proper homework, it’s easy to discern between fake and authentic. Just like how you do with fake people.
Shipping: Varies. Depending on seller and delivery agents.
Return/ Exchange policy: Varies. Depending on individual sellers.
This might not necessarily quality as an online shop, but if you’d heard about the amount of hidden treasure my girlfriends’ had found on this online marketplace, you’d stop shopping anywhere else.
Shipping: Varies. Depends on seller and choice of delivery.
Return/ Exchange policy: None.
Best Buy World
A online ecommerce selling beauty counter brands like SKII and Lancome for cheap. Prices are an average 30% to 50% cheaper than what you’d find at departmental stores.
Shipping: Free, with minimum spending of S$60
Return/ Exchange policy: Free for incorrect/faulty orders within the first 7 days.
Besides stocking an unlimited range of products that may not even be available in Singapore, Amazon’s prices are half even some of the items found here. Pity there’s no more free shipping for orders from the US.
Shipping: You’re going to have to pay but check out our article about Amazon Prime Singapore.
Return/ Exchange policy: Not available for orders outside US.
All my health nut friends love this site for their cheap prices. Besides prices that go as low as 50% off, you get 35,0000 vitamins, supplements, and other health products to choose from.
Shipping: Free, with minimum spending of USD$60 (S$80.90)
Return/ Exchange policy: Only refunds available for damaged/incorrect orders.
Most Singaporeans are aware of the super low price point of Taobao. You can find anything there; Furniture, clothes, accesories, wedding gowns, stationery, you name it!
Shipping: Varying fees. Depending on seller and delivery agents.
Return/ Exchange policy: Varies, depending on individual sellers.
It’s a pity most of us don’t understand Chinese though. And those of us who’re too lazy to use Google Translate always resort to…
Singapore’s most popular taobao agent, EZbuy now offers an online ready-to-order platform that allows you to order stuff from Taobao, Korea and USA straight from their app. Just browse and add to cart, but I’ll explain later why I don’t feel Ezbuy’s a feasible option anymore.
Shipping: Varies depending on parcel weight and sellers’ policies.
Return/ Exchange policy: Free returns done by EZbuy agents for incorrect/faulty “Buy-for-me” orders.
A tip for online shopping on Taobao…
While reading a whole slew of Chinese words you can’t understand might be overwhelming, it’s better to utilize Google Translate to order your items directly if you’re purchasing from Taobao. All of my friends surveyed have agreed on the unreasonably long delivery times EZbuy takes in comparison to just ordering the your items directly from the site and choosing between their list of third-party parcel forwarders. As one of my friend complains about her delivery made before “Singles Day”…
“I paid a premium for EZbuy to do the purchasing of my items on Taobao, but yet, the items I’ve ordered directly from the site on Black Friday, has already arrived ahead of my EZbuy parcel. What is this? I don’t know what I’m paying extra for”.
So yes, know what you’re paying for….
What are your favourite online sites that no one knows about? Share them with us here!