For the longest time, Daiso was my favourite retailer in Singapore. I mean, you can’t argue with $2 everything.
But guess what—apparently, you can go lower than $2. Online retailer ShopInSEA is, it appears, Daiso’s strongest rival right now. The site has some of the cheapest deals in town, including an entire section dedicated to products under $2. Can this site divert traffic away from Daiso’s hallowed aisles? Let’s find out.
ShopinSEA has clearly used Daiso as its model in designing their product range. The home and décor section is wildly reminiscent of Daiso’s biggest kitchen and living section. Other sections include fashion, lifestyle, health and beauty, gifts and stationery, and kids’ stuff.
Here’s a sampling of some products.
- Lunch box with utensil set for $6.70 – In the same vein as Daiso’s famous lunchboxes and bentos. While a bento costs only $2 at Daiso, you usually have to buy utensils separately, meaning the total cost might add up to about the same amount.
- Shoe bag for $4.70 – Daiso sells similar bags for $2.
- Cute bear laundry net for $1.80 – Daiso has a large range of laundry nets, but they cost $0.20 more and are less cute.
- Alarm clock for $8.50 – Has more functions than Daiso’s basic alarm clock version, but is more than 4 times the price.
- 15 inch laptop bag for $4.30 – I’ll leave you to be the judge as to whether this or Daiso’s version looks better.
- Hipsterish luggage tag for $1.50 – Definitely more hipsterish than Daiso’s.
- Eyelash curler for $0.90 – Daiso has the exact same thing for $2.
- Chinese wedding ornaments for $5.60 – Okay, pretty sure I haven’t seen these at Daiso.
A quick look at each of these sections and one thing is clear—not everything costs $2, or even close. While there are some items that are cheaper than Daiso’s equivalents (80 cent adhesive hooks, $1.60 soap boxes), others are more expensive ($3.20 bedroom slippers, $5 laundry basket).
To make things easier for you, they even have an “Under $2” section. If you’re a die-hard Daiso shopper who refuses to buy anything above $2, this section is for you.
The vast majority of items, however, cost more than $2. And object-to-object comparison is difficult. Some items are more elaborate or of higher quality than Daiso’s equivalents, and therefore you get more value by paying a few bucks more.
Of course, Daiso and ShopInSEA’s ranges don’t overlap 100%. There are some items you can buy at Daiso but not at ShopinSEA, and vice versa.
For example, these 9 bizarre items available at Daiso are so crazy we’re pretty sure the folks at ShopInSEA didn’t think of bringing them in. Then there are other random items like badminton rackets, and toe socks you can find only at Daiso.
While Daiso’s range is infinitely bigger, ShopInSEA does have some unique items. I’m pretty sure I haven’t seen wall-mounted sound and motion-sensitive nightlights at Daiso (it costs $8 at ShopinSEA, by the way).
So where you should buy your random products?
In terms of price, how much you save (or don’t save) by shopping on ShopInSEA instead of at Daiso really depends on what items you’re purchasing. Bigger ticket items tend to be more expensive on ShopInSEA, while smaller items get cheaper since unlike Daiso they can price them below $2.
But the real deciding factor comes in the form of their shipping policy. Right now, free shipping on ShopInSEA is offered on orders over $50. Which would be well and good if this was a fashion retailer. But when it comes to buying small, inexpensive sundry items, $50 is a lot.
If your main purpose of shopping on ShopInSEA is to save money and you’re purchasing items exclusively from the Under $2 section, we hope you like buying 27 toilet brushes or 50 alligator food tongs (cute though) just to qualify for free shipping. If you are mixing it up with other items that are outside of that section, then that’s fine.
Otherwise, you pay $4.99 for shipping. That doesn’t sound like a lot in the grand scheme of things, but when you consider that amounts to 2.5 free items at Daiso, you might think twice.
Have you tried buying stuff on ShopInSEA? Share your reviews in the comments!
This article is part of a new MoneySmart Review series featuring different local brands that aim in one way or another to help Singaporeans optimise the use of their money. And no, it’s not paid for.