Everybody knows about Taobao and how cheap products can be over there. In fact, the trend of people buying stuff from Taobao has gotten to the point where other online stores have to push for higher discounts just to be competitive enough.
At least I think that’s the reason why most local online stores have so many sales (yay, thank you Taobao!).
In any case, Taobao still has the largest collection of ridiculously cheap goods, so much so that multiple online shopping agents have popped up recently.
The good thing about the added convenience with these agents is that more difficult items have become viable choices for purchase, such as incredibly bulky stuff like furniture. Yes, you heard me right, I said (wrote) furniture. When previously it is pretty much impossible to ship huge crates of furniture from China without spending a fortune, now agents could handle all that for crazily affordable prices.
Sure, you could always just buy furniture from IKEA or some other furniture merchant here, but are you going to find extremely affordable ones? Is the range of products available wide enough?
With agents, more people are designing their new homes and buying the furniture from Taobao, so we’re here to explain the A to Z of buying furniture from Taobao because you love to tao.
1. Choose an Agent
First of all, you’re gonna have to pick an agent, because we’re talking about sending big stuff over from China. Agents aren’t exactly forwarders; they do more than shipping your furniture from China to Singapore, as they take care of every single aspect. All you need to do is to pick one out of the many.
Here’s an example for you young millennials who need to watch instead of read:
(Collection is no longer available in Japan Home, but you can pick up your parcels in lockers all over Singapore via bluPort lockers, so you can collect even at 3:00 a.m.!)
And here’s Captain Obvious stating the obvious: furniture can get quite expensive, and shipping would vary greatly based on weight and volume, so this is quite important.
Therefore, before anything, take note of any guarantees, any requirements, and any exceptions. You could compare prices as well since different agents would have different methods of shipping and packing which would result in different international shipping costs.
Here comes the easy and fun part. Look through the frankly quite daunting selection of stuff on Taobao (in this case, since we’ve been talking about furniture, that would refer to beds, or cupboards or such).
And now we encounter our first problem.
It is, unfortunately, possible to get scammed on Taobao, where you pay a suspiciously low price for a product, only to realise you’ve received something else entirely, like a brick instead of a phone. How to protect yourself, without extensive experience in online shopping on Taobao, or an advanced grasp of Chinese online lingo?
Here’s the first reason why using an agent is imperative. Not only do they help to ensure that you receive your orders, they also ensure that when you order a sofa, you receive a sofa instead of a soft toy. #justsaying
SGshop, an agent, has this service called Smartshop, which is the result of a collaboration with Taobao and JD.com. When you purchase through Smartshop, all international shipping costs are pre-calculated for you (so you just have to pay exactly what is shown), and there’s even a no-risk guarantee – meaning you’re 101% going to receive what you’ve ordered.
These items are already pre-selected by SGshop based on the rating, quantity and reputation of the Taobao seller, so they’re essentially doing the homework for you, because #decisionfatigue.
However, note that you have to search for stuff through SGshop’s own site instead of Taobao for this.
Keep a lookout for the blue ribbon with an S on it, for products guaranteed under Smartshop. Conveniently, SGshop has a special link to furniture under Smartshop here.
3. Shopping Cart
After you’ve selected your desired item, simply place the link within your chosen agent’s website. Do note that different agents have different systems.
Or, if you’ve been selecting through the agent’s website (e,g, SGshop), simply head straight to payment. You’ll be paying twice, actually, with the first payment to the actual shop, and second to your Agent. International shipping fees, service charges, local delivery and clearance fees are under the second payment.
But if you’re shopping via SGshop’s Smartshop, you just pay once, because everything is transparent: you pay for what you want. Period.
If I were you, I’ll go for the latter. Simple and fast, machiam online shopping in a local website!
4. Shipping and Delivery
There are multiple shipping options available, ranging from air express to sea economy. The difference here is speed and price, with the fastest (air express) being the most expensive. For furniture, of course, we’re looking at cheaper shipping, since the weight would drive air express charges sky high. This means it’ll have to be delivered by sea.
Many agents also offer repacking services, such as SGshop, which claims that shipping fees could be cut by up to 50% just from their repacking, as international shipping fees are also calculated from the volumetric weight.
(Basically, occupy less space means cheaper shipping. Quite important for really bulky items like furniture!)
SGshop also offers a speed guarantee on their Buy For Me service (which includes the SmartShop service), and if your product arrives later than the stipulated arrival, you’ll get further discounts depending on how much later. This discount can go up to 50%!
In other words, you’re essentially furnishing your house online. Like literally.
To recap, here’s what you should do: pick an agent (a good one), shop for your furniture, make payment and wait for them to come. Yeah, it doesn’t sound like a guide, simply because everything has become so much easier if you’ve picked the right agent.
If your BTO is ready and all you’re short of are furniture, here’s the good news: SGshop is having a Home & Decor Sale now, whereby there’s either a 10% off (order via website) or 20% off (order via app) on shipping fees. And with their guaranteed delivery time, you do not need to worry if the furniture will arrive on time: they either come earlier than you expect or come on time.
Not bad, if you’ve a schedule to meet.
Now, don’t say I bojio: click and shop away. You’re welcome.
(P.S. We’re not responsible if your bae sees other non-furniture stuff that’re so affordable, he or she just max out your credit card #justsaying).