Why shop on Amazon in Singapore?

Intro

Source: amazon.com

Source: amazon.com

In Singapore, when it comes to electronic shopping (especially PC component), the first place that will come to mind for shoppers would be Simlim Square. Besides that, electronic gadgets can also be purchased at other retailers such as Challenger or online through Lazada.com. These local options are very convenient due to the accessibility and availability of electronic products. So why did I recommend Amazon in the first BAS system guide?

The most obvious benefit from buying anything from Amazon is much lower cost. However, there are lot of things that need to be considered before making the purchase decision. This post will try to give you some ideas why you should start doing so, and I will have another follow up post that will detail how you can do it to maximize your saving.


Pros

LOWER PRICING

When browsing through Amazon selection of goods, I keep asking myself: 'Why are these things so cheap?!' Can you believe that a Crucial MX300 made in Singapore, sold in Amazon US, which then get free shipping back to Singapore, is still cheaper than another MX300 being sold in Simlim? 

The following table gives a very basic comparison on the differences of buying electronic in Simlim compared to US.

Item Singapore cost / SGD Amazon cost converted to SGD Percent differences
Asus H170i-Plus* 218 152 30%
Intel Core i3-6100 172 166 6%
Asus H170i-Plus & Intel Core i3-6100 Combo* 365 318 13%
8GB Corsair LPX 2400MHz DDR4 82 57 30%
Gigabyte GTX950 OC 2GB 245 200 18%
Crucial MX300 275GB 115 100 13%

* indicates that certain items are not qualified for free shipping, or it cannot be shipped to Singapore.

The table above listed out some common computer component that you may purchase from Amazon. The best thing is that most of these can be shipped to Singapore for free (so the price you see in the table is what you have to pay)!

Furthermore, besides electronic, there are many other items that you can buy on Amazon for cheaper price as well. For example:

Item Singapore cost / SGD Amazon cost converted to SGD Percent differences
Books – Lullabies by Lang Leav, Paperback
24.5 to 27.3
16.2
34%
Shampoo – OGX Argan Oil of Morocco 385ml
16.9 to 19.2
9.7
43%
Road bike accessory – Fizik Performance Bar Tape
35+
31.4
10+%
Watercolors – Sakura 24 with Brush
62.7
28.6
54%

As it’s obvious, Amazon prices are generally >>10% cheaper than local price. Some items are as cheap as during Singapore’s sale events.

Since some of the items cannot be shipped directly to Singapore, we may have to use third party shipping service to help us ship the items back. On many occasion, even with the cost of third party shipping, the total amount spent is still less than that of buying the item directly in Singapore. We will discuss about third party shipping in the following up post. 


AVAILABILITY OF ITEMS

Since Amazon.com is selling mostly to the US market, you will be able to find popular items that is not readily available in Singapore.

For example, you can find Kindle tablet on Lazada and Qoo10 being sold from resellers (120+ SGD), but you can do the same on Amazon and get it from Amazon itself (Kindle is designed by Amazon) for lower price during sale, even with third party shipping cost (total 100+ SGD/Kindle). Many other PC components such as certain brand/model of RAM, SSD and CPU heatsinks are also only available on Amazon and not in Singapore.

Furthermore, if you ware willing to pay for third party shipping, you will have a lot more option available.


FLASH DISCOUNT AND US-BASED PROMOTION

Have you ever heard about the crazy Black Friday sale where Americans rush to their local store to snatch up deeply discount goods. How about Cyber Monday and Christmas sale where you can find electronic and other items at much lower price as well?

Generally, these sale season are not applicable in Singapore. Even though Singapore may have her own sale season such as The Great Singapore Sale or 11.11 sale, the discounted prices during US sale seasons are quite significant compared to that in Singapore. For example, I was able to get this Logitech G303 gaming mouse for 36SGD brand-new during Black Friday 2015 while the retail price in US itself averaging at 60SGD, and the price in Singapore is 59SGD (for older version G302). 

To add on, the quality of items on sale on Amazon can be considered as no difference compared to brand new items. In other words, sale items are not refurbished, returned or defective items unlike in Singapore where you may find used items sold during sale disguise as brand new.


Cons

SHIPPING MAY NOT BE FREE

Source: techspot.com

Source: techspot.com

Shipping comes with a cost, a huge cost in fact. That's why it came to me as a surprise that certain items can be bought and shipped from the US to Singapore for free. However, free shipping is not applicable for all products, there are certain restriction and limits that are in place. So far, followings are what I know about shipping on Amazon:

Eligible for free shipping:

  • Many common electronics products.
  • Only product sold directly by Amazon.com.

Not eligible for free shipping:

  • Items that have boxes dimensions that exceed 50cm may not be shipped for free.
  • Not all product sold by Amazon can be shipped for free (due to size and weight and other constraints).
  • Many cosmetic products.
  • Any product from third party sellers.

What listed above is from personal experience shopping on Amazon. There will be exceptions and we will discuss more about it in the follow up post.


NOT ALL ITEMS CAN BE SHIPPED TO SINGAPORE

Beside items that cannot be shipped for free, there are items that straight our cannot be shipped to Singapore directly from Amazon, those are:

  • Items with internal Li-Ion battery. However you can use third party shipping service to ship these items back to Singapore.
  • Flammable items such as spray paint, instant shampoo or aerosol products etc. cannot be shipped AT ALL. Trust me you don't want to order any of these, even third party shipping service will refuse to ship these products.
  • Prime exclusive items are not available for normal shoppers to purchase. You either have to choose other options, or wait till the prime exclusivity is over.

WARRANTY OR RETURN

Warranty may be another issue since it will be extremely tedious, troublesome and costly to return any defective product. Amazon warranty policy state that "Items shipped from Amazon.com, including Warehouse Deals, can be returned within 30 days of receipt of shipment in most cases. Some products have different policies or requirements associated with them". Beyond the 30 days, you will have to return the items directly to the manufacturer of the items in the US.

As a result, I prefer to purchase items that are more durable and should encounter less issues during the items' life time. For example, based on personal experience building computer, motherboard can be considered as having higher chance of having issues. However, with 4 years of shopping on Amazon, I have not encountered the need to return any item back to the US. It may serve as an evidence of the quality of the products sold.

With that said, there was one occasions whereby I had to contact a third party seller on Amazon regarding unsatisfactory result using a product. I was then able to get back 15% the cost of the product and still able to keep product itself.


DELIVERY

For free shipping, you will need to wait at least 1 weeks to at most 2.5 weeks from the date of order to be able to receive your items. Since the delivery time is not certain, it may become a problem if you have tight planning or if you need to travel.

Not only that, depending on which courier handle the delivery in Singapore, your items may be subjected to 'abuses'. There was a time when a headphones I bought arrived in soaked condition. Since it was during rainy season, I believe the courier (in this case Aramex) was not taking care of the package during shipping and it got wet. Fortunately, when I raised this issue to Amazon and shown them the photos of the package when it arrived, Amazon fully refunded the cost of the headphones. So far, Singpost and DHL have been very reliable. 


Conclusion

In the end, the ultimate goal is still to buy what you need/want at the lowest cost, while maintaining the quality of the product and that's where I believe Amazon is an excellent option for shopper. When looking at the disadvantages of shopping on Amazon, there are ways to mitigate these aspects