Shopping

Here's how to become a top online shopper

The Internet is revolutionising the way we shop. According to eMarketer, worldwide retail e-commerce sales nearly reached US$2 trillion (S$2.8 trillion) last year and is expected to see double-digit growth over the next few years.

However, shopping online is not an easy feat. Here is a guide on how to become an ace at online shopping.

FIND WHAT YOU WANT

Search for your wanted item. Google provides many links, but it may not provide the cheapest options, since vendors pay advertising fees to be at the top of the search page.

A better way would be to search on large e-commerce websites such as Taobao, which has over seven million vendors and 800 million products - many of them at prices cheaper than what you can find locally.

Local sites such as Lazada or Qoo10 are great if you need your items delivered urgently, though they may cost extra.

GET THE BEST DEAL

Use a price checker, coupon codes and referral codes to get the best deal. Knowing the right time to buy is also important.

Camelcamelcamel is one good website to track prices on Amazon. It shows historical price charts for the items and tells you if you are getting them at a good deal.

RateX Chrome extension is another useful tool that automatically finds the best coupon code available online for the site you are buying from at no cost.

These coupon codes are updated in real time and work in the same way as Grab or Uber's discount codes.

Look out for Amazon's Gold Box Deals, which are items at near-perfect conditions, sold at huge discounts that expire typically after a few hours.

USE CASHBACK, CREDIT CARDS AND NO-FEE SOLUTIONS

Paying on local sites such as Lazada or Zalora is easy - you simply input your bank card details and they will charge you local currency with no additional fees.

However, if you are using your credit card, check who pays the processing fee, as some merchants pass this on to you.

Sites such as ShopBack maximise savings as they provide cashback with every purchase. Some credit cards also provide cashback, such as the UOB Visa Signature that has a 5 per cent cash rebate for purchases over $1,000 in foreign currency.

HOW TO GET FREE SHIPPING

Most websites offer free delivery above a certain purchase amount, so consolidate your purchases or team up with friends to get better deals. Amazon provides free global shipping to Singapore for purchases above US$125. Taobao is more complicated as you must choose between international parcel forwarders (most notably 4PX) and delivery agents.

PRODUCT RETURNS

If you receive a faulty product, contact the customer service team as soon as possible, either via a phone call or messaging system.

If you have made a local purchase, you simply reprint the return label and send the product back in the same condition it was when it arrived.

Returning a faulty product from overseas can be more challenging. Some online sites have good protection plans for buyers and it is advisable to buy from such sites. For example, Amazon has easy return policies, a good customer service team and an option to add on a three-year warranty.

This article is written by Jake Goh, CEO and co-founder of RateX, a cross-border online payment solution.

Online ShoppingOPINIONshopping