I have gone “missing” from updating my blogs because lots have happened (as usual) since I returned to Singapore.
The more impending emergencies have been home improvements tasks! Given that we have lived in this apartment for nearly 20 years now, it’s not surprising that things are starting to wear out and requiring repairs and replacements. I have a working theory about “throwaway culture” in the current society; I have quite a handful of working theories and lacking time to conduct more thorough research and analysis. Before I digress to the moon, I’ll get back to the home repairs.
These are just some of the things I have done; I have done far far more, and many more to be done. I shop online 95% of the time, I am not even exaggerating, if anything, I might have underdeclared. When I lived in Perth, I would only order online during the whole of the scorching summer and only went out when absolutely necessary.
I posted most of the home improvements photos on my facebook album (public, choose “feed view”), so feel free to have a look. I do return to post updates on the reviews.
It is not easy to find all the things I need in Singapore. We really don’t repair much, we throw away and replace even when the items are still usable or barely worn out; even if there were shops that sell spare parts that I needed, it would be too inefficient to travel to various places to get different items. Price and quality comparison is also harder when you have to go back and forth to places. Online shopping makes it so much easier and savvy to do so. So, I take it to Taobao to hunt for most of my items, and the best part is that the sellers are usually very generous in providing tutorials and instructions to replace the items.
Taobao shopping can be a daunting task for many Singaporeans, even the Chinese Singaporeans as our first language is English and even if we had studied Chinese as a second language, not many of us are proficient in the language – out of practice.
I was out of practice, but I have always taken a keen interest in the Chinese culture and I did fairly well for Chinese in school, then. I am not ashamed to say that I refresh my Chinese language proficiency mainly from watching (too many) Chinese dramas! Having a Chinese housemate while living in Perth also helped.
So, while I cannot help you with reading Chinese characters on Taobao, I am happy to share my experiences with the different shippers I have used for my Taobao buys. I even keep an intensive spreadsheet to record my purchases and categorize purchases in deciding which shipper to use to maximize cost-effectiveness.
Broadly… (Conversion is estimated for CaiNiao, subject to exchange rate changes)
- CaiNiao (Taobao Official Shipper) air shipment (2-3 weeks) – First kg RMB29/SGD5.80; RMB10.50/SGD2.10/subsequent 0.5kg. Many restrictions such as no stainless steel, liquid/gel items, electronics or battery, sharp objects, etc. Also to observe the total dimension (details can be viewed on Taobao checkout when you are choosing which mode to ship). No GST under SGD400 equivalent purchases.
- CaiNiao (Taobao Official Shipper) sea shipment (3-5 weeks) – (Less than 30kg) First kg RMB26/SGD5.20; RMB9.40/SGD1.90/subsequent kg. Restrictions include liquid/gel, electronics, and battery, some sharp objects, etc. Also to observe total dimension. GST imposed regardless of the amount purchased.
- Peeka! (3rd party shipper) sea shipment (2-3 weeks) – Base price SGD6 + SGD1.30/0.5kg (price subject to change from time to time, but usually low fluctuation). GST imposed regardless of the amount purchased. Except for prohibited/illegal items that are set out by the Singapore Customs, Peeka is able to ship most of the sensitive products, such as battery packs, electronics, liquids/gels, foodstuffs, stationery like scissors that are sometimes rejected by CaiNiao, stainless steel and more.
CaiNiao will reject items if they regard them as dangerous or prohibited, even if they are not. My friend ordered staplers and got rejected. Some products on Taobao will not be made available to overseas shoppers if your shipping address is to your Singapore address via Taobao official shipper – to use CaiNiao, you just choose your Singapore address, and you will be given options to choose air/sea/direct via CaiNiao; tracking and consolidation are done on Taobao website. Whereas for all 3rd party shippers, you usually need to input a warehouse address assigned by your shipper, which is what opens up the option for you to buy those items (like pressure cooker, even the neck massagers – I don’t know why), and some electronics and electrical appliances, beauty products, and foodstuffs.
I have used several 3rd party shippers now, none of them until Peeka, have lived up to my expectations and instead, it can create a lot of anxiety of the unknown costs. Transparency of the workflow creates a sense of security and control, and Peeka has been really good at that, so I am sticking with them.
Use CaiNiao sea shipping if you don’t buy the restricted items, and I still ship with them when buying bulky items because they are cheaper than Peeka. They take longer though, and handling is not always fantastic, so I don’t recommend shipping fragile or precious items with them.
I split my orders, but if I got busy and didn’t have that many things to justify monitoring separately, I would just go with Peeka. Peeka informs you by email with each item received under your username.
Don’t feel intimidated by the extra steps to ship with Peeka, it’s really easy after the initial signup and when you get a hang of things. Here I shall show you the step by step guide.
(Corresponds with the gallery images)
1: Signup at Peeka website, or login if you already have an account.
2: For new signups, fill in your details and confirm sign up via email.
3: After signing in, click your username, choose from the dropdown menu “SHIP4U Parcels”.
4: (1) Your PRC address with your unique username (which is used to identify your parcels). (2) Once the seller has shipped your order, you can use “Add new package” to add your items so that Peeka can match your items when received.
5: To get the tracking, go to your Taobao account and under “Purchased items” “已买到的宝贝”, click on the hyperlink of “查看物流” (tracking).
6: Look for the courier company, in this case, “邮政快递包裹”, and the tracking number. You will need this information for Peeka page input.
7: Over at Peeka new package page, there is a dropdown menu listing commonly used courier companies, if you can’t find yours, just copy and paste into the box beside the dropdown menu – in this case, 邮政快递包裹 is not in the dropdown menu, so I input manually. Add the tracking number, declare the item accordingly (see the image for examples).
8: Once submitted, it will be listed on the “Pending Items” list.
9: When Peeka receives a package under your username, you will be notified by email, and you can login to check.
10: Under the “Received @ Shenzhen Warehouse” list, you will find the items that are received and waiting for your instruction to consolidate and ship (30 days free storage).
11: If you clicked on the “Details” of the item received, you will get to the page with a photo of your package.
12: Click on the image and you see the enlarged image, which you can verify any information.
13: When ready to ship, click the “select all” and then “ship selected” (see image on step 10), and choose the Singapore address you want Peeka to ship your order.
14: Once submitted for shipping, you get a quote of shipment, a clear breakdown of the charges. Here, I did the calculation by the side of each charge for clarity – I have a spreadsheet to do that.
15: You will also receive a final quote by email, but it’s exactly the same as the summary. With that payable amount, go to “our services”, dropdown menu, select “payment information”.
16: Payment methods are stated there, I use PayNow QR for easy payment. Once payment is made, you have to input (no image, I forgot to screenshot that) the payment at the order page.
17: Once payment is verified, it’s shown on the summary/comments of your order page. The delivery workflow will also start. My image shows completion, but that’s the workflow.
18: Their SOP is superbly good, so all records are always available every step of the way. The summary is updated promptly with the workflow. One of my previous orders took 20 days to arrive, but you can see that delivery has been prompt.
19: Another order took 12 days.
Parcels arrived in perfect condition, and I like that they would pack small items using their own box instead of a soft bag that often caused damage to my items. They are very meticulous in packing and labeling the boxes. This shipment had 9 packages and was clearly labeled for easy tracking of the missing package if any. I had really bad experiences with TB official shippers whereby some packages were missing and their CS was not very helpful; so I always had to photograph each package before unboxing in case of missing packages.
Peeka delivery teams are exceptional! I would receive a phone call before delivery, and the guys that delivered my orders were very courteous and helpful. They would take off their shoes and move the boxes in if they were heavy. 5 stars service!
I have not used their Buy4U conceirge service, so I can’t comment on that, but I suspect that it might be worth giving it a try if shopping directly on Taobao is too stressful.
Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post, but if you sign up a new account and completed order, I do get some referral points. I am already the VVIP, so if I do get some points, they are just bonuses.