E-commerce has rapidly gained mass adoption in the last couple of years. Now the world is your oyster, allowing us to communicate with sellers globally and shop for the latest kicks with just a few clicks. However, when it comes to big-ticket or bulky items such as a new flat screen TV or a massage chair, is it really a fuss-free process? What about shipping and after sales? How do one contend with some of the bug-bears when faced with such a situation? Here, we shall weigh the pros and cons of buying your massage chair from a local seller vs an overseas supplier.
Purchasing from a trusted local brand can be a better investment than a lower priced item shipped from an overseas seller. A local brand is able to source and manufacture goods that are better tailored to local or cultural preferences. Being able to physically try or view the product is definitely a big plus point. Products such as massage chairs are highly subject to user experience. One that feels comfortable to an individual may not suit another. The same goes with fashion items or even shoes. Therefore, we often recommend customers to try our products first before deciding on a purchase. This is an important consideration one has to forgo for online purchases, especially for products shipped from overseas.
Most online marketplaces address this issue by providing a platform for buyers to post reviews. However, it is still hard to make an accurate judgment based on the opinions of others. Some of these reviews may be fake or manipulated by the sellers. Imagine the disappointment one will face when purchases fail to match up to his/her expectation.
After Sales Service
Some overseas sellers do provide their buyers a warranty for their goods. What’s more, some e-commerce platforms even offer a return policy for purchases. These might seem like a good deal until you file for a claim and realise that the process is not so straightforward.
For one, warranty coverage is not so much of value when the postage cost is prohibitively expensive. For small items, perhaps getting the seller to send over a zipper replacement or even the entire product might be cost effective. However, for a large sized item, shipping might cost more than the purchase price itself. For example, a shipping agent would quote a shipping fee of more than S$1000 for an average-sized massage chair back to China.
Most electrical goods do not require routine servicing if you maintain them well, but there is no guarantee that they will never turn faulty. When that happens, claiming for a warranty can be as simple as calling to book an on-site service appointment or sending the defective goods to the local service centre. Purchasing from a trusted local brand might cost more but assures a more straightforward warranty claim process, saving you time and money and a lot less frustration; definitely a stark contrast from an overseas purchase! Think of the additional cost as a form of product insurance.
Spare parts availability
Replacement parts vary across different brands and models, especially for appliances and electronic goods. Many parts are incompatible across brands and models. An overseas seller may offer local after sales service. However, the difficulty lies in spare parts availability if the seller is based overseas. Shipping time for spare parts may be prohibitively long. Worse, the replacement parts they sent may be incompatible with the item being serviced and your product may be damaged further.
Overseas sellers usually operate via a low cost setup. Often, such sellers engage the help of third-party technicians or repairmen to provide after sales service in Singapore. These personnel may not be well trained or equipped with the necessary skills that a dedicated technician from a reputable brand possesses. Scheduling an appointment may prove difficult as these technicians have their other side-hustles as well.
Purchasing from a local brand or authorised retailer grants the customer access to help when needed and peace of mind. Many brands also provide a guarantee on their repairs. Having a dedicated team of technicians and support staff ensures your product to be in safe and serviceable condition even after repairs.
Sales and Support
Communication, communication and communication!
Ever experienced the frustration of not being able to contact your overseas seller for assistance and after some time, get a piecemeal response, and thereafter, no response at all? For those that have not done their due diligence to flesh out reputable overseas sellers, the wait can be real…and long!
The seller you’ve been chatting with, probably might not possess the technical knowledge to advise you (that is, if you are lucky enough to even get hold of them). Even if they do possess the technical know-how, the language barrier may prove insurmountable for many of us in Singapore.
For locally purchased goods, such problems can be minimised. By having English speaking staff will make most communication plain sailing. Many of the sales and support staff may also speak your local dialects, as well as a 2nd language if the need arises. Besides, buying locally means you can dial the local support line without racking up sky-high phone bills – that is far more efficient than sending messages to overseas sellers and waiting for their response!
Buying from a local brand ensures a much faster delivery vs an item shipped from overseas. In many cases, same-day deliveries are a reality as well.
When purchasing from an overseas seller, one does not have certainty over the mode of delivery or the time frame for delivery especially when shipping and customs checks are involved. Depending on the port of origin from China, parcels can take from 4 to 31 days in transit before reaching Singapore. Shipping delay is a common issue especially during peak seasons such as Christmas or Chinese New Year. If you are buying gifts for friends and family, you will likely be better off buying locally and save yourself the embarrassment of having your recipient get the goods after the celebrations!
Furthermore, the seller you are purchasing from may simply just be a drop-shipper whose goods are shipped from another party or seller. Customers are none the wiser when purchasing from these sellers.
Value for Money
Supporting our local brands certainly has a virtuous effect. Consumers can choose to exercise social responsibility by buying local and supporting our local entrepreneurs who in turn provide employment and tangible benefits to the economy and society.
A trusted brand is in for the long haul and much value can be reaped because of the quality and reliability of the products it offers.
Products supplied by overseas based sellers may not meet the same quality standards and can pose a hazard to buyers. In fact, one study shows that 66% of electrical goods bought from online marketplaces such as AliExpress, eBay and Wish have failed their product safety tests.
Buying local may not be as cheap compared to buying from an overseas seller or platform. However, do consider the intangible aspects of a purchase to avoid being penny wise but pound foolish. A spoilt item is junk if after-sales service is hard to come by or unavailable.
Money saved cannot buy time spent unnecessarily. Weigh the pros and cons before buying from an overseas seller. Very often, what you pay for is what you get. It is only a steal when you can use a product to its full value without having to face unintended consequences.
Do consider the after-sales service such as warranty, technical support and the availability of spare parts before you make your purchase. Many of these aspects are often neglected by buyers before they hit the check-out button when buying from an overseas seller.
Perhaps, financial constraints might be the main reason that is stopping you from buying locally. You will be glad to know that not every local branded product has an exorbitant price tag. Check out what makes Miuvo products so affordable as compared to the other local brands here!