Special Delivery

online-shopping-security-lead.ashx_

Singapore is one of the most popular shopping destinations in the world. Fact. But ask any expat where they get a good majority of their shopping from and it’ll probably be on-line. Obviously we’re not talking food shopping so much but clothes, shoes, household stuff, sports gear, gadgets etc.

Maybe it’s something from home we’re after (think fave footy teams new kit) or just to save some cash (as import taxes can really make a difference to prices), online shopping is big here. If any of the big US or European department stores are offering free delivery to Singapore it’s shared all over expat social media quicker than you can say BOGOF.

But, when you do order online and are hit with the delivery costs from say, the UK or States, it can make an everyday purchase suddenly seem a luxury.

Then what? Can you live without your favourite brand? Will you just make do with a not so perfect fit? Should you just bite the bullet and pay the extra $ it’ll cost you here? Can you persuade the kids to support a local team instead?

Woman shops online

Never fear. No one has to defect to the dark side, or spend more cash than necessary thanks to a new way of ordering that I have recently had the good fortune to try out.

PacMe is a company based in the US who are here to help. They can take delivery of your packages, unpack them, get rid of all the excess packaging (and we know how much that is don’t we?) and then forward them to you in Singapore all in one parcel.

Genius! One of those ideas that make you slap your forehead and wonder how you didn’t know about it before.

It can cut your delivery costs by A LOT – especially if you are clever and get all the free delivery options that most online sites offer to US. Whilst many items can be delivered here in Singapore, the delivery charges are often not worth it. For example, for ages I’d been after a spiraliser (I know, I’m so rock and roll) but the cost of delivery was more than the actual gadget itself. But, to get it delivered to US is free.

iStock_000031935720XSmallThe service is also ideal for all those awkward things you want to buy that never seem to ship to Singapore at all, like pool toys. Or those items that are just more readily available with more choice on-line when you have them delivered to the States.

With PacMe it seems that the more you order – and therefore the heavier your final parcel – the better value it gets. This isn’t the place to go if you are just ordering a small gift. This is where you head when you’re planning to buy a number of things – at Christmas for example.

So, when the lovely people at PacMe asked me to try out this new way of ordering I of course had to have a go.

Firstly you sign up for an account – which, would usually cost around US$40 – BUT NOT FOR YOU LUCKY LOT. See promotional code at the end of this blog for promo code to get free account!

Free-sign
You’re welcome!

 
So, you sign up for your FREE account and are then given your own ‘shipping address’ which is in Oregon, US (which is a tax-free state). You then order whatever you want/need/fancy – as much or as little as you like (although the more you order, the better the savings) – and enter your new Oregon address as the delivery address. Then it’s a matter of waiting for things to start arriving.

Once they do, PacMe will let you know what has arrived via email and you can check yourself through your account. They will even send pictures of your items so you can check what you’ve got. They unpack the items, remove excess labels, any unnecessary packaging and so on. You can choose if you want them to send the package on to you straight away, or hold on to it until you’ve got a few packages to send. Once you are ready to receive your parcel/s they will give you an estimated cost of delivery (rates are cheaper than usual delivery costs) and it wings its way to you.

It really is as simple as that.

When I tried it out I found the whole experience to be very straight forward. Any questions I had the customer service team answered very quickly via email. Even going back and re-taking a picture when I wasn’t sure the right thing had been sent. I happened to be away for a week after all my goods had arrived at my US delivery address, which was no problem, they simply kept hold of them for me. When I got back I let them know I was ready for them to send it.

When my package arrived to me I was really happy with the way things had been packaged – it always frustrates me when I get packages that are full of excess paper, plastic and materials that are not really protecting them.

My parcel was packed up just the way my mum would do it. squashing things that can’t break (t-shirts) in to protect things that are a bit more delicate (the spiraliser) and keeping things in place with heavier items (books).

When I looked at the cost of how much it would have cost me to have them all shipped here I saved myself a small fortune.

Santa Carrying Shopping Bags --- Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbis

All in all I’d say this was the ideal answer to something like shopping for Christmas gifts. You can go online, do all your ordering over a few days, have it sent to Oregon and then get it all delivered in one parcel to you here. As I’ve mentioned already – the PacMe guys will hold on to your packages for up to 90 days, so there’s no rush to place the whole order all in one go.

They even let you know how much space, weight has been saved. In my case I ordered 7 separate things from Amazon which in total weighed 10kg. When I received the order – in one box with no excess packaging at all – the final billable weight was just 4kg! Now it doesn’t take a genius to work out that more than half the weight equals more than half the delivery costs. Well worth it.

T9494-P0001-CON-1The company is also very clear about the fact that this isn’t the thing to use if you’re just ordering a couple of things. For instance, a 2.3kg package going to Singapore costs about $55 for the 3-5 day service (which is outrageous for a single pair of shoes or a few shirts!), whereas a 23kg package costs a little less than $160. So again, better for a big spree you’re planning.

 
Give it a go, if you’re a smart shopper and order from websites that offer free delivery to the states you could save yourself a tidy sum. Especially as the lovely PacMe people have offered all Five Go Mad In readers a free account. Simply log on to www.pacme.com sign up and enter the promo code:

‘5gomadin’

Happy Shopping!

Advertisements

Shop till you drop

Mention Singapore to most people and they’ll mention shopping. It’s a well-known fact that Singapore is ‘the’ place to shop. Despite coming here for the past eight years or so, it wasn’t until we moved here that I really got what people were talking about.

Shopping Malls. Let me stop right there.

The word ‘mall’ – it just doesn’t fit in – or come out of – my mouth well at all. See, I can say ‘all’. But, put an M in front and I’m flummoxed.

At first, when referring to these large shopping places I would feel like a complete fake saying mall. Like I was play-acting one of those annoying teenage american shows my daughter is so fond of. I thought the rest of the family were sniggering at me for being so pretentious. But no, we’re all at it. It seems mall is the common word for those large shopping places. So I’m having to use the word a lot.

When I say mall my mouth stretches in a really strange way and my throat constricts around the vowel. My Son pointed out that it was just ball with an m in front. Nah, still can’t do it. Even now, I rush over the word or try to avoid it completely.

photo-1

Maaawlller?

Anyho, I digress.

Shopping Malls. There are literally dozens of them, they’re everywhere. In fact, I bet there’s a hundred at least. Hold on a minute…

Ok, according to Wikipedia there are 95 shopping malls in Singapore!!

Bearing in mind the island is only 26miles east to west and 14 miles north to south (cheers Wiki). That’s a lot of malls in not a lot of area.

Singapore_Top 10_shopping

Vivo is a sprawling place for malling

Just the other day I met a friend – yay! I have a friend – in Bishan. I’ve been to Bishan many times (see my review on Bishan Park) and never noticed a ruddy great big mall in the centre. To be honest, I’d never been to the centre but thought I had. What’s strange about these malls is they have EVERYTHING in them. Or at least a lot of different things.

  • Dim sum? Check
  • Clothes shops? Check
  • Book shop or stationers? Check
  • Salon? Check
  • Supermarket? Check
  • Food court? Check
  • Homewares? Check
  • Toyshop? Check

All the usual stores you’d expect to see in a bog standard shopping centre, sorry, I mean mallBut not always the ‘usual’ types of store.

So, the home store might have a coffee table, some candles and a bunch of religious books for example. Or, the clothes shop might have a selection of (awful 70’s) birthday cards next to rails of teeny tiny clothes (not aimed at us Europeans). Nonetheless, if you know where to go, you can pretty much find what you need – in the strangest places.

I’ve noticed that there’s often a ‘theme’ to each mall to. Or maybe more of a target audience. So far, I’ve been to the British mall (Tanglin) The French/Italian (Cluny), Korean (Novena), Chinese (Novena, the other part), Modern Singaporean (Star City), Traditional Singaporean (Bishan, Upper Thomson) Designer (ION), High Street (Vivo City), Sports (Velo City), Cheaper end (Lucky Plaza), Blow your mind cos it’s so big (Takeshimya and many, many others).

Handy to know before you visit them what to expect though right? I no longer walk in to Novena expecting to find the latest DVD release in english. See I’m almost a local nowadays.

By the way – this is just my view on what the malls are
aiming at, not the official line. Feel free to visit and make
your own mind up.

I know, it sounds like I spend my whole time shopping doesn’t it? I really don’t. But, as is I’ve said, it can take a whole day to do one thing here. That one thing is usually purchase an item you actually need. For example a gift. You know what you want, you’ve done your research, you head to the mall. Six hours later you emerge – admittedly with said gift, but also with a few extra bits you never knew you needed. In my case I’ve also lost something – the will to live.

I cannot bear it. One day I will offload the Organic Veg Box Day (OVBD*) story once and for all. But for now, let me just say some of these places are TOO DAMM BIG!

quero-parar-de-usar-drogas-e-nao-consigo

Turn left for Starbucks?

They are like mazes. You go up one floor take a left turn and there’s a whole other floor (usually referred to as 2b, 3b etc). You potter along that floor and that will lead to another offshoot. Before you know it you’re lost. Oh God, now I’m getting flash backs of OVBD. I won’t even try to explain the car parks. Just think helter skelter and you’ll get the picture.

Suffice to say these often innocuous looking malls open their mouths and gobble you up. If you’re lucky they’ll spit you out before it’s too late. A word of advice if you’re visiting – or are new to Singapore – don’t plan on doing anything else if you decide to ‘pop to the shops’ one day. It ain’t gonna happen. You’ll be there for the day. Even if you don’t want to be. Especially if you head to any of the malls on Orchard.

800px-Orchard_Road_street_sign_-_Singapore_(gabbe)

Sign should read: shoppers paradise

Orchard is to Singapore what Oxford Street/Regent Street and any other shopping streets all put together, are to London. It’s where all the tourists head. It sometimes feels like the whole of Singapore heads there too. If you’re crossing the road at Orchard and you see the green man flashing down below five seconds (all crossings here count you down, gives me the complete willys), run for your life. If you don’t, you’ll be waiting about half an hour before that little green man lets you and the other fifty thousand people cross again. Obviously I’m exaggerating, but you get my gist?

ion-orchard-1-482x298

Like a lion in Zion?

But, if you want to experience some of the shopping Singapore is famous for then Orchard is worth a visit. You could go and press your nose against the windows of Prada, Gucci et al (actually don’t do that, you’ll get told off), have a lovely afternoon cuppa in TWG and have your photo taken with the statues outside at ION, the kind of central point on Orchard – and the mall most people know of. There’s even an observation deck (called IONSky) on the 56th floor – which I have yet to visit – that is free to visit. Gives amazing 360 degree views of the city apparently. Then have a wander down, up or around the rest of Orchard. You’ll find something you like no doubt.

If you go at night there’s a different atmosphere. Lots of lights too. It can look quite pretty, in a harsh, flashy kind of way. And at the moment, one Saturday night a month it’s a no car zone – so worth going then maybe?

IF

Photo op outside ION

City.Square.Mall_

Kids are well catered for

If you’ve got kids don’t worry, they’ve thought of that. Many malls have a splash centre, playground, play centres, ride on cars/animals to hire.

I hear there’s a river running through one at Marina Bay?

At the weekend many of the malls have some kind of event going on. Whether it’s a visit from the cast of the current top soap opera, or a challenge from a major airline to win flights. There’s also a kind of market stall area on the ground floor usually too. The last time I went to my local mall, the ‘market’ was selling bars of chocolate, knickers, duvet sets and hair bands!

It seems the locals love to spend their weekends wandering (s l o w l y) around the mall. Apparently there’s a term for it; ‘Malling’ – Ha! I won’t even attempt to say that – I believe it’s partly because it’s so bloody hot outside and the malls are well air-conditioned. Who knows?

Singapore-offer-great-sales-300x225

A few shoppers may join you

There are loads more malls to visit I know. But, for now, I’ll stick to the ones I know I can go in to and more importantly get out of easily. But, please, let me know what your favourite is, who you think it’s aimed at and what’s the most unusual thing you’ve found there.

Happy Shopping.

* It seems I have to use acronym much more since moving to Singapore. My apologies.