We recently came across this article in the Straits Times “Homeowners get more style for less on Taobao”, and were fascinated by this whole new phenomenon of Singaporeans buying big item furniture pieces from Taobao.

No longer were the purchases confined to the usual small items like clothing, soft toys and little knick knacks from Taobao, but Singaporeans were now buying big ticket items like sofas, dining tables, armchairs and others.

So is it worth all the hassle to buy from Taobao?

How much cheaper is it exactly to buy furniture from Taobao, once you’ve factored in the shipping costs? We’ve set out to find the answers.

Here are our price comparisons based on basic or similiar designs of furniture pieces:

Note: Our Taobao shipping rates is estimated based on a range of Parcel forwarding agents (read our price comparison of agents here>>), with their rates being calculated based on either Cubicmetre or actual weight. 

  1. 6-seater Dining Table Set.

Online store Product name/photoPrice
Bjursta / Borje Table + 6 chairs


$609
Self collect or $60 for weekday delivery + $30 assembly fee (optional)
Dining Table Set DNT1099W

$495
Free delivery & free installation.
7 pcs Dining set

$399
Free delivery & free installation.
UTAH #IP082755 7 piece dining set
$1599
$9.90 fee waived for orders above $200
全實木餐桌
$389 + $121* = $560
Free Domestic shipping + parcel forwarding agent fees *$121- $216

As you can see, if you’re going for the cheapest option, Taobao may not necessarily be the cheapest option available. You can get comparable deals from local online shopping sites such as Furniture Mart.sg.

Local sites also deliver for free and provide free installation of the dining set. If you want to save yourself the trouble of assembling the table yourself, and would like for quicker delivery, you may as well go for the local options.

However, the price savings are significant, if you’re going for “designer” furniture or rare, unique furniture such as the one below:

Online storeProduct name/photoPrice
City Extendable Dining Set
$1499
$15 fee waived for orders above $200
美式鄉村複古餐桌實木餐桌椅組合
$760 + $121* = $ 881
Free domestic shipping + parcel forwarding agent fees *$121 - $207.

For such a unique piece of furniture, Nook and Cranny in Singapore is retailing at $1499 and is also a preordered item which you would have to wait a few weeks for. With price savings of more than $600 for a different but similar style furniture, Taobao can give the customer very good savings.

2. Fabric seater 3-seater plus ottoman/chaise lounge

Online storeProduct name/photoPrice
BACKABRO, Cover sofa-bed with chaise longue

$349.00
$60 for weekday delivery + $30 assembly fee (optional)
L-Shaped Sofa Fabric FSF1003
$374.00
*Free delivery & free installation.
FM-SOFA027IS - 3 Seater + Chaise
$397
*Free delivery & free installation
Mongo 4D Effect Corner Sofa
$445.00
*Free delivery & free installation above $200.
STYLEMASTER FUNDY #IP093323
$1,299.00
*$9.90 fee waived for orders above $200
布藝沙發
$330 + $255 = $585
*Free domestic shipping + parcel forwarding agent rates $255 - $630

Once again, as you can see, if you’re looking for the cheapest available option out there, there are cheaper options with free delivery and installation at Furniture.sg or Furnituremart.sg.

However, Taobao provides more variety of styles than any website or retail store in Singapore. Hence if you’re looking for unique options, you may find affordable or comparable prices for your unique style on Taobao such as the couch below:

Online store
Product name/photoPrice
創意個性卡通雙人日式沙發
$371 + $222 = 593*
*Free domestic shipping + parcel forwarding agent rates $222 - $540

3. TV Console

Online storeProduct name/photoPrice
HEMNES TV bench, white stain
$299
$60 for weekday delivery + $30 assembly fee (optional)
TV Console TVC1068B
$348
*Free delivery & free installation.
TV Console TV1045
$528
*Free delivery & free installation.
FM-TVC232 - TV Console
$297
Free delivery & free installation.
Oriole TV Console 6588WN
$339
*Free shipping
小户型黑白色钢化玻璃烤漆电视柜地柜
$112 + $13.50 + $25 = $150.50*
*Domestic shipping 60 yuan = $13.50 + Parcel forwarding agent fees $25 - $100.

With the extremely competitive market of Taobao, and the fact that this prices are straight from the manufacturer, bypassing the middleman, allows you to get this pretty decent TV Console from Taobao at the very affordable $150.

Here for this design, Taobao gives a very good deal to the consumer.

4. Wardrobe

Online storeProduct name/photoPrice
BRIMNES Wardrobe with 3 doors, white
$245
$60 for weekday delivery + $30 assembly fee (optional)
百靈 衣櫃帶3個門
$219 + $56 + $49 = $324
*Domestic shipping 250 yuan or $56 + Parcel forwarding fees $49 - $121.
Wardrobe WDS1009A
$338
*Free delivery & free installation.
卡通衣柜
$69 + $18 = $87
*Free domestic shipping + parcel forwarding fees $18.
簡易實木組合推拉門衣櫃
$703 + $100 = $803
*Free domestic shipping + parcel forwarding fees $100.

We found an Ikea copy on Taobao for the same wardrobe as above. As you can see, once you’ve factored in the shipping costs, it’s actually cheaper to buy the item at Ikea itself instead of Taobao.

What Taobao offers though, is a wide variety of wardrobe such as the adorable kid’s stackable cupboard in the table above for a total $87, or for an extra large wardrobe such as last item above for $803.

5. Bed Frame

Online storeProduct name/photoPrice
DUKEN Bed frame
$399
$60 for weekday delivery + $30 assembly fee (optional)
Princebed Queen Ideal Rest Spring Mattress & Bed Frame
$295
*Free delivery & free installation.
FM-BF009 - Bed Frame
$127
Free delivery & free installation.
Randy Faux Leather Queen Size Bed
$99
Harry Faux Leather Bedframe Queen (Dark Brown)
$239
*Free shipping
歐式鐵藝床
$191 + $9 + $37 = $237*
*Domestic shipping fees RMB 40 = $9 + Parcel forwarding agent fees

With the local e-commerce furniture market growing in Singapore, our local retailers can offer low prices to compete with Taobao.

From prices as low as $99 from FourtyTwo.sg, shoppers may as well purchase locally and receive their item quicker. What’s more, we like that FourtyTwo.sg has a product page that shows all the reviews from previous customers, hence you can judge for yourself whether its worth the purchase. Their 7-day return policy also sweetens the deal.

As great as the prices are nowadays in Singapore for bed frames, if you’d like designer bed frames like this four poster bed frame below, Taobao can offer great savings of more than $1000 versus local stores.

Online storeProduct name/photoPrice
Urban Four Poster Bed
$2850
美式鄉村四柱床
$1017 + $124 = $1141*
*Free domestic shipping + Parcel forwarding agent fees $124 - $292.

6. Outdoor Furniture

Online storeProduct name/photoPrice
KUNGSHOLMEN / HÅLLÖCorner easy chairs w table, outdoor, black-brown, beige
$616.60
$60 for weekday delivery + $30 assembly fee (optional)
Keter - Corfu Balcony Set
$390
*Free delivery & free installation.
Costa Patio Set, White Cushions
$399.90
*Free shipping
鳥巢藤椅茶幾
$211 + $99 = $310*
*Free domestic shipping + Free Parcel Forwarding Agent Fees $99 - $261.

For a two chair plus coffee table set, our local online stores are offering almost comparable prices. Taobao offers a 20% cheaper option, so it’s probably not worth the hassle if you’re looking to buy only one set of outdoor furniture, but quite worthwhile if you’re buying a whole lot of furniture from Taobao.

Here we look at a unique “designer” outdoor furniture for a price comparison:

Online storeProduct name/photoPrice
Black Cocoon Swing Chair with Orange Cushion
$349.90
藤吊籃吊椅
$153 + $86 = $239*
*Free domestic shipping + Parcel forwarding agent fees $86 - $216

Savings for this unique “egg-chair” outdoor furniture is around 30%. We find that the more “niche” the style you’re looking for, the more you’d probably save if you buy from Taobao versus local Singapore stores.

 

Our Take Away

Hence to sum up, the price difference between Taobao and local online furniture stores may not be as significant as we think.

With our own local e-commerce market developing, local online retailers such as Lazada.sg, FortyTwo.sg, Furnituremart.sg, Furnituresg.sg can put up a good price fight with comparable or lower prices, free and quicker shipping, and most of all – convenient free installation.

Our local online stores are providing decent prices for basic, mainstream designs. If you are a shopper looking for decent, mainstream designs, or a landlord who’d like to furnish your units quickly and conveniently – local online stores is up to the task with quicker delivery and convenient free installation.

However, if you’re a homeowner looking for unique and interesting furniture pieces, who’s looking to decorate your dream home as inspired by Home & decor magazine, you can’t beat the variety and prices of Taobao. And of course, the more you buy from Taobao, the more you save, as shipping rates have a minimum volumetric weight.

Which type of home owner are you? Would you shop from our local furniture stores or Taobao?

Let us know your thoughts and happy shopping !

For smaller-sized items such as lighting, roller blinds, bathroom sinks and so on, read our verdict on which we find cheaper – Taobao or local online stores here >>

 

Special Shout-out:

A special shout-out to Taobao4u. Taobao4u is a special concierge service that we find extremely useful.

If you’re intimidated by having to communicate in Mandarin with the sellers, needing to know what crucial questions to ask like “how much is volumetric weight” etc, and worried that your item will arrive in bad shape/not like how you expected, then this service truly allows you to skip all the stress.

At just a reasonable SGD 10 per link, you can just email photos of items you want to Taobao4u, and they’ll help you find a similar item on Taobao according to your budget inclusive of shipping, and with good ratings.

If you’re renovating your entire house, Taobao4u could save you a lot of time being the expert in navigating the overwhelming pages of Taobao, and helping you ask the vendors all the right questions to ensure your item arrives safely and affordably in Singapore.

Here’s their Facebook page >>

 

Main Photo Credit:

Modern Living Room by Other Metro Interior Designers & Decorators from  Carpenters.com.sg

 

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