Purchasing online was something I only got into about a year ago. I am a relative latecomer and it was quite hard for me to whip out my credit card and tap my numbers in. For one, I didn’t trust to purchase something that I haven’t been able to see or touch. Secondly, what if they’re fake products, assuming I’m purchasing a branded item? Thirdly, can I get a refund if I need to return my purchase or if it’s damaged? Finally…what if someone installed a keytracker and was secretly monitoring everything I typed, including my credit card number (and various other dramatic incidences that involve a mysterious ‘someone’, my credit card data stolen, my IDENTITY STOLEN…yeah.)
Rambling aside, I’d like to share which online stores I’ve been at, my reviews on them and to find out from readers if there are other sites I can purchase from too.
Let’s start off with the ever-famous StrawberryNET.com:
Seasoned online buyers will know StrawberryNET by heart. It’s been given the highest rating by BizRate, a website that rates online stores. SN (StrawberryNET for short) has a myriad of brands that are both available and unavailable in Malaysia. So for those who miss brands like Stila, you can still get it on SN. List of pros and cons:
PROS: Free shipping everywhere around the world (although some fees may apply for perfumes, so do check), careful packing with packing peanuts and a hardy box to withstand knocking around, good customer service (emails get replied promptly for me), can be considerably cheaper (I hear that Dermalogica is cheap as chips), plenty of sales and freebies to entice buyers (first time buyers get one free gift), wide range of products, from skincare to makeup and even haircare, and loyalty discount of up to 10%. Parcels arrive within a week.
CONS: Some items may not be necessarily cheaper, so do check at your local counters before purchase.
Nonpareil boutique is based in the US, and carries brands such as LA Colors, Milani, NYX and ELF. Their range is more skewed to makeup brands and there are some nail polish brands available as well. I’d say that Nonpareil sells the US drugstore brands that have good following with customers. Seasoned beauty addicts would have heard of NYX and ELF, and the less seasoned ones would ask Sephora Malaysia to bring it in…which makes me cringe to death because NYX and ELF aren’t even brought in by Sephora US (OK will stop now before I talk about the young teenagers begging Sephora Malaysia to bring in Justin Bieber’s perfume…) ANYWAY.
If you need your fix of cheap US drugstore brands, Nonpareil is a great place to go to. There are sales and specials occasionally, and in my opinion the collection is small but good enough to get your interest piqued.
PROS: Cheap as chips, and with the MYR doing pretty well against the USD, it’s buy, buy, buy all the way. Service is prompt and everything was packed in bubble wrap. Decent range (could be larger though) with specials that will help you save a bit more than usual, things arrived pretty quickly – within 2-3 weeks.
CONS: Shipping packs a small dent in your purchase and they could do with better packaging. My stuff was delivered in a padded envelope and the contents were wrapped in bubblewrap but I ended up with slightly smooshed brushes. ROAR.
Next up, Doublewoot.com
I was introduced to Doublewoot by a colleague, and it was my first foray into online clothes shopping. Doublewoot is run by two girls with a passion for fashionable threads and many of their clothes are inspired by designs from ASOS, Zara and the like. I find the clothes to be of reasonable quality and affordable enough. In comparison with other boutiques like Cats Whiskers, I find Doublewoot’s quality better. They’ve got a large range of dresses which are great for a night out or for office, but I find them more tailored to slender girls. I’m built like a curvy Lego block with the obligatory stomach bump and large thighs, so one dress I bought rode a bit higher than I thought it would. Most of the clothes are made from stretchy material so within reason, they should fit. Pictures have measurements so it should help when buying the clothes. They also carry affordable genuine Longchamp bags. I haven’t purchased the bags from them so I can’t say anything about the bags 😦
PROS: Affordable with decent quality, shipping is free if you pay on the same day, great customer service, parcels arrive on time, large range of designs (and inspired-by designs). They’ve apparently got a boutique in Penang where you can look see, but I’m not based there so I haven’t been.
CONS: None I could think of. I think you need to be realistic when buying clothes online, especially non-branded gear. The quality may not be as good as you expect but you’re paying for an OK level of quality. My advice is to try handwashing your new clothes first to see how much color bleed you’ll get or how much shrinkage. Also given that this is a homegrown business, there will be times where clothes are non-restockable.
For cult beauty brands, I recommend Serendipity:
Serendipity.com.my specializes in cult beauty discoveries, such as Egyptian Magic Cream, UNII freedom palettes, Urban Decay’s Naked Palette (before it came to Sephora), NARS blushers and the like. It’s a home-grown blogshop with reasonably priced items. Serendipity is the official stockist for the famous BeautyBlender and Egyptian Magic Cream, so no worries there about the authenticity of the products.
PROS:Varied range of brands, authentic products, great customer service and reasonable pricing (in my opinion). Orders ship out quite fast and they take the time to answer customers’ questions on Facebook. Goods are packaged securely and they’ve got specials going on now and then. They even serve the international market, so those living in Australia, spend only RM200 and above and you’ll get free shipping! It’s only AUD60+ so I daresay it’s a huge bargain!
CONS: None I could think of. You’ll notice that their UD Naked Palette is more expensive than the retail price in Sephora, but to be fair they had that way before Sephora even came to Malaysia.
For bags, I’ve purchased my Longchamp at Smashing Pit Stop:
Smashing Pit Stop sells branded bags and a few selected clothes pieces. The blogshop owner gets her items from Europe and her prices are decent when compared to the other blogshops I’ve seen online. All her designer bags are genuine and she provides great customer service. The range may not be as wide as the other blogshops but the owner tells me that she does this as a hobby. Delivery is via PosLaju or COD to selected areas.
PROS: Genuine articles at prices that are comparable or slightly lower than other bigger blogshops, good customer service and trustworthy.
CONS: None I could think of. You can probably argue that the prices are higher than what you’d pay if you got the bags yourself in Europe, but most blogshops mark up the prices to make some money, but they would be lower than the retail prices in Malaysia.
The latest blogshop I found is SecretAllure.com
Secret Allure brings in nail polish brands such as OPI, Zoya, CND (famous for Shellac), China Glaze, Orly, and Color Club. They’ve got other brands as well which you can check on the website. Secret Allure is run by two sisters who source for these nail polishes, and they can even get in nail treatments by brands like NailTek. While this blogshop is fairly new, I was impressed with the professionalism of the blog layout. The prices are definitely cheaper than retail, and well, we can’t get Zoya or CND here so they are a good resource to go to. All the products are guaranteed genuine and are sourced from the US.
PROS: Genuine articles at cheaper prices, good customer service (there’s a chat feature at the bottom of the website, where you can chat with the blogshop owners), huge range (they can get almost everything from the brands listed), reasonable shipping prices and introductory/Facebook discounts. I like that they source directly from the US instead of selling mostly ready stock (they do have some ready stock but it’s very limited).
CONS: Order fulfillment is a little slow, around 3-4 weeks. I will say it’s probably due to them being relatively new and the higher the demand, the faster they can fulfill their supply. However they manage expectations by telling you when they’ll fulfill order on the website, so it’s very transparent. Right now they’ve managed to finish their first spree and their second spree is now open.
Do you have any online shops to recommend or warn me about? I’m trying to search for a reliable SK-II seller but I’m very worried about the authenticity as well.