By Chin Yong Chang
The New Paper
Aug 11, 2015
Meet Mr Smith Leong, a 31-year-old blogger who has filled his home with things he bought online.
Not just the quirky stuff like the unicorn costume, clothes for his dog and two cats, and the bouquet of fake flowers he used for his wedding.
Mr Leong believes in the convenience of online shopping, and he is hooked.
Foodstuff, toys, kitchen and electronic gadgets, clothes and even the furniture in his four room Punggol flat were all bought online.
He said: "I fell in love with online shopping ever since I first tried it. "In fact you might even say I'm an online hoarder."
Mr Leong started relying on online vendors after he bought his flat in December 2012.
When he first started out, he was concerned whether he would be conned, or if the products he bought online weren't what they appeared to be.
But the things he bought were often so cheap - like a piece of clothing for a few dollars - that he was willing to take the risk.
Even if he or his wife couldn't wear them, he would resell them on other platforms, like Carousell.
The silliest item he's bought is probably a one-piece unicorn costume that he's even worn out to social functions.
He's just one of the many Singaporeans who have taken their shopping online.
Last year, London-based market intelligence firm Euromonitor said people in Singapore spent $1.08 billion on consumer goods they bought online.
This is up from the $960 million in 2013 and $855 million in 2012.
Indeed, online vendors like FairPrice Online, Sheng Siong and RedMart The New Paper spoke to reported an increase in sales.
Mr Dominic Ng, the deputy general manager of FairPrice Online said: "We have an approximately 20 per cent year-on-year increase in customers.
"Currently, we have over 115,000 subscribers. Compared to 2014, our average number of orders per month has increased by 25 per cent."
Hipvan, which sells clothes, home furnishing and gadgets, reported a 900 per cent increase in revenue last year compared to 2013.
Lazada Singapore, which sells electronic gadgets and other appliances, reported "double-digit sales growth" month-on-month since they were founded in June last year.
For Mr Leong, not only is it much more convenient to shop online, he's found it's often cheaper to buy something on the Internet compared to getting it from a local brick and mortar shop.
And that's even after paying for postage. He said: "Why go all the way to a shop and physically carry the item back, when you can just have it sent to you?"
And he said he was initially surprised how cheap some items could be.
Despite the mountains of things he has bought online, he claimed he spends an average of about $200 a month on them.
He pointed to his chairs in the living room, which were bought online.
In another room there are shelves of books, figurines and Lego sets which he found online.
And opening his closet, he showed TNP the clothes his pets wear, and the baby clothes he bought in preparation for the child he and his wife are expecting next February.
His favourite online vendor is China-based taobao.com where he says he can get the biggest discounts.
He lists his most memorable purchases: "I bought a Captain America bag for $4 there, which costs $40 here.
"And several iPhone 6 Plus cases at about $4 each, which cost at least a few tens of dollars if bought from shops here.
"And I also bought a robotic vacuum cleaner online for $300. It typically costs at least $1,000 here."
When asked if his wife thought he was being a cheapskate, he said: "Oh hardly, in fact she's the one who's more into the huge price savings we get from shopping online."
He said he's bought items on impulse as well - like the Tsum Tsum toys - because he plays the game on his iPhone.
He said: "It's very easy to click on a button, and you don't feel the pain of parting with your cash like when you are in a brick and mortar shop."
But there are some items that he would not purchase online.
Shoes, for example, are something he insists on trying before buying because he says he has wide feet - so regular shoes don't usually fit even if they're the correct size.
But while Mr Leong buys his clothes online, his wife, Miss Chris Goh, 30, a civil servant, doesn't usually get hers online because he says women's clothes never seem to fit her.
Neither does he get his groceries online because he prefers being able to pick out quality produce before buying them.
But he said he has bought items like chia seeds, coconut oil and amino collagen online for his wife.
Online shopping has entrenched itself in the couple's lives, and Mr Leong said his family is all the better for it.
"When we have our first child next year, it'll probably be even more inconvenient for us to bring our baby out and shop," he said.
"Online shopping makes it much easier for us to get things done, and I don't see us ever stopping buying things online."
"It's very easy to click on a button, and you don't feel the pain of parting with your cash like when you are in a brick and mortar shop."
- Mr Smith Leong
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