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Sunday, May 31, 2015

Shopback, Cashback For Your Online Shopping is an eCommerce enabler, similar to eBates. The primary objective of an eCommerce enabler is to direct traffic to online merchants and retailers. By doing so, they will earn a commission for a sale or conversion. A portion of this commission is then shared with the consumer as a form of cash back.

For the online shopper like myself, who frequently buys from online merchants like Luxola, Zalora and ASOS, it is silly not to make use of this cash back opportunity. So let me share with you how it works.

1. Create an account with Shopback

Follow the link to, create your Shopback account.

Shopback Register

2. Update your address and account details

Updating your personal details gives you USD$5 cash back.

Update Address

Select your payment method (Bank account or Paypal).

Shopback account details

3. Search for an online retailer

Use the search bar to find the retailer or sort by the categories. Example: "Fashion".

Category Fashion

For our guide, we selected "Luxola", a great portal for beauty products.

4. Click on the Promotion, Coupon or Discount code

Shopback provides a variety of promotional codes or discounts that can be used with the retailer. 

To ensure that you can receive any cash back, it is important to follow some of the rules that allow them to track your 'conversion'. They are listed as follows:

- Always ensure that cookies on your web browser is enabled 
- Use the same browser window that was launched by Shopback to complete the purchase
- Try not to use other eCommerce Enablers for the same merchant (as this may result in disputes)

Promo Codes

Promos and Discount

Things to note

Shopback Things to note

From our luxola shopping, we will be eligible for a 6.0% cash back !

5. Make your purchase

Select your purchase, add to cart and check-out from your favourite online merchant.

Buy from this window

6. Collect and redeem your cash back

Shopback will credit the cash back within the specified period. Once your cash back has been credited, you will be able to view the balance from your account.

You will be able to redeem your cash back once it reaches more than SG$10.01. However, some merchants may take up to 60 days to confirm the commission, so this will vary depending on the speed of confirmation.

Unlike eBates, whereby cashback is paid out every quarter, Shopback will credit all eligible cash back to your specified bank account within 7 working days of redemption!

cash back redeem


As an avid online shopper, it makes absolute sense to make our money go the extra mile. eCommerce enablers like eBates and Shopback are great mechanisms that allows shoppers like you and I to earn that additional discount (via cashback). Do give it a try the next time you shop online and i am sure you would be pleasantly surprised!

Read more from the FAQ here. Happy Shopping! 

Monday, May 25, 2015

Taobao - The Ultimate Account Setup Guide

In case you haven't realised, Internet Shopping is the new black. Online eCommerce providers like Amazon, Taobao, Lazada and Luxola are giving the regular brick-and-mortar businesses a run for their money. These online retailers link-up small businesses with consumers. Thus, it is no surprise that you can find anything and everything online these days.

In our guide, we will focus mainly on creating an account on Taobao. We will take you through the account creation process and the important things to take note, before making your first Taobao purchase.

Create an Account

Browse to Taobao (We recommend using Chrome for its inbuilt google translate functionality) and select the "Register for free" (免费注册) link. 

Taobao - Create Account

- Translate the page to English for ease of use.

Create Account in English

- Put in your mobile phone number (this is important)
- Input the captcha to prove you are not a robot
- Check the "Create your Alipay account..."

Input the details
- You will receive an sms or email confirmation (depending on whether you used the "Register with your E-mail address" option).
- Follow the link or input the passcode into the page to complete the registration

Link to Complete Registration

Update Your Delivery Address

If you have followed the above steps diligently, congratulations, you are just halfway there to an endless shopping paradise. Complete the following important steps to ensure your purchases get delivered to the right address.

This video will show you how to setup your delivery address:

Note: Remember to ensure the mobile number is correct. This mobile number will also be used for your parcel notifications and POPStation collection PINs. (See our 4PX, POPStation guide)

Start Shopping !!!

Now that we have completed our Account setup, update our delivery address, we can proceed to enjoy our shopping. As you may already know, Taobao is basically a consumer-to-consumer e-commerce platform. They do not physically deal with the goods or purchases. However, as with most shopping platforms, Taobao does provides some form of buyer/seller protection via its Alipay Escrow services.

Only when your purchases are received, in good order, will the payment be released to the seller. Hence, even though there is a risk of receiving a lemon or a purchase that does not match its descriptions, you could possibly get a refund. In fact, some sellers on Taobao actually do provide 7-day returns (no questions asked).

Do check out our Taobao buyer's guide on how to shop effectively. This will greatly reduce the chance of buying a poor or defective product. In the event that you actually do (hopefully not), remember to raise a complaint so that the funds will not be released to the seller and you can proceed with the refund/returns procedure.

Happy Taobao-ing!

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Singapore Savings Bond - A Risk Free Investment Option

The Singapore Savings Bond (SSB) is a specialized investment product, which will likely be launched in the 2nd half of 2015. It forms part of the plan by the government to make low-cost (and low risk) government Bonds available to retail investors like you and I.

The concept of the Singapore Savings Bond interest rates will be linked to the long-term Singapore Government Securities (SGS) rates. But unlike SGS bonds, which pay the same interest rates every year, the Savings Bond will start with smaller interest rates that will keep rising. The longer you hold the bond, the higher your return.

One of the most interesting feature of this investment product is that a bondholder can get his money back in any month, with no penalty imposed. Unlike a regular bond or a fixed deposit, this gives an added dimension of liquidity for the bond holder. 

Another key design of the bond is its non-tradable aspect. This feature protects the individuals from potential capital losses in the secondary markets, making it a fairly safe and low risk investment.

Let's take a look at some of the important facts of the Singapore Savings Bond with this infographic.

SSB - All You Need To Know

Other Features:

Who can buy
- Individuals only (Like You and I).

- 10 years.

Method Of Payment
- Cash, the Government will consider allowing SRS or CPF to purchase in the future.

- Paid every 6 months (Twice a year).
- At issuance, rates are fixed based on the prevailing SGS yields and locked in for each issue.

Monthly. Allocated via balloting of units if oversubscribed.

Monthly, with no penalty. 
Principal and any outstanding accrued interest will be paid on redemption. 
You will always get your principal amount back in full.

When will the Savings Bond be available
- It will likely be launched in the second half of 2015.


I would recommend this product for the less savvy investors who would like to achieve any of the following investment objectives:

1. Protect themselves against inflation (Although not particularly great).

2. Balance their investment portfolio.

3. Long-term savings option at a low risk (Saving for a 'rainy day').

After all, there aren't many (or any) investment products that provide principal protection. Backed by solid governance, financial stability and a diversified economy, our sovereign debt is only one of the 9 countries in the world with a AAA rating from all rating agencies.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Taobao - A Comprehensive Buying Guide

In 2014, Taobao became one of the worlds biggest e-Commerce website. Boasting an average of 100 million pageviews and more than 60 million dollars worth of transactions per day. Being the most popular platform for small businesses in china to sell their wares, it is no wonder you can practically find anything and everything from Taobao or Tmall.

Buying from Taobao can either be really easy or extremely frustrating. Knowing how to pick the right seller is the key to having a frustration free shopping experience. This guide will teach you various ways to pick the best seller of your items.

Search for the product that interests you

In this example, I want to buy an aromatherapy diffuser. Since everything is listed in Chinese, it is recommended to look up the Chinese name for whatever you need. English search terms might work, but Chinese will get you better results.

If you are not particularly conversant in Chinese, use the google translate tool to make translations during your searches. The tool does literal translations which may or may not yield the right results. You may need to trial on error before getting the right results.

Pick a seller that has successful transactions

I normally source my products from sellers with a reasonable amount of successful transactions. Aside from the product descriptions, User reviews are the best way to determine the quality of the products sold. Bear in mind that although there maybe paid reviews, buying from a seller with a substantial amount of sales reduces that risk.

I try to pick sellers with crowns or at least those with a 4 Diamond rating. (Take a look at the glossary below). To obtain a 4 Diamond rating, the seller would have to make at least 5000 successful and positive transactions.

Shopping Guide

Read reviews from other buyers

Scroll down a bit further and you will see a number of tabs. The first tab gives you the product description, followed by the user reviews, number of users who bought this product and finally the services provided by the seller ( 专享服务). 

Although i recommend using the reviews to help with your decision, take the reviews you read with a pinch of salt, as there is no way to determine if the reviews written for the product is legitimate.

Shopping Guide, Comments

Look out for pictures and good comments

More often than not, products with good reviews have a high chance of turning out great. Look out for user comments and reviews with attached pictures (图片). Filtering the comments by checking the radio button will show you user submitted pictures of the product. This is my favourite way of determining how the final product will look like.

Shopping Guide, Comments and Pictures

Taobao Glossary

Taobao Glossary Icon Meanings

Remember, picking established sellers with a higher rating, will almost always guarantee that you will receive your product in good order! Hope you enjoyed the article and our infographic.

If you liked our infographic, check out our 4PX, Peeka and 65Daigou shootout

Wednesday, May 06, 2015

4PX vs 65Daigou vs Peeka Comparison

Having been actively purchasing from Taobao for the last two to three years, we have used and experienced a variety of freight forwarders. Enough for us to share our personal experiences with each of the more popular ones. Hopefully you will find this infographic useful! 

Taobao - Peeka, 4PX and 65Daigou

*As of APR-2016, 65Daigou is now known as ezbuy.

Our Summary (Based on our experiences)

Value - In terms of value, 65Daigou and 4PX are pretty much tied. Both generally offer slightly better shipping rates than Peeka. Perhaps due to the auto-inclusion of 7% GST by Peeka for all sea shipments. This often makes the shipment overly expensive - especially if the total value is less than $400 (Minimum sum for customs GST declaration). 

Edit: In general, for small air packages (1.5-2kg), 65Daigou would be about 19RMB cheaper. However, if you do choose home delivery, there will be an additional charge - $5 or $8 (>= 8KG)

Promotions - 65Daigou and Peeka often run promotional rates on their shipments. Sometimes giving up to 20% off shipping during certain periods of the year. We have never seen any promotions for 4PX shipping.

Speed - 4PX in general has one of the fastest door-to-door turnover. Mainly because it is integrated with Taobao, has a partnership with Singpost (POPStation) and also a sizable logistics team in China. We experienced quite a fair bit of delays (about a week) with 65Daigou Ship-For-Me service. Peeka delivers as advertised.

Packaging - We had several poor experiences with 65Daigou, with regards to packaging. Several of our purchases were poorly packed and some where crushed during shipping. Peeka on the other hand handles this superbly. Our purchases were packaged nicely in carton boxes and arrived in great condition. We had no issues with the packaging by 4PX as well. Most of the packages arrive in well wrapped packages.

Misc - 65Daigou and Peeka provides various Buy-For-You services for users who are not proficient in Chinese. The service includes an agency fee, which covers checking of purchases and the concierge services rendered.

Our Recommendation

4PX - Fast economy air shipment, for purchases which are not bulky or heavy. We use this freight forwarder for most of our regular Taobao purchases. For those at work during office hours, the POPStation delivery method is simply perfect for you! 

65Daigou - For sea economy or bulky items, purchases below $400SGD and those who are willing to wait 3-4 weeks for a shipment.

Peeka - For sea economy or fragile items and purchases above $400SGD.