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Sunday, 17 March 2013

BLOG -- My Online Shopping Habits (Part 2)

So, here is Part 2 of My Online Shopping Habits. I'm pretty much just going to list some of the sites I've ordered from and a brief recounting of my experiences with them. Of course, not everybody will have the same experience as me. Where you live and what you order -- as well as a whole bunch of other things that are not in your control -- are factors for how your online ordering experience will be like.

And just so you know, because not all of this will apply to everybody, this entry is written from the perspective of somebody ordering from Canada.

Each site will be covered in this format:

Online Site Store Link
Currency listed: The currency you will be charged when you order from this site.
Free Canadian Shipping? Does the site offer free shipping to Canada? [condition for free shipping is listed here]
Last Order Made: The last order I made from the site (to give you an idea of how recent / dated my experience is).
Brief Experiences: My brief online ordering experiences with the site.

 
GENERAL ORDERING IN CANADA

Amazon.ca
Currency listed: CAD
Free Canadian Shipping? YES [Orders totalling 25 CAD]
Last Order Made: February 2013

Brief Experiences: This site is generally okay. Just keep an eye out on the product prices, 'cuz they sometimes change day-by-day. When you opt for the free shipping, be prepared to wait maybe an extra week for your order to ship. Also make sure that if you're trying to get free shipping, to order products that Amazon actually carries. The product page should say "Ships from and sold by Amazon.ca". If it says "Ships from and sold by [insert another name]", that will not count towards free shipping.

I've had a few experiences where pre-ordered video games orders were delayed. One order was cancelled on me, even though I placed the order a few months before its release date. So it's not exactly the best place for video game pre-orders. But sometimes it's cheaper than other places.

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Chapters / Indigo
Currency listed: CAD
Free Canadian Shipping? YES [Orders totalling 25 CAD]
Last Order Made: February 2013

Brief Experiences: My whole online ordering experience with Chapters has been extremely pleasant. Even with free shipping, sometimes the order is shipped out as soon as the next business day. Their prices are generally decent for books. Everything else that I've seen seem to be at regular price (unfortunately).

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Best Buy
Currency listed: CAD
Free Canadian Shipping? YES [Orders totalling 20 CAD]
Last Order Made: November 2012

Brief Experiences: My online shopping experience with them is just... meh. When I did most of my shopping years ago, free shipping was only offered for some items. They also offered in-store pickup instead of shipping, but again, for certain items. Product availability wasn't always accurate, either. For Best Buy, I generally prefer buying in the actual store instead of online.

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IMPORTING -- VIDEO GAMES / CDS / MOVIES / ANIME

CDJapan
Currency listed: Japanese Yen
Free Canadian Shipping? NO
Last Order Made: August 2012

Brief Experiences: I order mainly Japanese music CDs, video games, and sometimes figures from the site. Hands down, CDJapan is one of my most trusted sites for importing. For their media, their prices are sometimes decent, often standard. Shipping and customs will unfortunately be the bigger culprits for lightening your wallet. Prices for anime figures are often cheaper, though, if you can get in on their early bird pre-ordering discount.

It's just... there's so much flexibility with your orders. When you place an order, say for Item A that's in-stock and for Item B that will release next month, Item A will be set aside for you until your whole order can be fulfilled. Now, let's just say that you realize that you don't have enough money for Item A next month, but you will in 3 months... the same time that another item you want (Item C) comes out. You place an order for Item C and then you can move Item A into the order with Item C. Now, you can only do this if you haven't been charged for the original order, but that is really nice.

I currently don't know of any other site with this kind of flexibility, and the peace of mind knowing that the item is still there for you. I'm hoping that this feature will never be abused.

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Yesasia
Currency listed: USD
Free Canadian Shipping? YES [Orders over 39 USD]
Last Order Made: May 2012

Brief Experiences: I will say right now: their video game prices are usually high. The really nice thing, though, is the free shipping option. Another sweet thing is that most often, orders to Canada aren't hit with customs. So, knocking off shipping costs and possible custom costs, some of their stuff could be the cheaper option, especially for the weightier items like books or figures.

I often buy Japanese music from them and sometimes Chinese music / movies. The unfortunate thing is that their older products aren't always up-to-date. Sometimes older media is listed as in-stock when it's not. Thankfully, they don't charge until an order has shipped. When you choose the free shipping option, expect at least a week's delay.

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Play-Asia
Currency listed: USD
Free Canadian Shipping? NO
Last Order Made: February 2012

Brief Experiences: This is my top 3rd site for importing Japanese media. Prices tend to be standard, though some of their products can be pretty pricey, especially the limited editions of whatever. But... they are one of the few import sites that actually will list limited editions of whatever for sale. That said, there isn't always the guarantee that a placed order will be fulfilled.

From my previous experiences, orders that can be fulfilled immediately take priority, regardless of when an order is placed. So, say you place an order for Item A (in-stock), and Item B (will be in-stock next week). Then, somebody places an order after you, just for Item A. The person who placed the order after you will get priority for Item A since their order can be fulfilled immediately. If there was only one of Item A in-stock... well... it would be an unfortunate day for you.

So, if you decide to order from Play-Asia, try to make sure you order in-stock items in one order. For products with a later availability, make another order for them.

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Zavvi
Currency listed: Euros
Free Canadian Shipping? NO
Last Order Made: December 2011

Brief Experiences: I have only had one buying experience from Zavvi, and it was pleasant. My order supposedly had a 0.99 Euros shipping fee, but I didn't see a similar promotion on their site just now, so that could have been a holiday promotion or something.

I checked out Zavvi, because I read from a number of people that it's a decent site to import UK video games. I was quite surprised that in my order of three items, Zavvi shipped the items out separately whenever they became available, at no extra cost. I find it pretty nice, and I would most likely check it out again.

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NIS America Online Store
Currency listed: USD
Free Canadian Shipping? NO
Last Order Made: May 2012

Brief Experiences: Now, this site is really specific. It's the online store portion of video game publisher, Nippon Ichi Software America (NISA). It mainly carries video games and anime series that they publish, as well as video game memorabilia. They also often carry exclusive limited editions of their video games. That's mainly why I order from them.

In terms of shopping experience, it's decent. I kinda wish they had more selection, so I could support them more.

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Rightstuf
Currency listed: USD
Free Canadian Shipping? YES [Orders totalling 250 USD]
Last Order Made: December 2012

Brief Experiences: So Rightstuf is my main shopping source for licensed anime. Their prices are just so... CHEAP sometimes. They also carry a lot of older series at cheap prices. Whenever I shop there, I have to make sure I have enough to get free shipping. Normal shipping to Canada would be 7 USD for the first item, and then 2 USD each for every extra item. That would just kill the deal.

Rightstuf's track record is fairly decent. Most often I receive all my items in good conditions. There were a few times, though... I could tell that some new products were actually used and shrink-wrapped. There were also a few cases that I experienced slight defects with the discs. Of course, since I order 250 USD's worth of anime every time, it's often too late to bring them up when I catch those things.

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IMPORTING -- FIGURES
 
Hobby Link Japan
Currency listed: Japanese Yen
Free Canadian Shipping? NO
Last Order Made: September 2010

Brief Experiences: My defense for not ordering from Hobby Link Japan for so long is that I don't usually collect figures, which is what this store specializes in. All my experiences with them have been very decent. If they carried stuff I would order, they would be seeing more of my money than they do now.

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IMPORTING -- CLOTHES 
 
YesStyle
Currency listed: CAD
Free Canadian Shipping? YES [Orders totalling 150 CAD]
Last Order Made: April 2012

Brief Experiences: So, this is a sister site to Yesasia. YesStyle deals with Asian clothing. Sometimes their prices are decent, but other times, their prices are up there. The unfortunate thing is that sometimes, the colours of the products on the site don't match up with the product colours in real life. So, for example, online you order a teal-coloured skirt. When you receive it, you see that the teal-coloured skirt is actually a sky-blue-coloured skirt. I'm sure it could be sent back -- I've just never done it so I'm not entirely sure.

Another unfortunate thing is that sometimes I get hit with customs. Also unfortunate is that sometimes... the clothes I want to buy are too small for me. :(

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Qutie Land
Currency listed: HKD
Free Canadian Shipping? NO
Last Order Made: May 2012

Brief Experiences: This site is more like a commission site for the designs they advertise. There is usually a set price for set sizes, but if you need something customized to your size, it will cost extra. When you place your order, before they can get to work and start making the product, you will have to provide your measurements.

To put timelines into perspective, I placed an order for 3 items around mid-May. It took about two weeks to provide all the measurements they were looking for. Then, my items arrived mid-July -- about a month and a half.

I would still buy from them.

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Thanks for reading! If you have any questions about any of these sites, feel free to ask, though checking out the sites' "Help" section or just directly contacting them might be better. If some of this info is dated, please let me know. 

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