When doing home renovation, besides LED lighting and bathroom fittings, furniture is the third category of goods which you stand to save lots of money if you sourced from Taobao. When it comes to furniture, i think most people will have doubts about buying from Taobao.
Can the furniture be shipped economically?
Yes, the furniture generally come packed as compact as possible. The sea freight shipping rate of S$90 per cubic meter (86of) is quite affordable. More often than not, the GST (compulsory for sea freight even if goods cost less than $400) will cost more than the shipping, but that just means you’re shipping a worthwhile amount of goods.
To give you an idea of the volume of furniture, 1 cubic meter is about enough to ship 2 tables (like the one featured above measuring 140cm X 70cm), 2 benches and 2 chairs. If, however, the furniture is pre-assembled, they will take up a lot more volume, but the convenience factor in not having to assemble the furniture is more an advantage than disadvantage. Don’t worry, if it is a large item, like a dining table, it will never be pre-assembled.
The other route to ship bulky furniture that probably more people know about is ezbuy prime. The S$2.99 shipping fee per checkout seems too good to be true. Well, if you are able to find exactly what you want from among the prime-eligible products, then maybe it makes sense. Even though you will be paying 4% agent fee and a higher price compared to buying the same item directly from Taobao, plus the prime membership fee, you might still save through the low shipping fee.
More often than not though, i think you may not be able to find exactly what you want, especially when it comes to furniture. I had my furniture made to size. I doubt you can do that with prime.
What about the quality of the furniture?
The quality is dependent on the price. If you pay top dollars, you will get top quality. The norm is low to average quality, which is acceptable to me. The whole idea of buying from Taobao is to get unbelievably cheap goods. When you examine these cheap furniture, you get the feeling they were hastily made, without being properly polished. There may be minor defects here and there. But anyway, these days, “rustic” is fashionable, and to me, these cheap furniture from Taobao is just right for rough use.
Is it easy to assemble the furniture?
Unfortunately no. Some furniture are done Ikea style whereby the screw holes are in place. Others are without screw holes but the wood is soft enough for you manually fasten the screws by brute force. Those with hard wooden tops, like the one featured above, you’ll have to use an electric drill. In fact, you may need more than two persons to put them together because you may have to apply pressure to ensure there is no gap. I employed a carpenter to help me put together the tables and benches. No other way. Even then, it is still cheaper than buying a similar product locally, i think. The dining table above, with a 5cm thick imported fir top, cost 740 Yuan (S$151) when i bought it.
Is is safe to ship the furniture?
Yes and no. The furniture are generally very well packed. They are packed to be able to be delivered domestically. Shipping them overseas does expose the items to even more drops and knocking about, and you might want to add wooden crating if you’re worried. Here are some damages to my furniture that i believe happened enroute.
Can i buy custom made furniture?
For sure. And that is one of the main advantages of buying from Taobao. I added 10cm width to both the tables i got and they look right, better than the original size.
Here’s how you go about it. You ask the seller about the dimensions and you’ll be given a quotation instantly. The price is proportional to the size. It’s not like if it’s custom made, the price will be doubled. Next, you place your order. The seller will tell you which item to bid for. Before making final payment, the seller will amend the price accordingly. Do remember to add a remark to remind the seller about the dimensions.
There are plenty of choices on Taobao, and often times you will find many sellers selling furniture of the exact same design, so do select a reliable seller, with higher sales volume and good reviews.
Do remember to collect cashback Taobao purchases through Shopback, because furniture, as you know, don’t come cheap, and the cashback amount will be sizeable.