Friday, May 18, 2012

Guide to Buying and Shipping From Amazon to Singapore

Guide to Buying and Shipping From Amazon to Singapore

This guide is written for Singaporeans or those living in Singapore, and is last updated on 16 Feb 2012.

It should help you decide whether to buy from Amazon. I have bought items from all Amazon branches except from the China, Italy and Spain branches.

In this guide, Amazon US will be referred to as, UK branch as etc.

For buying digital content like mp3, ebooks, etc, read Guide on buying Amazon Digital Content Outside of US.

1. Introduction

Why buy from Amazon?

1. Even after including shipping cost, some items are still cheaper than local prices. This is particularly true for books and video discs from Amazon US.

2. Their variety is amazingly huge.

3. Their customer service is excellent. They have great return and refund policies. You'll have to pay for return shipping charges though.

4. There is no GST if your package (including shipping cost) is under SGD$400. If you want to get SGD$600 worth of stuff, you should split them up into two orders, each under $400.

When is it not suitable to buy from Amazon?

1. If you need the item urgently. Shipping time varies. Shipment may get delayed at customs, post offices, etc.

2. They don't usually ship electronics to Singapore. Visit Amazon Global page to see products that ship globally.

If you do want electronics, you can use services like vPostComgateway or Borderlinx (Citibank card users only) who act as third party forwarder to ship your items to Singapore. surface shipping is free for certain dollar amount so you just have to pay for the forwarder's shipping charges. I once paid $25 to vPost to ship a software package, the size of 3 CD cases, which is very expensive. For Comgateway, it's US$23 to ship a Kindle and case.

3. Generally, the more expensive the item is in Singapore, the more you'll save from Amazon. When price differences are small, it's not worth the effort and you should support local retailers instead.

2. The different Amazon branches

I shall now talk specifically about each Amazon branch. The shipping charges listed below are all meant for shipments to Singapore.

(box) is a per shipment charge, (item) is per item. There can be many items in one box shipment.

Note that sometimes Amazon might ship your items in separate shipments (at their cost). Happens when your items come from different fulfillment centres.

Also listed are the sales tax, which is only applicable to their local residence. We don't have to pay their sales tax - item will be cheaper as a result. For example, if you're getting a book that cost $100 Euro from Amazon Germany (sales tax of 7%), you'll only need to pay $93 Euro. Shipping charges still remain the same. (source)

Shipping charges and delivery times:

  • Standard Shipping 17-31 days
    Books - US4.99 (box) - US4.99 (item)
    Disc - US4.99 (box) - US3.99 (item)
  • Expedited Shipping 12-19 days
    Books - US13.99 (box) - US5.99 (item)
    Disc - US13.99 (box) - US3.99 (item)
  • Priority Shipping 3-7 days
    Books - US29.99 (box) - US5.99 (item)
    Disc - US29.99 (box) - US3.99 (item)

I've had rare occasions where boxes take two months to arrive.

Generally, the more expensive a book is in Singapore, the cheaper it is in USA. It depends on currency rates of course.

For bulky or heavy items, there's an additional surcharge of US8 (standard shipping) or US10 (expedited and priority shipping). Anything more than 5 pounds (2.26kg) is considered heavy. (source) - (Sales tax: 16% for electronics)

Shipping charges and delivery times:

  • Standard airmail 8-12 days
    Books - UK5.49 (box) - UK2.99 (item)
    Disc - UK2.09 (box) - UK1.49 (item)
  • Priority Express 2-4 days
    Books - UK20.99 (box) - UK1.59 (item)
    Disc - UK20.99 (box) - UK1.59 (item)

Sometimes books here are cheaper than on Amazon US. This price difference is due to exchange rates and sometimes the book distribution agreement. Their per item shipping charge is lower.

The delivery is about 10-14 days, from my experience with Standard airmail. (source)

Shipping charges and delivery times:

  • Standard 8-12 weeks
    Books - CA9.99 (box) - CA5.49 (item)
    Disc - CA4.99 (box) - CA2.49 (item)
  • Expedited 2-4 weeks
    Books - CA15.99 (box) - CA8.99 (item)
    Disc - CA9.99 (box) - CA3.99 (item)
  • Priority 3-7 days
    Books - CA19.99 (box) - CA9.99 (item)
    Disc - CA19.99 (box) - CA4.99 (item)

If you're not going for Priority shipping, the shipping time is very long. The per-item shipping charge is quite high. (source) - (Sales tax: 7% for normal products, 16% for electronics)

Shipping charges and delivery times:

  • Standard 7-9 days
    Euro14 (box)
  • Express 2-12 days
    Euro40 (box)

There are no per item charges. This is the best place to do bulk purchases. However, items sold in Europe are relatively pricey. You might be able to find some electronics that can ship direct from Amazon Germany.

The delivery is about 2 weeks, from my experience with Standard shipping. (source) - (Sales tax: 5.5% for normal products, 16% for electronics)

Shipping charges and delivery times:

  • Standard 12-15 days
    Euro13 (box) - Euro1.90 (item)
  • Express 2-6 days
    Euro19 (box) - Euro1.85 (item)

Again, items in Europe are pricey. There are per item shipping charges in addition to the box charges. (source)

Shipping charges and delivery times:

  • Standard 12-15 days
    Euro14 (box)
  • Express 2-6 days
    Euro20 (box)

There's no per-item charge so this is also the place for bulk purchases. Items from Amazon Italy are also quite pricey. I've not bought here so I can't comment on the shipping time. (source)

Shipping charges and delivery times:

  • Standard 12-15 days
    Euro14 (box)
  • Express 12-15 days
    Euro20 (box)

There's no per-item charge so this is also the place for bulk purchases. Items from Amazon Spain are quite pricey. I've not bought here so I can't comment on the shipping time. The standard and express shipping times are the same but at different charges. (source) - (Sales tax: 5%)

Shipping charges and delivery times:

  • International Express 2-5 business days
    Books - 1900 yen (box) - 300 yen (item)
    Discs - 1400 yen (box) - 300 yen (item)

The only shipping option is International Express. The per shipment charge is expensive, but per item charge is relatively cheap.

Shipping is very fast. I've the shipping date confirmation on a Friday and it was here next Monday.

In general, the Japanese books in Kino are 20-30% more expensive than Amazon Japan (with per item charge but no per box added). Buying from Kino means you don't have to pay the hefty per shipment charge. Again, if you're buying a few books, Kino's price doesn't look very good already.

Amazon third party merchants

If Amazon doesn't ship the item you want overseas, try the Amazon third party merchants. Merchants who can ship overseas will indicate on their page with "international shipping available". Each merchant has their own shipping rates and time. Generally, their shipping is more expensive than Amazon.

There's no consolidation orders for different items even if bought from the same merchant. E.g. If you buy a book and a DVD from a merchant, it will be shipped out in two boxes, and hence there will be two per-box charges.

3. Examples on calculating shipping charges

I shall use Amazon US shipping rates, the Standard Shipping, for these examples. Price of the items are not included.

For an order of 1 book:
US4.99 (box) + US4.99 (item)

2 books:
US4.99 (box) + (2 x US4.99) (item)

2 discs:
US4.99 (box) + (2 x US3.99) (item)

1 book, 1 disc:
US4.99 (box) + US4.99 (book) + US3.99 (disc)

The box charge, or per shipment charge, is always there.

By the way...

If you find this article helpful, consider making your purchase through any Amazon link on my blog. I get a little commission for those purchases, at no additional cost on your part. The other simple way to help is to hit the Facebook Like button to share this article with your friends.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Remove unwanted empty lines

Use either of the following commands to delete all empty lines:

  :g/^$/d  :v/./d  

If you want to delete all lines that are empty or that contain only whitespace characters (spaces, tabs), use either of:

  :g/^\s*$/d  :v/\S/d  

In the second command, v operates on lines that do not match, and \S matches anything that is not a whitespace, and d deletes the flagged lines (all lines that have no characters, or that have only whitespace characters).

You may want to condense multiple blank lines into a single blank line. The following will delete all trailing whitespace from each line, then replace three or more consecutive line endings with two line endings (a single blank line):

  :%s/\s\+$//e  :%s/\n\{3,}/\r\r/e  

The e substitute flag means that no error is displayed if the pattern is not found. In the second command, \n in the search pattern finds newline, while \r in the replacement inserts a newline.