I remember in 2008 after I got my first debit card and I announced to my friends that I was going to buy (or that I already purchased) a pair of sunglasses on the online shopping site, eBay. No one tried to hide their smirks.
Responses ranged from “You don dash person money be dat” to “You sure say you be Nigerian?” ‘Dash’ is pidgin/slang for ‘give’ and “You sure say you be Nigerian?” is used to express exasperation that you’re probably not as street smart as every Nigerian in the world should be.
About two weeks passed before the glasses arrived and everyone was surprisingly shocked. I wasn’t. I’d spent the month before reading about online shopping, eBay and PayPal’s money-back guarantee. I think I knew what I was getting into when I clicked ‘Buy’ on those pair of sunglasses.
Fast forward to the (present) golden age of the internet, and there’s certainly more security around online shopping. While I do a lot more shopping on the internet now, I still spend a lot of time researching online shopping platforms and the sellers on those platforms. I hope you do too.
I know a lot of people who don’t buy anything online because they don’t trust anything on the internet. That is, apart from Facebook, Gmail, Outlook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, LinkedIn, bank apps, Google Maps, Waze, Shazam, all the mobile games, their iPhones and Android phones, and many other apps. I’m not judging, we all saw what Facebook’s been doing.
Damn, that’s a long intro to just tell you about my top five favourite online shopping platforms in Malaysia for everything other than groceries (you can get your groceries on some of the more general sites like Lazada, though). Anyway, the background story usually works for characters in movies, and I think it’ll work here too.
My go-to site for electronics—mobile devices, hard drives and computer parts. At least I check the prices here to have an idea what the range of local prices are before I go on to my next favourite platform.
This is actually a forum for discussions about almost everything, from cars to fashion to computer and mobile games to relationships. The shopping area is located in the Garage section at the bottom of the main page, with different categories for different items.
I like this because, more often than not, you can message a seller directly on the platform or if they have their mobile number, agree to a meetup, and complete a deal within a few hours. You can also tell how long a person has been active in the system and see their reputation on the platform.
Your preferred method of dealing here should be Cash on Delivery (COD); you agree on a meeting venue and time with the seller (choose malls or places with people), get there and inspect the item, pay for it and go home happy if it’s what you want. Only available on the web. You can access it on the web browser on your mobile devices, however.
I usually end up buying most of my electronics and clothing items from here after checking the prices everywhere else. I like the wide range of options available here that is often not available in Malaysia. It also has the best online security in this group.
Even with the cost of shipping, the prices can be better than you get by shopping offline or even online in Malaysia. Case in point, I once got a 34-inch widescreen computer monitor for less than RM1,400 including shipping! Deals like these don’t happen often but if you’re attentive and stick around a lot, then you’ll find them.
There’s also the local version of the global site, eBay Malaysia, where you can get some options as well, but you don’t get as much variety as you do on the global or international sites. App and web versions are available.
My first choice when I’m looking for properties to rent. It has just as many options and sometimes you can get really good deals here too. I also check for electronics here too as long as the seller agrees to a COD. Otherwise, it’s a no.
I learned my lesson on here after I was scammed for a few hundred ringgits for an iPhone that I knew was too cheap. Lesson learned. If the price looks too good to be true, then it probably is. If the seller agrees to a meetup, then inspect the item properly and make sure it is a public space.
You don’t get the option to pay directly on the site and have to deal with the seller directly, off the platform; which is where the risk is. Most times, you have to bank-in to the person’s account, they confirm and then send you the item. If they choose not, then—like in the case of the iPhone—your money’s gone. Available on the web and as an app.
I’m not a big fan of Lazada although I keep a long wish list on the site and I have bought more than a few things from here. One of the best things I like about shopping on here is the COD feature.
You order as usual and select to pay when the item is delivered. This will be a plus for those who are wary of the internet. Or expats who don’t yet have banking facilities in Malaysia. One thing to note is that the option is not available for every product or every store on the platform. Some sellers choose to transact business that way, others don’t.
However, you still get your traditional payment options; credit and debit cards, online bank transfers, 7-11, PayPal, Maybank Instalment Plan, and when available, payment on delivery. The site does come with its share of frustrations, though.
I’ve ordered items from the site on several occasions, waited a few days without any updates and had been suddenly informed that my order was cancelled. I’ve heard from other people that this has happened to them too. You might also want to check the Reviews section of what you’re buying to see what other buyers have to say. It is available as an app and on the web.
When I initially started using this platform, it was quite possibly the worst thing ever. Most of the items on the site were fakes and the sellers didn’t have to indicate the authenticity of the items.
Now, it’s one of the top online platforms for electronics, but it has sellers that have almost everything else. It has the option of transacting your business on the platform but I’ve realised a lot of the sellers want to deal outside. As usual, the risk is higher outside.
Check for the verified sign on the sellers and stores and always look at the reviews and rating on items that they’ve sold previously. Available on the web and an app.
My favourite platform for bargain hunting, Carousell is available and more accessible in the app although there’s a web version too. The platform has almost everything, cars to pets, and one of its main draws is that it tries to get you to sell your unwanted items on the platform too. The more people, the merrier.
You have to be careful here as there’s no in-platform payment system. Your transactions have to be with the sellers directly, off-site. Some common sense always works. Check for the seller (or buyer) ratings and reviews left by their other customers before you proceed.
The site allows you to search by proximity so look for items closer to you first that you can request a COD with the seller. In case you don’t find any, proceed cautiously, ensuring that you’re transacting safely.
These are Other Expats‘ favourites and are not exhaustive reviews of these online shopping platforms but they should give you an idea of where to shop for what online in Malaysia and some things to look out for.