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Even before Jusmin Tan bought her 1,184 sq ft five-room resale flat, she was already shopping for furniture and fittings to buy on Taobao. “I actually spent six months before I bought my house researching furniture on Taobao every night!” Jusmin, 36, self-employed, told 8Days.sg.

Yes, buying furniture on Taobao is a mammoth task, especially if you're new to it. But cheaper prices and more choices are among the reasons why it's become common for homeowners in Singapore to go the extra mile to buy furniture and fittings on the mega online shopping wonderland

Jusmin calls it her "80 per cent Taobao home", having bought everything from her sofa and dining table to fans and the kitchen sink online. The handful of items that she bought in Singapore are mainly appliances such as the TV, refrigerator, washing machine, toilet bowls, heater and KTV system. Carpentry such as the kitchen cabinets and an open-concept wardrobe was done by the interior design firm she engaged, Azcendant Pte Ltd. Window blinds were also sourced locally.

Everything else came from Taobao, where she spent a total of $7,500. Items were shipped over via a third-party freight forwarder at a total cost of $1,500. 

But it doesn’t come without hard work and some risk.

Due to the sheer volume of her buys, she shipped them to Singapore in three batches — the largest shipment measuring about 900kg, or about 6 cubic metres. This shipment alone included her bedframe, sofa, TV console, dining table, six chairs, shoe rack, study table and chairs and other miscellaneous items.

Part of the reason browsing for items on Taobao took a hefty six months was so that she’d be able to find a reliable seller. “I researched a lot on the seller’s reviews and also looked at their monthly sales volumes. Those experienced ones who often sell things to people in Singapore will know exactly what to do [when it comes to packing, so that your items will not arrive damaged]. 

“Usually once I tell the seller than I’m shipping the items to Singapore, they’d automatically ask me to top up more money to add a wooden crate to the packaging [for extra protection].”

It also helped that her IDs gave advice and made sure it was suitable for her home before she confirmed her orders.

The shopping journey doesn’t end when the boxes arrive at her doorstep. Jusmin also hired a handyman to put together some large items that needed assembling, such as the toilet vanity, bedframe, cabinets, tables and chairs. She spent another $850 on the handyman’s services.

Jusmin, who moved into her new home over three months ago, has been satisfied with her purchases, "Nothing has spoiled or requires my attention, so I'm very happy so far!" she quipped.

Curious to see her haul? Scroll on for Jusmin's Taobao shopping list.

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