In the last two years of living in a mostly lockdown, work-from-home state, my online shopping habits quadrupled. While I miss physical shopping in malls, markets, and bazaars, I’ve learned to purchase most of my necessities online, with Shopee topping my list.
Allow me to share the lessons I learned from all of my shopping hits and misses.
1. Add to cart early. Don’t browse on the day of the sale or you will end up making erratic purchases. Looking at those flash coupons that are expiring in a few minutes will make you do snappy shopping decisions. Stick to the plan: only those you’ve added to the cart early, the ones you really want and need. If the price drops at midnight of the sale, then go for it. Use the free shipping and cashback or discount vouchers.
2. The double-digit sale isn’t always the best sale. I learned that sometimes the payday sale (every 15th and 30th of the month), the one that consumers pay less attention to, gives better deals.
3. Don’t get too excited about the markdown price. I hope you already know that when a store puts slashed-off symbols to make it look like the price dropped, it’s just a marketing ploy. That sale price is often the real price. Worse, sometimes they increase both the original price AND the discounted price on the 12.12/11.11/10.10 sale. For example, you see a lipstick listed as P199 on the 12.12 sale, slashed from the supposed original price of ₱299. In reality, that lipstick really is P199 on regular days, sometimes ₱180. That’s why it’s best to add to cart early (see #1) to see the yo-yoing of prices.
4. Use Shopee Pay. I don’t understand why our culture is so scared of credit cards and the like. I know many people who insist that COD (cash on delivery) is the safest, best way to go. That’s not always the case. I always top-up my Shopee Pay. Shopee Pay users get more vouchers, such as free shipping, cashback (coins), and discounts. The vouchers for COD customers are limited and get used up fast.
5. If you’re buying in bulk, you can bid for a lower price. First, add the item to the cart, including the number of items you want. Go to the private chatbox of the seller, click plus (“+”), click “offer,” then “make an offer.” For example, if the bottle is ₱100 each and you’re planning to buy 100 pieces, try making an offer of ₱80 each. Think of it as haggling in Divisoria. The seller can make a counteroffer. When both parties agree, the seller will change the price button just for you. Ta-da!
6. Don’t get engrossed with the games and free daily coins. Shopee will tempt you to “check-in daily” while rewarding you with 10-50 centavos per day, along with several addicting games that will make you think you will get so many coins. Even if you check in daily, play all the games every hour every day of your life, you will get an average of 20 coins (₱20) per month. Please get a life instead. I love shopping on Shopee, but this part is not worth losing your time and sanity.
7. Take an unboxing video of every package. In case there’s a missing, defective, or wrong item, a video is your strongest evidence. Take photos and a detailed video of everything, from the sticker label, waybill, and package before unboxing, to the meticulous removal of the bubble wrap, down to testing the item fresh from the box. It’s best if the video has no cuts! I once received a package with a missing item. When I filed for a refund, the seller insisted I was lying and asked for an unboxing video as proof. I didn’t have one because I didn’t know about this unofficial rule. The Shopee agent even asked me to send a photo of the waybill, which I had already thrown away. I had to use legal jargon and went batshit crazy on the customer service person before they approved my refund via Shopee Pay.
8. Don’t click “received” until you’ve fully reviewed and are satisfied with the product. When you click “received,” it means you’re satisfied and you’re releasing the final payment to the seller. It will be near impossible to get a refund after that. That’s why there are a lot of angry one-star reviews—they’re usually the customers who clicked “received” without reviewing first and couldn’t file a proper refund. Customers who get proper refunds cannot make reviews.
9. If you’re getting a refund, do it the proper way. File it through the “return/refund” button in your order details instead of sending an angry private message to the seller. Fill up the proper refund form and include the video unboxing as proof. Wait until the Shopee customer service agent resolves it for you. When you win the refund case, Shopee will send you the refund automatically via Shopee Pay. Do not accept offers from the seller to return your money via G-Cash, store credits, and other outside transactions. That’s usually a scam. They just want you to cancel the complaint and they will never send you the G-Cash amount or credits promised. For return options, you still have to go through the app.
10. Take each review with a grain of salt. Many customers are excited to get the free .40 coins (40 centavos, geez!) as a reward for making a review, so they fill up the reviews with useless lines like “Di ko pa na try, sana tumagal!” (I haven’t reviewed the item, I hope it lasts!) and “Di ko pa nabubuksan, gusto ko lang ng coins” (I haven’t opened the package, I just want the free coins). Then instead of posting helpful photos and videos, they attach a photo of their thumb and a video clip of their favorite K-Pop group. What a waste of internet space. Learn to decipher useful reviews from useless filler reviews.
There are also sellers who will send you a flyer that says “Give us a 5-star rating and get chance to win an iPhone in our monthly raffle!” That’s a load of crap. There is no raffle and you will never win a free iPhone. They just want to fill up their account with 5-star ratings that they don’t deserve. Review as honestly as possible. Include real photos and videos to help other customers.
11. Check the price in their other shops. If you’re not in a hurry, you may compare the prices listed in the shop’s other e-commerce accounts like Lazada and BeautyMNL, as well as their official website and social media accounts. Sometimes it’s cheapest in Shopee, sometimes in Lazada, and sometimes on their website.
12. Pictures lie. All shops post the official catalog photos of the items, especially those knock-off shops that sell cheap, copycat versions. It’s best to check real customer photos and videos in the review section. There you’ll see how the packaging and product really look like. Pay it forward by posting your own honest reviews and photos of your purchase. If you’re extra cautious, go to Shopee Mall for authentic items.