(This article was first published on theAARONLOY)
So, here’s a quick little back story: I was looking for a supplement call Alpha Lipoic Acid from Now Foods. I spent a few days running around looking it around Singapore in the usual stores like GNC, Watsons and Guardians. Finally found it at Nature’s Farm.
Whoa. I thought, maybe it’s one of those super high quality product that’s super hard to manufacture. But then I wondered if it were cheaper online.
And that’s how I found iHerb.
Cheap shipping to Singapore. US based. Sounds good so far. Then I checked the price of the product I was looking for… approximately SGD$26, or about SGD$31 if I were being thickheaded and shipped 1 bottle of it alone.
What. The. ****.
Here’s the thing; It’s not like it’s a savings of 10, 20, 30, or even 50%. With shipping, I was paying less than half of was being sold for locally. It was technically a 70+% discount.
Needless to say, I’ve been a huge fan of iHerb ever since, and that was back in 2010.
Supplements, Organic Products, Variety and Price
Over the last few years, iHerb has not only become the go-to store for my family’s supplement needs, but it’s also an organic grocery store as well. True, it’s not practical for fresh organic produce like vegetables, but it’s great for packaged products like organic dried herbs, spices and essential oils.
You can even find things like organic shower gels, shampoos and chocolates here. Supplements for babies and pets are also available, and as always, prices are extremely competitive
when compared to local stores. Nah, I was being lenient. When I said ‘competitive’, I actually meant that it blows the local competition out of the water.
Even local online stores like Fitlion and Nutrifirst can’t compete. After all, unfortunately, they’re still serving a small market and are bound by the high cost of operations here.
In my experience, prices are usually 30-70% cheaper on iHerb, and those numbers are based on comparisons with the exact same products, just like the example I used earlier about the Alpha Lipoic Acid.
According to iHerb, they’ve got over 600 brands brandishing over 30,000 products in their catalogue. A lot of these brands might be familiar to you as well, and they range from generic companies like Now Foods, Bluebonnet and Simply Organic, to specialty brands like BSN, Optimum Nutrition and Wakunaga-Kyolic.
Pretty sure there’s something for everyone.
Shipping, Cost and Time
One of the main problems with buying from overseas is shipping. I’ve often found that even with companies like comgateway or vpost, shipping usually accounts for at least 20-50% of the total cost. The product might be cheaper overseas, but if the shipping’s expensive, then what’s the point, right?
This where iHerb differs from the competition.
For most international customers, including us Singaporeans, they have 2 popular options:
US$4 flat rate shipping, and discounted DHL. (Now FREE shipping with Singpost for orders above US$40)
The flat rate option, which is now a tie-up with Singpost, has a limit of US$200 value and 6.45 kg, is suitable for most orders. This option offers tracking and delivers within 4-8 working days, with my experience being a consistent 5 working days of shipping time.
A small complaint I have is that if you miss the delivery, you’ll need to collect the package from your nearest Singpost office.
The option by DHL is a little costlier. However, they deliver within 3-5 working days, offers tracking, email/sms alerts and you can reschedule a delivery to your door should you miss the delivery man. It’s extremely affordable too; Orders of US$40 and above get orders get huge discounted rates, so rates start from only US$8.
There’s a 3rd option by UPS, but you can safely ignore it because it’s much more expensive than the 2 options talked about here.
I’ve used both options over the years and none have failed me yet.
Safety and Reliability
I’ve been ordering since 2010 and I’ve had no issues. I guess it’s no surprise it’s now a google trusted store as well as a multi year award winner of ConsumerLab’s top rated online supplement merchant.
The fact that it’s based in America also helps. Salt Lake City, Utah, is known as the ‘Silicon Valley’ for supplements, with many well known brands and white label manufacturers based there. So, unlike products sold on shady blogs and some online stores, products sold on iHerb are approved by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the United States Food and Drug Administration (USFDA) as well.
There’s really nothing to worry about when it comes to the safety and reliability of shopping on iHerb.
Tip – How to Avoid GST
This is one of the things that many Singaporeans don’t appreciate about Singapore – Our ridiculously simple tax system.
All you need is to remember the magic number – SGD$400.
Regardless of where you’re ordering from overseas (legal items of course), if your package value, including shipping, is above SGD$400, it will be subject to prevailing GST rates, which is 7% at the time of writing. If the total is below SGD$400, then no GST payment is required.
A huge variety of branded, high quality supplements and organic products at prices not available in Singapore, even by local online stores.
I mean, they even sell Tiger Balm… but that one can get locally lah.
Singapore’s small size, tiny market and high rentals means that shopping here is usually quite costly. Even if we were able to find cheaper alternatives from overseas stores, the lack of affordable shipping often made it impractical to buy from them.
Luckily for us, this has changed.
With the exception of some products (like Bulk 10kg whey protein, evening primerose oil and tiger balm), there’s actually no reason to buy any supplements or packaged organic products in Singapore.
After knowing this, the only reason to buy locally is that you need it immediately and that you cannot wait 3-4 days for the products the arrive. Or that you’re super altruistic, patriotic and rich and you’re hell bent on supporting local companies only.
Why would you pay more for the same thing right? Go ahead and start shopping on iHerb.
(This article is republished with permission from theAARONLOY)
Remember, there are 4 additional ways to save!:
- 5% Discount: New and existing iHerb customers get 5% Discount with promo code ‘ZEL439‘!
- Just use the links here to auto-apply the iherb promo code, or manually enter it when you checkout
- Free Shipping: Get Free Shipping if the order is more than S$ 80.69 (US$60)!
- 5% Loyalty Rebate: Get an additional 5% loyalty rebate that can be used on your next order within 60 days!
- Avoid GST: Just make sure the total value of the order (including shipping) is less than S$400!