Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Review: Rakuten.com Online Shopping Service

Hello guys!
I'm back with a vengeance parcel.

Life has been pretty great so far in Manila! But last week I've been bored and looking around for something to do in our place aside from checking out new music, talking to my family via LINE, reading what's left of my books, playing 3DS, sketching. Sometimes I get the itch to try something new.

So... RAKUTEN (lol I don't get it why I landed here, too.)

Rakuten.com online order

Have you tried ordering at Rakuten? There's not a lot of info on ordering from here compared to other sites like Sasa.com, Adambeauty, Yesstyle etc., but I found out that prices here are quite cheaper than all those sites!

I've only previously ordered internationally via Sasa.com, HK's biggest online shop. So here's the rundown:

RAKUTEN vs. SASA.COM

Ease of use: It's easy peasy to order at Sasa.com, very straightforward, and almost 100% English; Rakuten.com needs a lot of getting used to. Registration forms are a little daunting to fill, too. I've encountered several error messages (in Japanese, no less!) and if I couldn't read Hiragana/Katakana I would have been at a loss. Product descriptions may also be displayed in Japanese, or only broken English at best, which is sometimes really annoying.

Product availability: Rakuten.com is more substantial in their Beauty, Cosmetics section since it has a lot more sellers that offer a variety of products, whereas Sasa.com is the seller itself (we're pitting them as fair as possible here since Sasa.com is exclusively skincare/cosmetics/accessories)

Price: Rakuten wins hands down. Well that's stemming from what products I could compare! For instance, a 30ml Kose Suncut SPF 50+++ is priced at P215 ($5-6) at Sasa.com, while at Rakuten.com it's P170 ($3-4).

Shipping: There's only one shipping method used, and that's EMS. They have a "per-gram" shipping chart to guide you on what shipping fee to expect. I understand why EMS gets a bad rep for being one of the most expensive courier option. It's my first time, too, to try EMS on my own but I've never been happier and more content!

Look at me with my parcel containing my Rakuten online order. Happy face not in picture! :(

My online order from Rakuten arrived

It was shipped wayyyyyyy faster than the international online order at Sasa.com (and even that other batch of order in our Sasa.com parcel with my former co-workers) but it was probably because we took advantage of a free shipping promo (for completed transaction worth more than $230 / PHP3,000) we didn't know that the free shipping option used the HK mail delivery (2-3 weeks depending on your location), rather than EMS expedited shipping (7-10 business days).

I've set my trust on Sasa.com for good service / successful deliveries, so I needed to build trust with Rakuten, too.

So, I ordered face wash!

Yep.

(But- but- but- it's not an ordinary face wash! It's my favorite Japanese face wash in the WORLD huehuehuehue!)

I just mainly wanted to try out Rakuten first without spending too much and getting disappointed if the service turned out sucky. Imagine forking over $200 for bad service, product disappointment, or worse, the probability lost parcel?! (Try as I might, I could NEVER locate my Sasa.com parcel with the tracking no. that they gave me) So to try Rakuten out, I needed to start with something small.

Luckily, I found that my favorite face wash, Rohto Shirochasou Green Tea Foam was being sold by a seller in Rakuten for $4 (!!!) It made me go "WOAH GETTT!!" In the brick and mortar stores here in the city, a tube of this costs about $10 (wtf ripoff) and I almost bought it, too, when I worried about running out of this face wash that my sister gave to me 3 months ago upon her arrival from Japan.

rakuten beauty goods
Um, thumbs down to too much bubble wrap. It's not environmentally friendly ~.
Here's the face wash. These are really good. I never feel clean if I don't use it after I get home from work. And for some reason I get the feeling these are my only defense against pimples / ravaged face.

Rohto Shiro chasou green tea face wash

I get barely 4 hours of sleep most days of the week, eat at erratic hours (if I get too absorbed at work, I skip lunch / dinner time altogether which has happened more times than I could count. My breakfast is usually only Fruit Loops, or a piece of wheat bread, weak green tea, or milk) and I'm exposed to all kinds of pollution since I walk to and from work. Cherry on the disaster cake: I work nights.

Rohto Shirochasou face wash

Below is a snap of my tired, worn-out and almost depleted Rohto Shirochasou.

Rohto Shirochasou green tea wash

This was given to me 3 months ago from big sister (It should last for a long time but me and Greencross use it 2-3x daily.) My sister wanted me to try a new face wash after giving me the Hada Labo Tamagohada face wash. We're both big on face cleanliness! I'm lucky she understands my need to have a clean face. Because pretty face "<" clean face yeah!



It's relatively the same as any online shop. You search / choose your product, click on Add to Cart, then proceed to Checkout when you're ready to pay!

Before you pay, you're going to be asked if you have an account (if you haven't logged in) or if you want to register. When processing my order, I actually didn't register on their site. I just used the Non-Member option:

I encourage you to actually register for an account. They have these points system that gets you rewards and freebies, I guess. But using Rakuten as a guest, it will be more or less smooth sailing. I filled out their online form for shipping and payment details. And also, I used a credit card, so I can't say if other payment methods are more tedious.

VERY IMPORTANT THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW BEFORE ORDERING:

  • If ordering multiple items, make sure that you're buying from ONE SELLER. I cannot stress this enough. If you buy X product and Y product from 2 different sellers, you're going to have to fork over 2x shipping, d'oh! I almost made that mistake.
  • Here's the thing about shipping fees: It gets added to your total bill right, so you won't actually know yet the actual shipping costs even once you close the deal, you just rely on the seller to finalize and give you an invoice in the form of a Rakuten seller's email. The bad thing about this is when you're doing bulk purchase and there's a lot of items there and you're gonna have some surprise at the end of the transaction about total weight in grams. The good thing is that sellers stick to the "shipping fee guide" chart (from earlier), and my personal experience with the seller, they are quite honest and won't jack up the shipping fee.
  • You will be charged immediately upon order finalization, even BEFORE the seller confirms your payment / processes your order.
  • You will receive 3 emails. First is for confirmation that you have voluntarily made a transaction on Rakuten, this gets sent upon finalizing checkout payment methods. The second one is your total bill with detailed weight check and final price check. The final email should then include the EMS details, like tracking code
And yes, all of the emails are in JAPANESE:



Don't fret. There is no need to reply. But if you have a question, you will not be able to talk to the Rakuten customer service contact center; You have to directly message the seller. All dealings are between the buyer and the seller.

In the email, all you just need to confirm are the personal details that you previously entered (name, address, total bill, credit card number, etc.). Or that's what I did anyway. Better yet, you could use a Chrome browser to enable the auto-translate feature to decrypt Japanese characters to English (broken English, but NEVERTHELESS, it's English! 仕方が無い! Can't be helped, ok?).

So you can see there in the Email images I screencapped for you, that I processed the order July 25 11:20 AM, and I received the parcel in good faith on July 30, 11:59 AM!!!! And delivered to me straight to our condo (I paid PHP PHP70 to the post man ---PHP50 for the customs fee, PHP20 as a tip.)

All in all, despite my irritation at Japanglish / Engrish product descriptions and random Hiragana/Katakana/Kanji error messages, I thought that for the first try, Rakuten certainly delivered!

Thanks for reading!
Let me know if you have any questions by commenting below!

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Life: Cheap ways to have fun

I don't have friends here in Manila yet, and it's hard to find kindred spirits if you keep odd hours and don't get out as much. Staying in during the Saturdays and Sundays don't do me good because I always get restless; I mean, hey, I have every reason to look forward to the weekend--I'm on the night shift team and it's not always really great at the office because work is quite intense! I think I deserve some fun, light-hearted things to do!

The only thing is I hate spending too much. Seriously, I get the hives when I spend a lot on non-essential things in life. Greencross is considerate enough to always take me somewhere, even for a walk around the block, or to the nearest mall and eat some ice cream. In this city where exorbitant living is required to have fun, we're breaking the mold and pushing the envelope in the attempt to have good, clean fun without breaking the bank!

Here's some nice things I enjoyed over the weekend:



Eiga Sai 2013 - Free event! This annual event sponsored by The Japan Foundation, Manila has always been a tradition for me and my friends back in my hometown. This year, I have Greencross to accompany me (but I'm no stranger to watching the big screen alone, as pathetic as that may sound haha!) and went to Shangri-La Plaza.
My favorite movies from Eiga Sai 2013:
* Confessions
* Rinco's Restaurant
* Mai Mai Miracle (Animated)
When we got to Cineplex, there was some guy who was being a big asshole, pushing his way in in the most gruff manner to get inside the cinema immediately. I felt really sorry for the guard and attendants who were in his way. How vexing, and how utterly rude!

Grocery Promos - We do quick grocery shoppings during the weekends for our weekly food staples. Though we shop at an upscale mall, we always do our best to keep the things we buy as cheap as possible! It's always a happy time for us to do the groceries. It's also fun to shop at Rustan's because there's so many "free taste" things and promo activities, too.

Last Saturday, there's was the Oreo Challenge promo (which wasn't so much as a challenge, really.) and I won some Oreo cookies and Oreo notepads. It made me happy hahaha! Here's a collage from photos taken by Greencross:

image

Last Sunday was a bit of a downtime for me, because I was quite beat for some reason. I wasn't feeling very chirpy but I guess it happens. I looked at Greencross engrossed in his game and was envious that he has Guild Wars 2 to enjoy and I didn't (I have a character but we only have one PC so most of the time he plays)! All I got are some cutesy games so I was feeling like I needed something fun, too!

Play On! Bought a Video game: I've missed playing videogames SO MUCH. These past few years it's all MMORPGS, but they don't have the same quality as platform RPGS (single player ones, yeah I'm a lonewolf like that (/////_-) lol!) I may not have a PlayStation or an Xbox unit anymore, but there's always the 3DS! I've decided on Fire Emblem: Awakening for a month now after having played a demo version; I was just waiting for the right time to strike (read: price drop!) But the need to grew too much for me so yeah, I got this brand new spankin' cartridge!

image

It's not very cheapskate with the price tag of P1,750 BUT! It's hours upon hours of gaming, sidequests, character development, awesome dialogue, adventures, frustration, happy things and such! And if gaming reviews are not mistaken, Fire Emblem: Awakening has an amazing "replayability" to it! So yeah, I'm excited for that. I really, really miss video games.

So that's it! My weekends are pretty eventful around here, if you're to call it that. I'm a simple girl of simple means or maybe mababaw lang kaligayahan ko, but yeah, any excuse to have fun and enjoy the good things in life is what I love best!

Thanks for reading~
See you next post!

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Food: Oishi Choco Chug Oaties Milk Drink

Hello!

I'd like to share to you my new favorite chocolate drink. There's lots of competition in the market, but for me this is THE BEST drink that I've ever tasted and I thought that I should share this to anyone who reads this post; random people looking for really good chocolate drinks!

I saw this Choco Chug chocolate milk drink in SM Megamall last week while we were doing groceries and Greencross put it in our cart immediately after seeing the glint in my eye! I haven't seen't this choco drink before, maybe it escaped my notice because I was looking at the opposite aisle where my favorite milk is usually placed.


We just opened it last Wednesday and I keep on opening and closing our little refrigerator cox it is soooo good! Look, it has a little portion on the top box that makes it immediately superior to any prepackaged drink: You mark the "cup" according to which date you opened it. I marked the Wednesday cup!


Pretty helpful if you don't want to chug down stale drink. Then again, if you're like me, this will not last a week. (I had to keep myself from finishing it in a day.)

The 1-Liter pack costs about 69.00 which is way LESS than the other, popular brands of choco drinks. And apparently, it has finely ground oats!

Hmm, really? I didn't know "oats" can be drink-able, technically.

A rice measuring cup is superior to any mug! 



Apparently, some awesome magic can turn oats into pure, silky chocolate drink! It is really as smooth as it looks! No particles detected! It was so creamy and chocolatey but maybe because of the finely grained oats, it has that "full body" feel that you don't get when it's just water, choco powder and milk!

Ok, just because it is oats, and oats have lots of good things in it, doesn't automatically translate that this is a health drink. Maybe they can claim that they're healthier than the regular drinks, but I'm sure not by how much?

I'm too concerned about quelching my chocolate craving to think even think about "healthy" things! But for anyone who might be interested, here's the Nutritional Facts:


And following that, the ingredients list, of course. Notice that instead of suggars, there's Maltodextrin instead. I don't know it that's a good thing or a bad thing.


Oats is in the Top 5 ingredients, so I guess there's a lot of oats in there!

You know, this is really good. I finished what's left in the carton today! I'm posting this as I chug the last drop. And yes, definitely buying as a weekly treat for us!


Let me know if you can recommend me other awesome drinks like these; Or if you'd like to share your favorite drinks too--chocolate, vanilla, coffee or whatever! What's your "weekly treat"?

P.S.
The carton has been recycled to be used as one of my "herb pots"! Next post, I will share about my new acquisitions: Potted herbs! How cute are those? I have 3 now!

See you then!
Take care~