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SPH portal offers safer online buying sprees - Apr 18, 2008 (ST)

BackApr 18, 2008

The Straits Times / The Business Times News On SPH

SPH portal offers safer online buying sprees

New service will allow S'poreans to purchase items from the US.

By Jessica Jaganathan
Apr 18, 2008
The Straits Times

SHOPPERS banding together for online buying sprees now have a safer way to do this.

SPREE SHOPPING: The SPH service is being operated together with online shopping service comGateway. Photo: WWW.ST701.COM

A portal providing a secure one-stop shopping platform for netizens is being launched today by ST701, the online classified advertising arm of Singapore Press Holdings (SPH), and online shopping service comGateway.

The service - hosted on http://shops.st701.com/spree - lists 600 American online merchants selling everything from clothes to jewellery. Forever21 and Victoria's Secret are among them.

Users first need to register, for free, their name and credit card details, after which they can browse through 10 categories of merchants and their products. They can then place an order with an existing spree or create a new one.

The joint order will be processed when it hits US$195 (S$264) or when the spree has been opened for three days.

Spree shopping, where websites let netizens pool their orders to get big discounts on online buys, has been gaining popularity. A recent Straits Times check found at least 15 active Singapore Internet forums where shoppers meet to pool their purchases.

Most are coordinated by leaders who collect money, then place orders on behalf of the group. When the merchandise arrives, shoppers arrange to collect their buys.

This bulk-shopping method snags them lower shipping costs, which in turn reduce the total cost of the item, but the danger lies in handing money over to strangers.

The new service does away with the need to give one's bank account number to strangers for money transfers to be made.

The service also delivers the item right to the consumer's doorstep, said Ms Elsie Chua, the executive vice-president of SPH's classified advertising department.

Student Ler Ka Leng, 19, who has organised online sprees, is excited about the new service. She said: 'It will help organisers like me, especially when things get hectic and messy.'

She suggested, however, that the three-day cap for orders be extended to five to give people more time to join in.

ST701 and comGateway plan to include more merchants from the US and, eventually, Europe.