Singapore's Sim Lim and Why the Best Tech never make it to Walmart

On my visit to Singapore, I usually stop by the famous Sim Lim Electronic Shopping Centre. This is usually a great place to see what the future holds for technology. The thing about Sim Lim is that you can never expect to see fair prices. It is definately "Buyer Beware!" when you go there. Here is a good guide for shopping there. If you do your research, you can usually find good deals. But if you impulse shop, you usually can find yourself paying hundreds of dollars above the market price of a product. Ok.. I admit I got ripped off there.. :(

Walking around Sim Lim, you will see technologies that will never make it in America for many years... if ever.. I often find myself asking, why aren't these superior technologies selling like hotcakes in the USA? I believe the answer isn't in the value of the technology, but in the economics of the supply chain of how these technologies make it (or never make it) to the retail store shelves. If folks in Ohio don't see it on the shelf at Best Buy or Walmart, then they are never likely to buy it. Even if a few entrapenurs manage to get these products into online stores or eBay, the customer will never feel "right" until they "see and play with" the technology. The power lies with the retail buyers and distributors. Their interests are profit margins and vendor relations with the big companies (such as Sony, Panasonic, Hitachi, etc..).

One example is a set of portable speakers for my iPod. I found a terrific set of speakers from Sonic Impact Technologies which serves all my needs. The price of these speakers? $19usd!! If I go to Best Buy today and look for the lowest price portable speaker, I would find Sony's speakers for around $89usd. That is a $70 difference in price. I tried both, and I didn't much improvement in the quality of the sound than the 3-4 times the variance of the cost. I actually think the cheaper one sounds better with less batteries required. The buyer at the large Electronic Retail chain does not care so much about the improved quality, they care more about how that product will make them money. If they make a 3-5% margin on a product, they will make $2.67 on the Sony Product and only $0.57 on the Sonic Impact product. Further more are the kickbacks, Sony probly pays big bucks to have their products positioned in prominate locations on the store shelves and in their weekly advertisements. This probly earns the retailer (let's say) $100,000 per month which they can offset their advertising budget. So what we see here in America when we go to the Electronic Mega-Store, we see only a small portion of the products available to us.

So what does this mean to a techie nerd like me? This means that unless I stumble across a better product, I'm likely to only buy what is available in front of me. I'm sure I could seek online reviews, but how much of that is actually artificially skewed towards advertisers? If I go online, and I seek those Sonic Impact speakers. I can find them at Amazon.com only if I know what I'm looking for a particular item. ( Here is the listing for the speakers) If I tried to browse around for cheap speakers, I would never find the product. As they say in Las Vegas.. The odds are always in favor of the house!

Comments:

Hi I am in Singapoe currently and I would be extremely grateful if you could tell me which shop in Sim Lim did you get the Sonic iPod speakers. If you cant remember the shop, even the floor level will do. I do not go around there as much as I would like to. But I have been looking for a good set of iPod speakers for a cheap price :). I am glad I saw this post. Thanks

Posted by Deepak Jois on October 05, 2005 at 11:53 AM PDT #

For those visiting Sim Lim in Singapore, you should visit the following website first: http://www.hardwarezone.com.sg/priceguide/ That way you can check prices so that there is less chance you will get ripped off. And ALWAYS check the final product in the box before you leave the shop, to make sure it is a new item, and the item you paid for. Things are much much better than they used to be, but there are still those places which will try to pull the wool over your eyes.... /DP

Posted by DP on October 05, 2005 at 02:01 PM PDT #

How often do you go to Sim Lim? Could you verify that this business is there and the iPods are genuine? Excellindo Computama Pte Ltd SImlim BB 9 #89 Singapore SG 980237 Singapore 65 - 817 – 82565

Posted by Chinggis Enterprises on October 07, 2005 at 01:30 PM PDT #

In all these years, having bought a lot of products there, I have not been ripped off. I will say that, sometimes, some of the more aggressive salesmen there will tend to target 'obvious' tourists and rip them off. It is unfortunate but it happens. For tourists, I would advise them to try places with published pricelists. It is a lot safer this way as these pricelists are mass-printed or photocopied. There isn't a 'special' for tourists. Try Videopro. http://www.videopro.com.sg Their prices are usually amongst the most competitive in the complex. Incidentally, there is Sim Lim Square which mainly sells computer products and Sim Lim Tower where you find electronic components. Two different places with different product mixes.

Posted by Chuang Shyue Chou on October 09, 2005 at 05:34 PM PDT #

hi. everyone told me that it's better to buy electronics at sim lim. i want to know how much an apple ipod nano 2GB and 4GB is. thanks.

Posted by anne on May 14, 2007 at 10:37 PM PDT #

If you are looking for a new iPod, you would probably do better to just go to the Apple Store in Singapore. This way you can get the Apple Service at the same time. Believe me.. the Apple Service is worth it when the iPod doesn't work anymore (usually they just replace the unit.) At Sim Lim.. Look at fake iPods. I saw some in Bangkok that looked exactly like iPods, but they are MP3/MP4 players. In one aspect, they are better than iPods in that they support regular Radio broadcasts.

Posted by Jonathan on May 16, 2007 at 04:45 AM PDT #

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