Saturday, November 14, 2009

Review of Amiami

Just received a shipment notice from Amiami for the item I ordered. The long wait for my package to arrive starts now. Amiami is one of the Japanese based online hobby shops I’ve been lusting to start selling overseas because of the large inventory that they have, and most importantly, the low prices they offer.

Thankfully my prayers have been answered as they announced recently that they will begin catering to the overseas market. Soon after that they also announced that they are starting to ship items overseas via Registered SAL on a trial basis. Which was good news because the EMS method, though quick, is quite expensive.
Amiami has long been putting their items on discounted pricing on a regular basis, versus other online shops who do it seasonally. And its not just their regular items, even items up for pre-order have huge discounts attached to them.
This is one reason why they are recognized as a power house in the online selling market. Maybe its also one reason why they don’t have a points system in place which customers can use to knock off the price on their next purchase? Because their prices are really low already. Amiami carries a varied array of toy and hobby related merchandise. From figures, model kits, tools, DVD’s, Software, Dolls, trading cards, clothing wares, books, manga, etc.
Amiami’s payment method is limited to Paypal only. But at the Paypal site, once you have to pay for your order, you have the option to pay directly via credit card without having to sign up for an account. Shipment also is via EMS, but they are now currently offering Registered SAL shipping. To avail of this shipping method, you just have to put “Request for SAL Registered shipping if possible” in the comments section when you are paying at Paypal.
Its no guarantee though that the item will be shipped that way as I had experienced. Twice I emailed their friendly email support on whether an item I wanted to buy was possible to be shipped by SAL and twice I was declined because the item’s dimensions exceeded the “90cm threshold” for SAL Registered. Which surprised me because I didn’t experience that problem with HWJapan. All the items I bought were able to be shipped by SAL. Oh well, it must be a Tokyo postal thing (HWJapan is in Shizuoka while Amiami is at Tokyo Prefecture).
Amiami actually recommends that you email them first with regards to how much the shipping cost of that item will be before checking it out of your cart. For the 3 times I’ve sent them an email as to how much an item’s shipping would cost, the longest response time I had from them was a day. Which was good enough as compared to some online shops that I won’t mention here *snicker*
Purchasing an item is quite easy. First you have to sign up and register, then follow the standard fare of going to the “Cart” and hitting “checkout” once you are sure of your order already. Once you hit checkout you are given the chance to confirm whether the shipping address is correct. After that you get a order acknowledgement email from Amiami Thanking you for your purchase and providing you with the details of your order a long with the confirmation number.
Eight hours later I got a confirmation email from Amiami telling me that my item was available and how much my shipping would cost. Now here is the part I hate, Amiami doesn’t send you a payment invoice from their Paypal account which conveniently has the breakdown of the items and shipping so all you have to do is sign in at Paypal and press the pay button. Instead they ask you to send “this” amount of money to their paypal email address as well as add your order id to the comments section. This is the same method that HLJ employs. The reason I’m not too fond of this method is because the chance to make a mistake in sending the wrong amount and to the wrong person is very high.
A day later I got an email telling me that my item had already been shipped and this was the tracking id. The problem with this email was that in place of the tracking number they put in my order id. Somebody is sleepy. Since its the weekend I’m guessing they won’t get back to me yet with an answer. Update: I was wrong, they got back to me today telling me that they’re still working on their “templates”, hence the mistake on the shipping information sent to me. And they requested “to please bear us” as they set up their system. Great customer service :D .
Based from my experience to this point with Amiami I was impressed with the service they offer but they still need to work on some minor things to make the overall experience great.
Number one of course is the shipping, hope they make the SAL shipping permanent and reduce it further still (at least they were honest enough to admit that they tack on 700 yen as a handling fee to the shipment cost). Second is I hope they automate their payment process by creating invoices in their paypal account when requesting for payment from customers. Third is the inventory, they should hurriedly transfer the stock they have in their Japanese site to their English site. There were a lot of items available in their Japanese site that wasn’t in their English site. I also experienced the problem of the item suddenly being sold out, guess a lot of overseas customers decided to wipe out their inventory already. Wish they’d also add more pictures to their product pages so that I don’t have to look it up at Hobby Search all the time *snicker*
The thing I love about Amiami is of course the price. Then the quickness with which they processed my order (2 days only). Then the speed of the site, because the pages load quickly and don’t have any sign of lag common in high traffic e-commerce sites. Then there is the category navigation on the sidebar which makes drilling down to the item type you want convenient. From there you can see a stack of subcategories at the top of the product listings, which allows you to filter it further. Some of the filter types include by series, scale, product type, manufacturer, etc. On top of the subcategory filter you can add another filter as to the product classification, whether the item is on sale, pre-order or a new item. The default display of course is to show all products. Then of course there is the support staff who answer your email.
I’m definitely looking forward to purchasing some more items from them in the future and just chalking up their minor inconveniences in their service to growing pains for a site transitioning to the international market.
Amiami’s business name is actually registered as Oh-ami Inc. Their offices are located at Koishikawa, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo 112-0002 JAPAN.

Package arrived last week. Here’s the unboxing pics. Inside, my 1/100 Gundam Arios was snugly fit between some crumpled paper. The good thing about this crumpled paper was that it was formed to actually ensure that there is some padding between the model kit and the box. The padding also covered the bottom of the box. I experienced before from one online seller, wherein the padding covered only the top and sides of the box but not the bottom.

Nestled inside the box inbetween paddings of paper was my 1/100 Gundam Arios. Am looking forward to purchasing from them again after this successfully completed transaction.