Shopping doesn’t only happen in malls. If you’re a long-time reader of The Pink Tarha, you know that I’m also into online shopping. I just love the convenience of shopping online because 1. I don’t have to get out of the house to buy what I want (#anginitkasi #angtraffickasi), 2. I can buy items that are not available here in Saudi Arabia, 3. I can pay even without a credit card (#cashondelivery), and 4. I can shop any time, any where as long as there’s an internet connection. I’ve been sharing our online shopping experiences in this series. If you want to know our experiences in buying from Asos.com, Namshi.com, iHerb.com, Drugstore.com (now Walgreens), Wadi.com, etc. then go ahead and read these entries first.
A few days ago, someone from Vanilla.sa contacted us and asked us if we want to review some of their beauty products. I immediately went online to check what beauty products are available in their website that are unique and not available in Saudi Arabia or the other websites that I frequent. Two brands popped out to me: Frank Body and Sigma Beauty. While the latter is available in the pharmacies here in Riyadh, I’ve never had a Sigma brush even though I get bombarded with their marketing emails from their site. I said yes to Vanilla.sa and they sent us a SR 500 voucher to try their products and service (#disclaimer).
The Vanilla store is a member of the Ecommerce Sea Company, one of the leading online stores in Saudi Arabia that specializes in trends and fashion. It is supervised by a young, passionate Saudi team that travels the world to curate authentic and exclusive global brands and products. The online store has a warehouse in Riyadh that makes ordering and delivery fast. Vanilla.sa offers different kinds of payment and delivery methods and promises a flexible exchange and return policy. The Vanilla.sa website’s format is like most online shopping websites that cater to Saudi Arabia. It’s available in Arabic and English. The store sells authentic and high-quality products; some of them are not always available in the Saudi market. The prospect of getting products not available in Riyadh at a fast pace excited me. How fast it will appear in my “doorstep” is the challenge isn’t it? Well, here’s how my online shopping at Vanilla.sa went:
The website Vanilla.sa looks the same as the online shopping websites in the Middle East. It’s available in both Arabic and English and is categorized properly. There’s the Fashion category for Clothes, Bags, Accessories, and Shoes. Their Beauty category has Perfumes, Makeup, Skincare, and Hair Care products.
They also have a unique Saudi Hands category that supports local Saudi brands by promoting their products and sharing them to the world in a more convenient platform. I suggest you check their Stationery & Home section because these products are great for souvenirs and gifts for loved ones back home. The interface of the website is clean and easy-to-use. We focused on our favorite Beauty section (so we can also review them in our Beauty Bets).
I’ve been reading about the Frank Body brand for quite some time and I’ve been wanting to try their products. Australian brand Frank Body is known for its “Original Coffee Body Scrub”. They offer coffee-vased skincare products that are natural: no parabens, PEGS, or phthalates. No sulphates or silicones, no mineral oils, glycols, DEA or TEA, Not really sure what those acronyms are but what’s important is that they use naturally-derived ingredients such as coconut oil, mint extract, cinnamon, etc. Reina chose the Creamy Face Scrub (SR 149) and I chose the Coffee Body Scrub in Coconut (SR 128). We’re excited to receive and try these!
The second brand that we focused on is Sigma. Beautyholics know how popular the Sigma brushes are. I’ve been wanting one of their brushes for some time and now that I finally have the chance to own one, I grabbed the opportunity! Haha! Sigma Beauty was founded in 2009 as an international online beauty store. The brand quickly grew into a global company with 250+ retailers in over 70 countries. They opened their first brisk and mortar store in 2012 in the US. Their brushes have quite the following from professional make-up artists and beauty gurus. I can’t wait to try their F80 Flat Kabuki Brush, the face brush that catapulted them to fame. It just so happens that Vanilla.sa has it in a pack along with the best-selling Sigma Spa Express Brush Cleaning Mat. The latter is also in my wish list! The Sigma Power Pair is priced at SR 135. It’s a great value pack because the F80 brush alone is already SR 90 and the mat is SR 120. I saved SR 75! And as far as I know, this bundle is no longer available in the Sigma site. Reina went for the Sigma Large Powder Brush (SR 128).
I’m not sure how they calculate the prices of their products though but considering the shipping fees if you order directly online, the difference probably makes sense. For example, the Coconut Coffee Body Scrub is USD 18.95 (approx. SR 73) at the Frank Body website. Shipping fee to Saudi Arabia is USD 14 (SR 53) for a single order. That makes the product SR 126 already. So, not a lot of difference in prices and getting the item faster is a great incentive to buy at Vanilla.sa.
After putting the products in the cart (I was shopping for both of us), the website will prompt for a user registration which was easy to fill in. The steps include Delivery Details, Delivery Method, Payment Method, and lastly, Confirm Order. I just hit a snag when I was at the Delivery Details page when I was entering my address, the dropdown menu for the area is in Arabic even though I was viewing the English version already. I just picked the first option and left a note with my correct address and to ignore what I chose. In Saudi Arabia, modes of payment include payment on delivery (or cash on delivery [COD]), bank transfer, credit card (Visa/Master Card) and Sadad (via ATM). For other GCC countries, credit card is the only option. How are orders delivered? It depends on a customer’s location. Within Riyadh, they have a specific courier while outside Riyadh, FedEx or Naqel delivers. Addresses are confirmed before delivery.
After I confirmed my order, I received an email and a text message from Vanilla.sa. All I need is to wait! And I didn’t wait long because the following day, in the afternoon, I already received a call from the delivery guy that he’s on his way to deliver my order! Wow, that’s fast! According to the FAQ section of Vanilla.sa, delivery takes one to three days in Riyadh and two to five days for those outside Riyadh. This is the edge of Vanilla.sa against the other online shopping stores because they’re based in Riyadh, delivery is really faster especially if the products are already in their warehouse. We just had a hard time talking to the delivery guy because he speaks Arabic only. My Arabic is non-existent while Reina’s is shweya shweya. It’s hard to direct in different languages, haha! (I know, I know, we should have learned Arabic by now!) Anyway, the driver eventually found us and here is our order packed in a nice Vanilla paper bag.
That was a fast transaction all right. Apart from a few snags in their website which can be improved, our online shopping experience with Vanilla.sa is satisfactory. The beauty and skincare products we got were packed nicely and no wear or tear whatsoever. Looks brand new and authentic! I wish they come up with more products that are hard to come by here in Riyadh but for sure, those are in the works already. Of course we’ll review these products soon.
If you’re going to buy anything at Vanilla.sa, use The Pink Tarha code: pinktarha to get a SR 50 voucher. This code is valid for one month! (It’s not an affiliate code so we don’t get anything if you use it.) Happy shopping!
Disclaimer: Vanilla.sa provided us with a SR 500 voucher to use in their website. All feedback, opinions, and comments in this entry are ours.