NoQ Store – Widest Selection of Books, Lowest Prices Ever

SPONSORED REVIEW

(UPDATE March 2015: It saddens me to say that NoQ has closed down.)

I’ve been sponsored by NoQ to do a review of their online store. NoQ Store is run by Times Publishing House, i.e. the guys who run Times the Bookshop! It boasts a selection of 14 million titles and the best prices ever.

As an added bonus, NoQ is offering – to you, dear readers – a further 15% discount on your purchases! Use the discount code – AUTUMNFLOODS – when you are at the checkout page and the discount will be applied! (Discount valid until 31 Aug 2014, which means you can use this code repeatedly until then!)

Summary

The Good:

  • Lots and lots of books! Academic books, obscure books, you name it, they’ve got it!
  • More than just books! Stationery, board games, etc… You won’t believe what they have!
  • Super low prices! You can’t find it cheaper anywhere else in Singapore!
  • “Price Guaranteed Programme” – if you do find it cheaper somewhere in Singapore, tell NoQ, and they’ll refund you the price difference!
  • Free shipping for local (SG) orders above SGD$25! They ship to the rest of Asia and the world too!
  • Mobile app with barcode scanner: lets you go into physical bookstores, scan books and compare prices. If it’s cheaper on NoQ, you can make your order with your phone on the spot too!

The Bad:

  • Online web interface doesn’t allow you to easily discover books that might interest you. A lot of book titles are missing book descriptions or reviews. You’ll need to rely on another book discovery service (or online book store) to find interesting books, and then return to NoQ to search and order those titles.
  • Orders take about 7-14 business days to arrive – the same waiting period if you ordered from Amazon or some other bookstore in the US. There’s no express delivery service.
  • NoQ‘s order status page isn’t very informative either. For 7-14 business days, you get nothing but an information blackout. Sure, they tell you that the books have been shipped from suppliers, but you get nothing more than that. The only time you get a lot of information is on the day when the books are in Singapore, and the courier service is making its way to you at that moment.

My Verdict:

  • Despite the long wait and the lack of ability to discover other books, I’ve been won over by the fact that that I get to enjoy a very wide selection of books at low prices and free shipping makes NoQ a very worthy alternative to Amazon and several other online bookstores! I’ve been recommending NoQ to my friends and colleagues!

The Brutally Honest Comprehensive Review

This is my first sponsored review and I’m actually pretty excited about it! Of course, as with sponsored reviews, there is a tendency for readers to approach such reviews with some scepticism. You’re allowed. I will say that here, I will give you the most objective and brutally honest review, as if I weren’t sponsored to do this.

When I was first asked to review their online store, I visited the website and was greeted with a fairly modest web interface.

NoQ Store's Online Store
NoQ’s Online Store

Unfortunately, the web interface didn’t strike me as a very exciting or promising online store. Their book recommendations didn’t excite me either. My first impression was: this is probably just another boring old bookshop.

But as I continued to surf around, I realised I was wrong about my initial impression.

As they say, don’t judge a book – or in this case, a book STORE – by it’s cover.

What changed my mind? Well, I realised I was not finding anything interesting by clicking on the categories. I decided to use the search bar to find the most obscure books possible: academic books and books written by my professors.

To my surprise, they actually do have a wide selection of philosophy and other academic books!

Look at all those Chinese Philosophy books!!! WOW!
Look at all those Chinese Philosophy books!!! WOW!

I got excited. I started searching for all kinds of books that interest me personally (which unfortunately, are not sold in Singapore because they’re rather obscure). And each time I searched, NoQ would actually give me results showing those books that I had in mind!

WOW!

I began searching for other things. Turns out, you can get a variety of stationery and BOARD GAMES too! Amazing!

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Look at that! They have 252 board games available for you to buy! WOW!!! (Info accurate as of 16 June 2014)

 

The best part was, that the prices are really low! Even for academic books, I could get some of these several dollars cheaper than if I were to get it from Amazon. The fact that I don’t have to pay for shipping makes it even better!

But there are some things about the website that annoyed me. For starters, as a philosopher, I was quite annoyed that philosophy books weren’t categorised properly. Many serious philosophy books went under “Self-help” or “Mind and Body.” To make matters worse, many weren’t even categorised, so you won’t be able to find those books unless you used the search bar.

If that’s not all, quite a number of books were missing proper descriptions. And the web interface wasn’t well designed to allow you to discover other interesting books. But it’s a small problem as you can simply go to another website like Amazon and do your book discovery there. It is troublesome, and I wished I didn’t have to do that.

So anyway, I checked out and made my purchase.

I love the checkout page. It's very straightforward and easy to use!
I love the checkout page. It’s very straightforward and easy to use! (Image above for illustration purposes)

I’m very glad that the checkout page is quite straightforward and easy to use. Everything you need to key in and double-check is available in one single glance.

After making my purchase, I waited. NoQ tells you on their website that it takes about 7-14 business days. That translates to about 2-3 calendar weeks, which is the same length of time it’d take me to order books from Amazon or some other online bookstore in the US. So that’s not too bad. But I guess the expectation is that if it’s a local online bookstore, the delivery time should be a lot shorter than that of Amazon’s.

From what I understand, NoQ operates by bringing your goods in from outside Singapore. And when it finally reaches Singapore, they’ll deliver it to you via courier service (TA-Q-BIN, if you’re wondering).

So, for 2-3 weeks, I’ve waited and waited. I got impatient and tried contacting NoQ to ask if they have any additional information to offer. Unfortunately, I got nothing but a standard reply telling me that it takes about 7-14 business days, and that the books are already making its way to Singapore. I was hoping they could at least tell me where my books are coming from, and which part of this planet is it currently at. Nope. Didn’t happen.

Anyway, my shipment finally arrived in Singapore. It’s only when it got to Singapore that I started getting e-mails and SMS from NoQ and their courier service that my order is making its way to me.

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My order has arrived!
I like how their boxes have their logo on it.
I like how their boxes have their logo on it. The box was also designed for books! Well done!

Naturally, I was excited and immediately opened it up!

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I’m very pleased that they took the time to wrap up my book nicely. It’s the attention to detail that makes me so happy about the service!

Pretty cool!

I should also mention that they have a mobile app for Android/iPhone.

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The Mobile App

What I love about it is the fact that the app has a barcode scanner. Did you see the barcode scanner button in the picture above?

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The barcode scanner at work!

It’s brilliant!

Knowing that NoQ‘s prices are super low, I can simply walk into any bookshop, pick up a book, scan its barcode and see if NoQ has it, and if it’s cheaper than the bookshop. If it’s cheaper, I can place my order on my phone! Or, if I wasn’t sure what books to buy, I could just go into a library and do the same thing!

That’s a fantastic feature!

Goods books, low prices, free shipping – they’ve got me!

I’ve placed my second order already and am waiting for it to arrive. I’ll definitely order more from them soon.

In the mean time, I’ve been quite satisfied with NoQ that I’ve been sharing this with my friends and colleagues!

Don’t forget, dear readers, that NoQ is offering to YOU a further 15% discount on your purchases! Use the discount code – AUTUMNFLOODS – when you are at the checkout page and the discount will be applied! (Discount valid until 31 Aug 2014, which means you can use this code repeatedly until then!)