Thursday 12 August 2021

Bei Kambing Retail Customers


During my weekend sales gigs, I've come across some really "bei kambing" (naive, innocent, blue-eyed sheep) customers.

When I told them which countries the products are made, some customers remarked they can then get from the factories direct themselves.

I said, "Sure! You can definitely get them cheaper! Although the factories will ask how many 40 feet containers you want to order..."

You should see the blank look in their eyes.

Yup, it flew over their heads...


Then there are customers who like to ask where the distributor/agent showroom is located in Singapore.

They think by going to the distributor direct, they will get better prices than from retailers' showrooms?

I told them confidently, "Sir, this is their address. Feel free to visit their showrooms and then come back to buy from us."

"Why? Shouldn't the prices be lower at the distributors?" asked the perplexed customer.

I patiently explained, "Think about it for a moment. We retailers are the ones selling their products for the distributors. If they undercut us, which retailers will continue to display and promote their products?

Some customers will sheepishly smile as they knew I made sense.

Some practice Trust But Verify - they come back a few weeks later and buy from me. Yeah, I was right! Our prices cheaper...


Of course I understand and empathise.

Not everyone has worked in sales or with supply chain. 

Or have profit and loss responsibilities.

You could be highly educated but you work in academia or at the back office all your lives...

How would you know how the real world worked?

If you are one of those customers, just have the awareness that when you embark on your journey as a fundamental "investor", you do not start at ground zero - you start from negative.

Right off the bat, your fellow cohorts who had more real world experience than you have an edge over you when reading annual reports. 

They can read between the lines and beyond the numbers.

You can either do your best to close the fundamental gap (no, its not taking more courses) by asking your sales or supply chain colleagues out to lunch, or maybe switch to technical analysis instead?

Look, technical analysis is voodoo. Since its voodoo, how can anyone claim to have an edge over others?

And it involves less brain power too. 

Its like looking at ink blots or ice cubes in a glass. We see what we want to see!

P.S.   The only times when distributors have prices lower than their retail showrooms are:

1)  Clear horribly aged stocks that no retailers are carrying anymore. Great for retail customers looking for that "retro" look.

2)  Reconditioned products. When we bought lemons and returned our products to the distributor and got a brand new replacement, have you ever thought where your defective product ended up?

Landlords love reconditioned products. I mean if you are renting out your apartment, you don't expect your tenants to take care of your home appliances, do you?



  1. Thanks for the last point on landlord and reconditioned items! This office-nerd here learnt something new today :D

    1. Kevin,

      Another alternative landlords like is to buy marked-down display sets that showrooms like to clear to make room for new models.

      I often take the time to have a chat with these landlords to get a feel for the rental market ;)

  2. Smol,

    That's why my old boss used to insist that office ergonomic chair warriors be saddled with physical world projects, on top of their day to day tasks.

    Ranging from replacing office furniture or PCs to multi-million dollar renovations and additions & alteration works.

    The fun part is liaising & learning from suppliers, field engineers, designers, project coordinators, architects etc. Wholesalers / distributors do give better discounts for bulk. If not that means your project is not big enough lol.

    The not so fun part is the regular progress (or de-progress) updates & grilling by bosses, and having to write & revise 10 versions of justification papers to directors, CEO, or Perm Sec (for public works) why you need to spend the money in the first place.

    If you're lucky, you only get to be responsible for part of the project, so there's hopefully somebody more worldly-wise on the project for you to lean (I mean learn) from.

    I used to run to a group of retailers for display sets whenever my rental flat needed something.

    Nowadays I just go online & order whatever is cheap enough that meets the specs. :P

    Quite a few appliances & furniture that I only get to see many months later, since it's direct from online order to my tenants!

    1. Spur,

      Yes, the days of brick-and-mortar retailers are sadly numbered.

      I've capitulated for my new BTO replacement flat... Bought quite a few stuffs online too.

      I'm moving to the dark side...

      The most unbelievable thing is that one home appliance I bought is even cheaper than the staff discount from the company I worked for!!!???



      For youths who happens to be reading, that's why we appoint junior managers or those who got "potential" to organise our annual Dinner and Dance.

      Its to test out your organising skills and how well you can work in a team ;)

      If you can't be trusted to organise a D&D event, what makes you think the landowners will trust you to build up that branch office overseas?

    2. Hi SmOL,

      I believed some factories sell direct now because of the online platform allow B2B to B2C transition quite seamlessly. But of course,

      U can't touch and see (except from photos) and u have to wait.

      Is also cheap

      5 sets bedroom, mattress frame side table, make up table for less than 2K ??


      I am a Imaginery landlord hahahahha

    3. Sillyinvestor,

      Of course there are exceptions. Although I would categorise most of them as "online" business models rather than buying direct from factories.

      Dell computers in its old days also sell "direct" from its factories through online ordering.

      Now its business model has changed to include its own showrooms and selling through third-party retailers.

      Would anyone buy from these third-party retailers if Dell is selling cheaper online or at their own showrooms?

      Which means if we want the cheapest Dell computer (1 pc only) we should buy...


  3. TA is nothing more than self-convincing and self-reasoning so that when it goes against us we self-consoling that we have done our best! We can't be always right! :-)

    1. CW,

      Its an imaginary clutch.

      We all feel better thinking we going into battle with at least a penknife than nothing at all!

      Fundamental analysis is a better clutch PROVIDED we know how to value a company ;)

      But judging by the number of retail "investors" waiting to breakeven one day...

      Valuing a business is hard :(

      Never mind even if you took business finance in poly or uni!

      Especially when you don't understand why when you buy direct from factories, you have to buy in BULK?

      Try buying ONE fish from Jurong or Senoko fishery ports next time!

      Technical analysis is something we can easily make up ourselves.

      All the various school of technical analysis are like the different denominations of the same religion.

      We just need the trilogy of price, time, and volume, we can come up with any indicators our imagination can dream of :)

      For the record, I do take a quick peek at charts from time to time.

      Its a bit like me going to Waterloo Street Kwang Im Ma when I'm an atheist.

      I don't believe; it just makes me feel better.

  4. Hi SMOL,

    Personally, I still insist on my path of FA, although I dun question TA.

    We dun need to be good at everything. Focus and constant development on a area and at the same time broadening understanding of others aspect should do fine. ..the worst thing is to fudge between the 2.

    Reading works a lot, although i do not deny the importance of interaction and field works. Reading about behavioural prejudices are one thing, having money in the market is another. U then experincd your own threshold of how much cause sleepless nights and how much is Nia...

    Interaction, well. That's difficult. First of all, how much is your "mentor" willing to share? Assuming he is willing, how much can u absorbs?

    It is difficult to have a meaningful conversation nowadays when a conversation I heard is a repeat of what I read in books or online. For goodness sake, tell me your application of it, even failure of it is fine


    I did try to be mindful and talk beyond the "textbook" once for my audience (not pupils but adults) the feedback I got is I am too confusing and I dun know what I am saying sigh ...

    1. Sillyinvestor,

      You do what works for you!

      Reading fundamental analysis from bloggers in our community, its easy to spot those who bring something new to the table - insights that sets them apart.

      It could be as simple as working in the listed company in discussion, deep knowledge of the industry, years of tracking and researching in that sector, etc.

      Basically, they got SUBSTANCE!

      Then there are those that simply parrots and write summaries of a summary of a summary ;)

      Like that I might as well read the source material instead - which usually is a broker's analyst report.

      Having said that, how many so called retail "fundamental investors" read the actual annual reports and come up with their own analysis???


    2. Hmm ... I have stopped reading annual reports for donkey years but follow all company anouncements for own analysis. Ha ha!

    3. CW,

      That's a given!

      We've only seen your multiple support and resistance charts, never heard you talking the numbers ;)

      Most would associate technical analysis with trading, but you put most retail "fundamental" acolytes to shame - where's their 10 baggers?

      Not bad for a voodoo practitioner!

      Panda and koala bear Panadol addict some more!!!


  5. Hi long time no talk here liao... now really a lot of online items selling home appliances. Only this morning then i know shoppe got sell washing machine cheaper than shop about $200... Don't know can trust or not... 🤣

    1. Sy,

      Welcome back!

      If you dare, there are lots of "savings" buying online than from brick-and-mortar stores.

      Some customers tell me they saved thousands by ordering kitchen cabinets (just provide measurements to factory), chandeliers, floor/wall tiles, and lightings from TaoBao!?

      Get them shipped over here from China, and just hire local contractors to assemble or fix in their homes!

      Reminds me of during secondary school, we provide our own fabrics for tailors to make pants for us :)

      Ordering online is a bit like trading/investing. Sometimes we have happy experiences; sometime we have nightmares.

      Those customers who saved thousands also told they had to learn the hard way too - once in a while you'll get scammed.

      Crash got sound!

  6. Me know some peoplw buy from taobao for their new home. They say much much cheaper than buy from retailer here. Will depend on heng suay also.
    If me, i will ask my contractor settle every local even if more ex.
    Me lazzy mah... also can let retailers here earn a bit😁

    1. Sy,

      Yes, life is sweeter when we eat watermelons, we don't have to eat all the way to the green bits ;)

      I practice TIP - To Insure Performance.

      Life is too short to try to save every cent out there.

      I value time and convenience more at this stage of my life.

      Plus the fact I'm damaged/spoilt as a trader.

      Save here, save there. One bad trade I could lose more than what I've saved! One good trade and I'll make it all back ;)

  7. Hi SMOL,

    From my online shopping spree or *eh hem* research, I also came to realize that buying from the manufacturer's online site/page direct is often time more expensive than the retailer's page. Usually no further discount granted.

    Similarly for booking hotels - book direct with the hotel was more expensive than booking through Agoda, Expedia etc. (??!!) Then think again, it makes sense as what you mentioned.

    1. Rainbow girl,

      You'll be surprised how many man-in-the-street customers riding the ComfortDelgro bus or taxi don't realise this logic or common sense!

      Some are tertiary educated too...

      If we can't get better prices to hotels and tourist attractions, how would travel agents survive???

      That's another reason why most retail "investors" stick with quantitative fundamental analysis.

      How to do qualitative fundamental analysis when you are far removed from the business world?

    2. Hi SMOL,


      Only those who know the ways to run businesses (in practice not theory) can truly understand businesses and do sound qualitative fundamental analysis.

  8. You capitulated.... Hehe.

    When crypto?

    1. Rainbow girl,

      Blockchain is like the internet.

      Cryptos are like the million and one "" companies during 2000.

      Who will survive to become Amazon, Facebook, Google?

      Which will be tulips?

      I've no clue.

      So I stay away. There are other ways to make money.

      I prefer small governments.

      However, I appreciate the power of big governments' DNA to control.

      I doubt any country that matters would allow cryptos to challenge their own Central Bank Digital Currency ;)

      The demise of privately owned cryptos will be their own popularity.

  9. Hi SMOL,

    Some powers may be autocratic. However, being autocratic won't gel so well in some countries.

    That is when gov have to come up with a win-win situation... Make peace.

    Perhaps incorporation or synergism rather than an outright ban?

    1. Rainbow girl,

      If US can ban the possession of gold in the 1930s, what more to say about less "democratic" countries out there?

      Big daddy already put cryptos as highly speculative on their MAS alert list.

      Those Singaporeans that lost money in that local crypto exchange that "run road"...

      Well, they are on their own.

      No need to ban outright.

      Just legislate all crypto exchanges must collect real people real names for the purpose of taxation, most of the trading volumes will fizzle out.

      When cryptos become Hello Kitty collectibles, no govt will care if you willing to pay $100K for it!

    2. Hi SMOL,

      Oh yes, the history... Ban cos wanna de-peg.

      And we know later why gold became more valuable than US currency. :P

    3. Speaking of gold, today is the 50th anniversary of when Nixon took the USD (and the world) off the gold standard on 15 Aug 1971.

      Thanks to that, investors have another asset to speculate on LOL.

      Now is cryptos day in the sun & is the go-to asset for "getting rich quick". :)

      Prior to 1971, the US devalued its currency twice: in 1834, and 100 yrs later in 1934.

      Probably the next big devaluation will be in 2034. :P

      Roaring 2020s to be followed by Great Depression 2030s? Hoho.

      Cash & treasuries were "gold" during 1930s.

      We'll see if cryptos take that mantle during 2030s. ;)

    4. Spur,

      Its interesting when we look back in financial history the relationship between money (gold and silver) and currencies.

      Imagine when China first invented paper money. How to convince its populace that a piece of paper was worth the same as physical gold and silver?

      "Selling" cryptos are as good as gold is not new.

      You think why all the images of cryptos have them looking like gold coins?

      That's how you play with people's minds. All snake oils know this trick ;)

      The USD is on its last legs as the world reserve currency. Just look at how US fxxk up the end game in Afghanistan...

      Most people don't appreciate what's backing up the USD today is its military reach and power. Those regimes that openly threaten the USD were "removed" in the name of "democracy"...

      You're right! I may be around to see the transition to the next world reserve currency.

      Hope I don't miss out this opportunity of a lifetime!

      The 70s were the golden period for Trend Following speculators.

      However, if one of the legions of cryptos out there were to become the next world reserve currency, I think I'm screwed!!!



Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...