I feel like it’s that age old dilemma. As the global popularity of kpop has grown over the years, more and more online vendors have sprung up to satiate our needs. It can sometimes be confusing picking which store to go for. What’s the cheapest option? Which gives you the quickest shipping? I won’t be able to definitively answer any of these questions, since those things vary depending on a number of issues, but I can give you my experience as someone who buys a lot of kpop online.
The picture above is part of my kpop collection, and so far I’ve had pretty good luck with my online purchases. But, I remember what it was like at the beginning, when I had no clue which vendors to trust or whether I was being ripped off or not.
Before I go on, I live in the United States (Washington state, to be more precise), so shipping and currency factors are all dependent on that.
Best Overall Option
I didn’t find out about this store until more recently, but I’ve been extremely satisfied with price, shipping time and wonderfully protective packaging ever since. They seem to be a smaller store, so they may not have everything you’re looking for, but they do carry all the new releases a day or two after they come out. It’s where I buy the bulk of my new release albums. For me, the price plus shipping has consistently been the best of any of the Korea-based shops, and shipping time has been pretty fast. I do wish they offered a preorder option, and tracking with the cheapest shipping, but those are small quibbles for a store that has been reliable and cost-effective every time I’ve used them. They also use an insane amount of bubble wrap to ably protect your precious cds!
Bonus! If you create an account using this link, you’ll receive 5% off your first order.
Best Hidden Secret
This is a hidden secret mostly for U.S. shoppers, because of the awesome free shipping on orders over $25. Shipping cost is the bane of international kpop buyers, so a free option is a godsend. Deep Discount isn’t a kpop store, but it carries many, many kpop albums. You’re likely to find most older releases, as well as many new ones, for bargain prices. Better yet, if you check back often, the site offers 10-15% off promo codes sitewide every month or two. Truth be told, I order most of my albums this way if they’re available on the site. Shipping is 3-10 days within the U.S. (usually closer to 10), unless the item is on backorder, which many of the newer ones are. The only downsides is that sometimes packaging isn’t all that great/protective, and I’m not sure if the sales count for Korean charts. Still, for the budget, U.S.-based kpop fan, this is a great option.
Yes Asia was the first store I ordered from. I was lured in by their free shipping, although there is a minimum order of $39 for that to kick in (and like a lot of online merchants, they’re experts at making things cost just a couple cents less than that minimum!). Because of this, it’s not a good option for single albums, but if you’re buying in bulk it can sometimes be the cheapest way to go. They ship from China, and I’ve had good luck with fast delivery here on the west coast. Their free shipping includes tracking as well, which is a nice bonus. The packaging can sometimes be on the lazy side — I’ve had a few albums slightly dented because of this. But, good deals can usually be found on their sale section, and albums are often a bit cheaper during presale. From what I’ve seen in comparison to other retailers, prices are really hit and miss.
I kind of bunch these two together because they function in pretty much the same way (although one gives you freebies with each order… I think it’s Mart?). Prices look really cheap at the outset, but shipping is expensive. I’ve ordered from both and been satisfied, though I find that sometimes it takes them forever to actually ship something. In fact, my latest order from K-Pop Town took over a week from ordering to shipment! Add shipping time onto that and you could be waiting awhile for your order. I like that you get voucher money each time you place orders, which can be used for future purchases, but even with that there are usually cheaper, faster options available.
I visit their brick-and-mortar store every time I’m in L.A., but I don’t think many people realize that they have an online presence as well! They’re usually a bit on the pricey side, though I’ve scored some great deals through their ebay site. The nice thing is that, since they’re U.S. based, shipping within the United States (especially the west coast) is very quick. I received a free fan when I ordered with them, which was kind of a fun surprise. Plus, it’s nice to support local(ish) kpop stores.
I’ve used ebay here and there, and it can be a good option for single purchases, but it’s very hit and miss.
Stores I haven’t Used (but might be good?)
This seems to be a preferred option for many people, but I’ve never used it simply because every time I add orders to a cart, they end up being more expensive than other retailers. Plus, I just find their website clunky and not very professional looking. But it seems to be some kpop buyers’ go-to store, so they must be doing something right.
Here’s a hot take: Amazon
Returns are hassle free and delivery is fast
The funny thing is, I don’t think Amazon even really sold K-pop back when I wrote this post. Shows how much things have changed in seven years!