This might be a bit of a long post given the amount of information and wisdom I have to share with you all. So get comfie and be prepared to absorb all this information!
Whilst many international retailers now offer shipping to Australia, (smart move!) Australian shoppers still face some problems when looking to purchase items overseas. These being:
- There are still great brands that don’t offer international shipping and don’t accept foreign credit cards
- Even places that do ship to Australia have brand exclusions which means certain brands cannot be shipped internationally (and these are usually the brands you want!)
- If you select shipping to Australia, the prices you pay are significantly more than US prices – and I don’t mean just exchange rate conversion, there is a significant mark-up that we pay
So, how do we overcome this and still score a great buy? Use a parcel forwarding/personal shopping services company. I remember 5, 6 years ago, there were only a few companies offering such services but now there’s too many to name. It’s daunting trying to pick one as there’s so many different fees and options to consider. I thought I would do the homework for you and recommend the place I use and trust for all my US shopping..
The website is www.ajummas.com and it’s run by an ex-pat, Hannah, who has been in the US for 9 years now and is super shopping savvy. Here’s a quick run down of services offered:
- Offers a US mailing address for those places that don’t ship international or you want to take advantage of US prices. She’ll also purchase the item for you online if she can get a better deal (i.e. further discounts)
- Offers personal shopping services – i.e. if you need someone to go to the physical store, Hannah will go and make the purchase for you
- Offers US credit card for those places that don’t accept foreign credit cards
- Ship your purchases to you. There is complete shipping flexibility with Hannah (unlike other parcel forwarding services) – you pick the carrier, pick the insurance options, pick a date when you want it by
- Offers consolidation services – i.e. if you make multiple purchases, she will unpack them and re-pack them into one international package saving you a lot in shipping fees
- Offers storage services
- If you are a regular shopper, she will notify you of any great sales/deals coming up – for example, she recently emailed me about a deal where I could get 35% off MAC cosmetics. The deal was exclusive to Hannah and couldn’t get it anywhere else. Needless to say, I stocked up.
Now obviously there are fees associated with these services but I can say they are very much reasonable and definitely cheaper than any of the other parcel forwarding companies. Plus, it’s so much more personalised and she is very prompt in getting back to your emails. Check here for the list of fees.
The other added benefit of using Hannah is that she will offer you some of the perks that she’s entitled to at various retailers as well as imparting her wealth of knowledge in helping you score the best price on products. For example, she receives free domestic shipping at Saks, Bloomies and Amazon regardless of purchase price – keeping in mind that normally you need to spend over a certain amount to qualify for free shipping. Check out her website for more details.
Just to prove a point, here are some of the purchases that I have made with Hannah that either I wouldn’t normally be able to buy online myself or she offered me such a bargain that I couldn’t resist!
1. Alexander McQueen De Manta Tote – Hannah knew I was looking for a large tote and notified me of the Alexander McQueen sale. I managed to pick up this tote on sale – $600 off the original price plus I paid no sales tax. BARGAIN.
2. MAC cosmetic brushes
As mentioned above, recent offer from Hannah – 35% of MAC cosmetics. If you’ve read my previous post about MAC, you’ll know how much more we pay in Australia. One of the brushes I purchased – #190 – retails for $75 in Australia. In the US, it retails for $33 plus I got 35% off that so I paid $21.45. Point proven.
3. LeSportsac Ryan Baby bag
Prints that are out of season usually end up in the LeSportSac outlets and are sold for really cheap. Hannah regularly emails me a list of the clearance styles and prints which are 70% off retail price – that means this Ryan Baby bag only cost me USD$41.40 which is 70% off $138. BARGAIN. I also stock up on bags and cosmetic pouches which make perfect presents.
So I think my point has been made with using Hannah’s services – I have saved tonnes of $$ and scored myself some great deals. Visit her website and email her with any questions you have or you can ask me and I’ll be happy to share more experiences! For those who shop in the UK, I’ll soon post another tip on UK parcel forwarding services.