More often than not, my attempts at online shopping in Hong Kong end in disaster. Who would have thought it would be so difficult (ok, impossible)? The shipping issues…the credit card issues – it’s a nightmare. Most US sites won’t ship internationally (or it’s wildly expensive – which of course you don’t discover until you’re checking out). And if they do ship to Asia, they generally don’t accept a foreign credit card. Some sites register that you’re in a foreign country and even if you’re paying with a ‘local’ credit card will block the transaction (Bloomingdale’s, for instance…grrr). If you share our frustration –and we know you do – you’re gonna be thanking us today…
So you’ve probably heard of MyUs and Bongo – both of which provide international consumers with a US address, allowing those of us overseas the ability to purchase US goods and have them shipped for international delivery. But there’s a few you probably haven’t heard about….including two that will also purchase items on your behalf if you have a foreign credit card…brilliant!!
But you may not realize that most offer huge savings on shipping costs with package consolidation – instead of sending your packages piece by piece if you’re ordering from multiple sites, they give you the option of holding your parcels and bundling them (comGateway will even un-box your orders and repackage them all into one single – sometimes smaller – box).
And the savings can be pretty extraordinary. Check out this comparison from Bongo…
Overall, the fees don’t vary too greatly between the sites. And while some offer shipping on a per-use basis (like Bongo), shopaholics should take note that most offer discounted rates if you sign up for a monthly subscription.
Now…even if you give a US address, some sites won’t accept payments from credit cards without a US billing address. And then there are those sites that see you’re out of the country and block the whole transaction. Shipito and comGateway clued into this and both offer services that make the purchase on your behalf. Shipito’s “Assisted Purchase” option is a bit analog – you send the payment via wire transfer to Shipito who then buy it from the vendor. comGateway’s BuyForMe service, on the other hand, is a bit more seemless – you pay them using PayPal or any credit card and they then arrange to pay the merchant directly. We find the comGateway experience to be particularly nifty – their site offers up a special comGateway side panel on the merchant’s site with your shopping list and shipping info – and in case you can’t use your credit card their BuyForMe option is right there waiting for you.