With so many amazing stores overseas and a strong Australian dollar, shopping internationally online has never been more enticing. The trouble many of us run into is that a lot of stores still don't ship to Australia. A couple of years ago this meant you needed a friend overseas to send things to you. But not anymore! The last few years has seen an influx in parcel forwarding services making overseas shopping much easier.
What is parcel forwarding?
Parcel forwarding allows you to have an address - a virtual mailbox - in an international country such as the USA that you can use to send items to from online stores. The parcel forwarding company will give you a customer number and an address to use, the packages are sent to them and parcel then address the package and forward it to you in Australia. Allowing you to order from online stores that don't ship to Australia.
What do I look for in a parcel forwarding service?
With many parcel forwarding services online it can be a little confusing trying to find the right one. Here are a few things to look at when choosing a parcel forwarding service -
* Do they combine packages? Sometimes online stores will send your items in multiple packages, many of the large brands such as Gap, Old Navy etc will send your order in multiple packages that can be delivered a few days a part. Many parcel forwarding companies will only send packages as they are and will not combine packages or orders. This can make your postage fees much higher, combining packages can bring the cost of postage down substantially. So look for a parcel forwarding company that will combine packages to reduce your postage fees.
* Trusted postage carriers - Choose a company who use a trusted postage carrier such as Fedex or DHL. While the United States Postage Service (USPS) can often be cheaper on postage, they can be unreliable and it is not possible to track the item once it leaves the USA. With an international courier service like DHL or Fedex you can track your parcel to your door and you can also have your packages in as little as 3-5 working days.
* Fees - Paying sign up fees or fees on each order can add to the cost of your orders. Avoid parcel forwarding sites that have sign up fees or added fees per order.
* Shop for you services - Some companies ask you to send your order list to them and they will place the order for you. First and they will calculate postage, add a fee on top and email you with a quote. These services are great if you are not sure about ordering online overseas however they do take extra time and have fees added and you may miss out on short sales or specials.
* Virtual mailbox - Choose a company with an online virtual mailbox that allows you to see when your packages arrive and allows you to calculate the postage, combine your items, pay and have them shipped. A system that you are in control makes it quicker and more efficient, not waiting for someone else to process it for you.
Tips when using a Parcel Forwarding service and shopping overseas
* Often the more you order the less postage costs as postage fees are set in weight increments so you can post between a certain amount of kilos for the same price. For example a 1kg order can cost the same as a 3kg order as postage may be calculated for packages - 0-1kg, 1-3kg, 3-6kg etc. So it sometimes works out more economical to wait until you have a large order.
* If ordering larger items, contact the company and ask them to package your order in the smallest box they can. Shipping is calculated on weight and also cubic weight (how much space it takes up).
* Even if an online store ships internationally, check their postage costs. A lot of the time it can be cheaper to use a forwarding service. Compare postage prices and save money.
* Cut down costs by selecting the free shipping option if a store offers this. It can take a few extra days for your items to arrive at the parcel forwarding centre, but it can save you money.
How does it work?
At Lovely Living we have used a few companies and we highly recommend Ship2Anywhere USA they fit everything we look for in a parcel forwarding company -
* Free sign up and no fees!
* They combine parcels into boxes that will help minimize your postage costs
* You have your own dashboard (virtual mailbox) where you can see updates when your parcels arrive, combine parcels, select postage options and pay for them. It gives you full control over your orders.
* They offer 3-5 working day shipping with DHL
* They have an online calculator to calculate your shipping fees.
* They offer assisted purchasing if you aren't confident in ordering overseas. Just give them your shopping list and they will do it all for you for a very small fee.
Using Ship2Anywhere USA is super easy .....
2. Check your email and Activate your account by clicking the link in the email.
3. You will receive an email with your Login details and your USA address. The address is the one you use as your shipping address when placing orders. It's very important to include the number under your name, this is your customer reference number and is used to link your parcels to you.
4. Now you are ready to shop at your favourite stores!
- When you checkout at your chosen store be sure to use the Ship2Anywhere USA address as your shipping address.
5. Once your order arrives you will receive an email saying you have mail. It will display the calculated shipping costs. You can make all of the selections an payments in your dashboard.
- If you are still waiting on mail you can wait to combine the parcels.
- If this is all you are waiting for you can select your chosen shipping option and pay for your shipping using a credit card.
- You also have the option to add insurance on your order.
6. Once you pay for your shipping your order will be dispatched ASAP and you will be emailed with a DHL tracking number to track your order online.
I placed an order with Ralph Lauren and Old Navy. Even though Old Navy ship to Australia I calculated it was cheaper to combine the shipping with my Ralph Lauren order through the parcel forwarding service. I chose the free shipping option from both stores to save a little more.
My Ralph Lauren order arrived at Ship2Anywhere USA and I was emailed, I waited for my Old Navy order to arrive and I combined the packages. It took a few hours for the warehouse to confirm the packages had been combined. I paid for them and was sent confirmation that they had shipped.
Remember I mentioned ordering more can save you money on shipping? Before combining my packages they were around $80 each. I combined them together and shipping was $119 for 3-5 days express for a 6kg package.
My order arrived in 4 days and I now have Cooper's entire winter wardrobe including 2 pairs of shoes.
It's really that simple! Mail forwarding can be a little daunting at first but once you get the hang of it you will open up a whole new world of shopping! But don't tell hubby I told you about this ;)
Happy shopping! Here are a few of my favourite USA online stores -
Visit Ship2Anywhere for more details on parcel forwarding and information on international shopping - www.ship2anywhereusa.com