Online shopping can be an exciting experience. But sometimes, you could need an item that’s not available in your country or is highly overpriced in the local markets. Here’s when you can use international shopping sites.
Unfortunately, international shopping isn’t as simple as it looks, and if it’s your time, you better be prepared for some hurdles.
That being said, here are some tips for online buying to improve your international shopping experience.
Look for international sites that ship to your country
The first of the tips for international buying is to find out how many international sites ship products directly to your country. Different countries will have different shopping sites shipping to them. And it greatly depends on the country you live in.
If you live in the US or Canada, you’ll find that you can buy from most international sites. On the contrary, many international sites might not ship to countries in Africa, South America, or South Asia.
Keep the transaction value low
One of the essential tips for online buying is to keep the transaction value as low as possible. Every country has a set value of the imported product, and if your product is valued higher than that value, your import will be paired with heavy import duty.
While you might not have a problem in paying for the duty levied on your product, the duty assessment process is cumbersome and may take a lot of time. This can cause unnecessary in the delivery of your product.
One of the international buying tips is to use shopping sites to import low-cost components and accessories that are either unavailable in your country or are overpriced. Another problem you can face with international shopping is regarding warranty.
Although most sites offer warranty features, returning a product back to another country and then getting a replacement might take a lot of time. So, it’s better to purchase products that are less prone to warranty-related issues, such as electronics.
See what’s banned
You can buy guns and alcohol online in the US, but not in most other countries. When you purchase goods from international sites and they move to your country, they are considered as “imported.” Therefore, the same rules for customs restrictions that apply to commercially imported goods will apply to them.
Items like drugs, firearms, and merchandise like cigars are banned in most countries. One of the tips for international buying is to get a better idea of what you can order online from international sites. You can do this by checking out the list of restricted items in your country.
Shop for personal use only
You won’t face custom-related problems in bringing in clothing, blankets, towels, or other personal-use items. However, one of the international buying tips is to make sure your purchases are limited to one person’s use.
If you purchase goods in bulk and it seems like you might be importing them for commercial profit, you’ll certainly run into problems. Regardless of whatever discount you may get on purchasing in bulk, it will be outweighed by the commercial import paperwork and fine you’ll need to pay.
Keep an eye on the foreign transaction fee
If you buy an item from a website from another country, your credit card company may charge you a foreign transaction fee. This fee applies to international sellers selling on local sites as well.
One of the online buying tips is to use a credit card with no transaction fee. Also, inform your credit card company about a foreign transaction well ahead of time, so they don’t mistake it for potential fraud.
Don’t fall for currency conversion
Studies suggest that people are more likely to buy from a store that sells in their local currency. Some stores might offer dynamic currency conversion for international purchases, but it’s an outright trap. So, one of the tips to international online buying is to not fall for currency converters.
They’ll process the transaction in your local currency, but in turn, will charge you a hefty for their trouble. There are a bunch of currency conversion calculators out there, so make sure to do your calculation beforehand. Also, your credit card is likely to offer a lower conversion rate that these dynamic converters.
That being said, conversion rates listed on international websites don’t always indicate the price you’ll pay. The site might use a currency converter, your credit card may use something else, and the same goes with PayPal, Apple Pay, or any other wallet you use to pay. So, there might be minuscule currency fluctuations, and that’s something you’ll need to adjust with when it comes to international shopping.
Choose your way of shipping wisely
How you pay duty on your international purchase depends on how the goods are shipped. If you use the International Postal Service, you’ll pay the carrier as well as the local post office for any duty and processing fees.
Shipping services like UPS, DHL, and FedEx, on the other hand, will bill you for the duty they paid for on your behalf. If you use a freight service, you’ll need to pay for both the services of the custom offer and the duty owed.
One of the tips to international online buying is to make sure you and your seller agree on which of the above methods will be used. If you’re not watchful of how your product is shipped, you’ll end up paying hefty handling and transportation costs, which might even outweigh the value of your purchase.
Getting high on Italian food is obvious, but finding that Italian artisan cheese on the local grocery sites might be a hustle. You can easily order it from an Italy-based grocery website, but the customers and borders protection in your country may seize it.
There are some regulations that prohibit the import of dairy products from certain countries without a permit. Not only dairy, but this can also happen with any product you order from an international website.
In the worst cases, the customs and borders protection might even destroy items that don’t meet the regulations. So, one of the biggest international buying tips is don’t expect everything to go smoothly and be prepared for delays.
One of the biggest hurdles in international online shopping sites is customs and borders regulations. All countries have so many rules and restrictions on international imports that there’s always an uncertainty if you’ll receive your shipment on time or not. The best online buying tips are to shop for low-cost, risk-free items and get them for personal use only.