Want to buy that Barneys handbag, that fancy Saks perfume or those shorts from Nordstrom? Well pine no more -- Australia Post has launched a service that lets you shop online in the States and have your purchases shuttled directly to your doorstep through the Aussie postal service's delivery network.
AusPost's ShopMate service is in a similar vein to Shipito, MyUS and ShipToMe, but rather than relying on international courier services like UPS and FedEx, ShopMate uses the United States Postal Service to get parcels to Aussie shores and then its own network of delivery centres and postal deliverers -- including the excellent postal locker setup that lets you pick up your deliveries from a petrol station, convenience store or after-hours post office without waiting around at home all day.
Once you've created an account at ShopMate, you're assigned a unique US postal address, to which you send the purchases that you make when shopping online at a US retailer -- plenty of which offer free shipping on purchases over a certain value to their continental US customers. Once parcels arrive at your US address -- actually an Australia Post-associated logistics warehouse -- it's catalogued, and then forwarded onto you in Australia within 5-8 days once you make a Customs declaration and pay the associated fees.
It's very interesting to see Australia Post getting into the burgeoning online purchasing game. With the internet putting international stores within easy reach of potential customers in Australia, and many online stores offering more affordable prices to US buyers than Australians, it's not surprising that Australia Post wants a cut of that revenue. At the moment, competing freight forwarders are using couriers like UPS and FedEx to send parcels from US warehouses to customers, and the costs for especially bulky or heavy parcels can be prohibitively high.
On the face of it, though, ShopMate doesn't look like it offers especially good value. A flat rate of $24.95 is charged per parcel delivery, and a weight rate of $5.95 is added per 500g of parcel -- that means a 3kg box for a pair of sneakers will cost you a full $60.65 to transport to Australia, likely destroying the cost advantage of buying overseas in the first place. While competitors like Shipito are likely better value overall, the AusPost name might be a draw for some buyers. [Australia Post ShopMate]