Australia Post has launched a service that will potentially allows us to slash the price of our favourite consumer items — everything from smartphones to clothes.
ShopMate, which boasts the ability to let you “shop without borders”, will allow Aussies to buy from US retailers who do not ship their often much cheaper-priced goods to Australia.
It works by giving you your own American shipping address (which is actually a giant warehouse owned by Australia Post in Portland, Oregon), which then forwards your package directly Down Under in less than nine days, all for a flat fee with no ongoing subscription or monthly costs.
If a US merchant won’t accept your credit or bank card, Australia Post also offers international travel cards, as do most banks, which can be topped up with US dollars.
Parcel Post general manager Kelly Heintz told Insider Retail that Australian shoppers want trustworthy access to international brands that are not available locally.
“With record numbers of Australians now shopping online, we’re committed to providing consumers with trusted delivery services and secure online payment options for shipping, no matter where they purchase their items from,” Ms Heintz said.
The process will involve four steps: creating an account, shopping for what you want, declaring and paying, and then waiting (impatiently of course) for the hopefully cut-price American goodies to arrive.
The idea is nothing new. For example, Sydney-based Price USA has been offering a similar service since 2007. The difference with ShopMate is that it does not rely on international courier services, instead forwarding your package through the US Postal Service and Australia Post’s own delivery network.
The New Daily has previously reported that Australians pay far more for many consumer items because of the ‘tyranny of distance’ that drives up transport costs, but also because many companies charge us more simply because they can.
ShopMate could help us sneak around this price discrimination, known as ‘geo-blocking’, potentially saving us huge amounts on popular items. At least, that’s the theory.
The savings would need to be fairly significant to cover the fee. A flat rate of $24.95 will be charged per parcel, with an extra $5.95 added per 500 grams of parcel.