ShopMate Review: How to shop the US with ShopMate
Australia Post’s ShopMate service lets you shop like you live in the US, but still have all your items posted to your Australian address.
Ever wanted to buy something from your favourite US store, only to realise it ships ONLY to the US? ShopMate can fix that.
It’s Australia Post’s new service (or freight forwarder if you so wish to call it), which provides you with a unique ID number and American postal address so that you can purchase anything marked "US delivery only". From this American address, they will then post your item to you in Australia. So you get what you want without having to fly up to The States to buy it or bug your long lost American-based aunt for a "favour".
ShopMate discounts and deals
As part of its official launch, ShopMate is offering a whopping 20% off shipping! With Black Friday and Cyber Monday on at the moment, there's little reason why you SHOULDN'T buy up everything you want from the US. To receive this discount, all you have to do is enter the code: ShopMateLaunch when you're in the ShopMate checkout. This code expires at midnight, 30th November 2014.
How does ShopMate work?
It’s really easy. You create an account on the ShopMate website, and once you’ve been verified, you’ll receive your American address. Then, you do your big shop at your favourite online US stores, having all your items delivered to this US address. Make sure your items aren’t prohibited or dangerous for postage to Australia, or they may be confiscated.
Once your items have arrived at this US address/warehouse, you’ll be notified via email. You’ll then login to your account, declare your package and pay the correct postage for shipping to Australia and once that’s received, ShopMate will ship your item to your Aussie address. All will be tracked online, so you’ll know where your package is at, but it’s estimated it’ll take five to eight days to get to you from the warehouse.
How will my package be delivered?
All ShopMate packages will be delivered via courier, so they require a signature. If you won’t be home during the day to sign for your item, you can organise an Australia Post Parcel Locker so that you can access your package after working hours.
How does ShopMate get past the USPS 1583 form problem?
The USPS 1583 form is an application for forwarding mail through an agent. ShopMate doesn’t require you to fill out these forms for your item to be handled by them. However, you may need to fill out an online customs and document declarations (Shipper’s Export Declaration) if your purchase is over USD$2,500. You will be required to fill this out, sign it, and return it to their Customer Contact Centre where they’ll forward it to customs on your behalf to clear your item for delivery.
How much does ShopMate cost?
ShopMate isn’t cheap, that’s a given. It’s a flat $24.95 per parcel, and then you’re charged an extra $5.95 per 500g, in 500g increments. If your parcel weighs 700g in total, you’ll be paying $5.95 x 2 ($11.90) plus $24.95. So $36.85 in total for postage alone.
Don’t forget you still have to pay for postage for your US-item (if applicable) to your US address.
If you order multiple items, you may be entitled to a discount on your shipping costs. If they can bundle your items together they will (at a flat repackaging cost of $5). Any further postage discounts accrued through bundling will be mentioned when they email to notify you that your package has been received at their warehouse. Your item will not be shipped until you have paid your full shipping costs.
Are there cheaper freighting forwarders available?
While ShopMate is convenient, it’s not cheap. A rival company is Shipito. This company works in much the same way, providing you with an account and a US address; however, they provide you with more options for delivery.
You can choose to have your item shipped by anything from Airmail Economy (approx. USD$16 to ship a small 700g package to Sydney) to TNT Express and FedEx Priority. Though it’s up to you which merchant you choose, research will see you save more if you’re willing to wait for your package to arrive.
Another option is "crowdshipping". This is basically your long lost aunt situation, only she’s not your aunt. It’s someone who lives in the US charging you for the use of their address. Not the most streamlined option, but definitely one that could work in your favour.
Do I still have to create a ShopMate account if I’m already an Australia Post customer?
Yes, you still have to create an online customer account with ShopMate to receive your unique customer ID and postal address in the US.
Do I have to pay any other fees?
Australia Post / ShopMate doesn’t charge anything extra on top if its postage costs, however, you may need to pay GST and/or duty in order for your item to be cleared. If this is applicable, Australia Post will contact you. Alternatively, you can arrange for customs clearance yourself via the Customs website.
Why do people use ShopMate?
Some might argue it comes down to cost. The markups in Australia are remarkably high for certain items, meaning that even after you pay for postage, the final cost is still less than what you’d pay with an Australian retailer. Others may argue that the item they’re after just simply isn’t stocked in Australia. So if you’re after a designer or a version that isn’t available to Australia, ShopMate can get it to you.
Tips and tricks
- Buy when the dollar is strong: Aside from Australia Post’s postage, all your prices will be in USD. To make your dollar go even further, if you can wait, you can watch the dollar fluctuate and buy when the Aussie dollar is strong to save you a pretty penny.
- Invest in a credit card that doesn’t charge you international transaction fees. You’ll be purchasing in USD, so if you can use a card that doesn’t charge you bonus fees, then you could potentially save heaps.
- Always remember that you’re working with two different currencies. So do your calculations and conversions before you commit to make an informed and money-savvy purchase.
- Make sure the retailer you’re purchasing from accepts your form of payment. Some retailers might not accept your chosen payment method, which will mean finding an alternate retailer or payment method to make your purchase.
- Be sure of your item. One thing that you won’t be covered for is returns. ShopMate is just a freight forwarding company, so if you return an item, you’ll have to return it all the way to the US. If you’re wanting to exchange, it’ll have to go through ShopMate (and its postage fees) all over again. In a similar vein, ShopMate doesn’t cover loss and damage, but they do offer insurance for a fee.
- Use discount codes. When ShopMate first started, it was offering discounts for its account holders. Keep an eye on your inbox because you never know when they’ll have another sale on their services.
What can I shop for using ShopMate
Anything, really! It’s your very own personal US address. For example, many of Black Friday and Cyber Monday’s crazy cheap merchants are based in the US… Just sayin’. Amazon also has products that won’t ship to Australia.
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