It was just over a IGgirls dinner gathering with Roanna, Vinna and Fifi 2 days ago when Fifi raised her frustration – There are so many things on Sephora USA that we can’t get in Singapore. But they wouldn’t accept my credit card as it is not USA registered. How did you girls get your products?’
The same goes for everything else that is not available in your country. Or, they available in your country, but for whatever reasons other than tax, they are EXTREMELY expensive!
Well, there are (were) basically 2 solutions.
1) You have a friend or a relative in the country where you want to get your products from. So you get them to purchase it on your behalf, have it shipped to their house and they’ll ship over to you. Then you pay them back via bank transfer.
2) You have a friend who also wants products from your country so you do a swap. I am very fortunate to have great like-minded sisters in USA ( talking @fenztastic & @secondsacharm) and Australia (yes thats you @chibaby!) who does swaps with me and we simply help other other make purchases, check the purchases, pack and send to them. But here’s the trouble.
What if you knew no one in the country you want to ship from?
In my case, the trouble came when I so yearned for products from Korea. I am a big fan of Korea skin care products as I feel that they are Asian products and work better for my skin compared to European and US products. However, I have no friends in Korea **sobs sobs..* and didn’t want to do a direct shipping either as it is expensive and there is no one to help check the product condition.
Need I also mention that Korean products have one of the most gorgeous packaging and it doesn’t help that I am a big sucker for packagings?! That’s why, when I discovered ShopandBox.com , I did a little skip and hop around my laptop!
I got to know about ShopandBox from a tech blog called “Tech in Asia’ and was in geek mode reading up on startups when I chanced upon the article talking about ShopandBox being the next big thing to watch. It is amazing how they have managed to bootstrap since a year ago and have grown to 9 countries since them. As described in the article, ShopandBox is a “Melbourne based e-commerce platform” with a simple premise. In this age of globalisation many things can be bought in your own country that originated from somewhere else but are way more expensive than if you had bought them from their country of origin in the first place. Here are some examples that I think my dear fellow beauty enthusiasts will resonate with.
And so I immediately hopped on and started shopping KOREA! Now at this point of time, I must state that all products are purchased by myself. They are not sponsored by the brands nor ShopandBox. I only get discounts off shipping and boxer fees, which is really not a lot compared to how much I have spent on the haul. Watch the video below to find out what I’ve got!
My total spending: $210.45USD or S$273.08
Express shipping costs (reached me in 2 days!) : $28USD or S$36.33
Boxer Fee: $29.81uSD or S$38.68
Here’s how it works!
Step 1: Create your wish list
ShopandBox had made creating a wishlist fast and simple. Everything is guided and all you have to do is to fill in the blanks. During the curation of my wishlist, I had problems finding out the name of item or the prices as they are all in Korean. However, this is no worries as you can get the boxer to find out more information for you, even down to the product ingredients if you have certain allergies like I do!
Step 2: Create your wish list
From here, give your order a name and then hit ‘ buy selected items now!’ At this point, you do not have to worry if you still might want to add or remove items from your wishlist as no payment is taken at this stage. You are simply assigned to a boxer who will then proceed to be your ‘personal shopper’ and help you with your shopping cart 🙂 Here’s a peek at my super duper long wish-list!
As you can see, I started off with a really long list as I wanted to know the prices before I narrowed down to the final items to purchase. My boxer AliAesle is really kind and patient and she really knows the best places + deals to get them! Love love love her! I must also admit that I have been pretty laggy in my replies due to work and business trips, but never once did she lose her patience with me. She also kept with her constant follow ups – truly a number 1 personal shopper!
My list then narrowed down to the following (Items confirmed by shopper) as I have told myself to keep to a budget of not more than S$300 – trust me, with all the awesome products you can get from Korea, it is not difficult to exceed the amount!
Step 3: Make your payment
After this step, your boxer will go all out to purchase your desired items and they will keep you updated on the progress. Some of the items needs to be shipped, especially if they are bought online, so be prepared to wait for about a week. During this time, your shopper will informed you if there are any problems, eg. If you have gotten your shopper to test the product for you, they will need time to change it out for you if it is defective. To save on shipping costs, you might also want them to remove the packaging for you too, which reduces the box size.
Step 4: Wait for your products to arrive!
Once your boxer have got all the products, they will box everything up for you and ship it out. From here, you can expect for your parcel to arrive within a amazing shipping time of 1 to 3 days. I got mine in 2 days! Very fast!
Benefits of having a shopper with ShopandBox and what I loved!
1)Product packers normally do not open up the boxes or packaging to check the product before shipping. Thus, even when the product is defective, it is still shipped out. Once it reached your country, having it changed is extremely difficult. Thus, having a local shopper to help check and return the product if damaged or in unsatisfactory condition is extremely helpful!
2) Your boxer can also help you reduce your shipping costs by opening up the packaging, reducing your box shipping size. Sometimes, they even pack better than the packing company itself! Mine came all well wrapped in bubble wraps and in great condition!
3) Language woos – During my online shopping research, most of the sites are in Korean, which I cannot understand. For sites that are non korean like amazon, they tend to be really overpriced. Having a boxer with ShopandBox can help you overcome these language difficulties too as they can converse with you in English and help you with your enquires.
4) Some things are just not available online – Like the AWESOMELY FABULOUS BROWNIES (I’ve gobbled them all up and need more!). These brownies are found in the supermarkets and I’m definitely looking up for more awesome Korean delicacies to being back to SG!
5) Your boxer will also let you know shipping concerns. For example, I didn’t get the Banana Milk in the end as AliAesle noticed that all the Banana Milk were refrigerated and she was worried that the product may spoil along the way. Note that boxers are paid a percentage of what we buy and to advise against a item would mean a lesser amount earned. This is even when she had already gone out to check on the item! **touched!**
What needs to be improved on ShopandBox
1) The user experience – At the beginning, I was pretty lost as the UI of the site is not yet intuitive. After leaving the site, it took me awhile to find my wishlist page. Also, it would be great if I can create a few wish lists according to the countries, something like Pinterest style, since the boxing and final purchase is also by countries. It also frustrated me a few times when I was trying to add a item to my wish list… and then the item disappeared because I have left the page or refreshed – a auto save function will rock the site!
2) Adding and removing items after confirmation can only be done by the boxer, thus I cannot have a good overview of the prices and have to open up a new excel sheet for my own calculating and budgeting purposes. It will be great if items, once removed, will disappear from the list and shoppers can have more flexibility in adding and removing the products. During the adding or removing of products, the total rates will be updated automatically. Otherwise, I think this site has a really good potential and am totally loving the whole idea! Jia you Rebecca and team!
DISCOUNT CODES! SHOP WITH SHOPANDBOX NOW!
I also know that many of you are eyeing on the USA exclusives, so I have specially asked for a discount code for you too!