By using ShopMate by Australia Post, you can now purchase from US only retailers that otherwise wouldn’t ship to Australia and
have your products forwarded to your Australian address.
Many online retailers either flat out refuse to post products to Australia or offer differential pricing that sees Australians charged a premium for the exact same purchase.
Australia Post’s service called ‘ShopMate’ now rectifies this. It is essentially a ‘freight forwarding service’ that issues you with a unique tracking number and American postal address in order to buy online and have products sent to your ‘US postal address’. The parcel is then received and on-forwarded to your Australian address at an extra cost, meanwhile you as the consumer have taken advantage of better pricing in US dollars along with enabling a purchase that otherwise wouldn’t have shipped to Australia.
What is ShopMate and how does it work?
Using a service like ShopMate isn’t complicated. Simply create a user account on the ShopMate website, verify yourself and receive an American postal address.
You can then begin shopping on overseas websites at overseas prices (remember this is specific to US based purchases). When you go to buy your item, enter your American postal address and once your package arrives, you will be notified by email.
Once you receive this notification, you will need to login to ShopMate and go through a few admin steps that are very quick in order to declare your package is safe and then pay the on forwarding cost to Australia.
Once ShopMate posts your parcel/package, you will be able to track it online all the way to your door so you always know where it’s at. Estimates state it will take between 5-8 days to make its way to you via courier (all parcels are sent via courier with ShopMate).
An example of why ShopMate can help you
A site like Nike.com automatically redirects you to its Australian store. The products are more expensive and the variety is limited. If you select the US site from the flag options in the footer of Nike.com you will in turn see cheaper products and more variety, albeit unable to post to Australia. Now that you have ShopMate you will however still be able to buy.
How does ShopMate deliver your package?
All parcels from ShopMate are sent and delivered via courier. It will require you to sign on delivery, this means if you aren’t home you will need to attend your local post office or parcel pickup location/locker to receive the item.
Remember, a key feature of ShopMate is the ability to use in conjunction with a ‘Australia Post Parcel Locker’ that lets you pick up your parcels after hours from a 24/7 secure locker.
Will you need to declare or pay duty on items bought through ShopMate?
You may need to pay duty if your item is very expensive. In general however, you will not need to fill out any forms or do declarations beyond the online one when you login to receive your parcel.
You may also need to pay GST on items over $1,000 but it’s a case by case basis.
How much does ShopMate by Australia Post cost?
ShopMate is touted as kind of expensive, however it depends how you look at it. The fees per parcel are around $24.95 and then an extra $5.95 per 500g of weight.
As an example, a pair of shoes (costing you $100 and weighing 1KG) from a US retailer will incur the following costs from ShopMate: $24.95 flat fee + $11.90 + any shipping costs from the website itself.
While it may seem expensive, this could save you a lot of money when it comes to big ticket items that are expensive like Apple products and electronics.
How to use ShopMate to snap up bargains from US retailers
- Opt to pay in USD on a travel money card. Use a prepaid foreign currency card to lock-in your exchange rates and pay directly in USD. Often this is cheaper than paying in Australian dollars and having your bank dictate the conversion rate + charge you a 3% of value fee.
- Hunt down discounts codes. US retailers love their coupon codes, do a quick search for the retailers name and the word coupon or discount. Remember, sometimes you can ‘stack coupons’ and enter multiple codes to receive multiple savings.
- Check the retailer accepts your card. Some online retailers that ship to the US only will not accept Australian credit cards or debit cards. If this is the case, a good trick is when you enter your ‘billing address’ is to add some digits to your postcode to make it look American. Alternatively use the tried and tested postcode ‘90210’.
- Be careful if you need returns. As you are technically not meant to receive items from these US retailers, returns will be difficult. Try and be very certain that the product you are buying is right and don’t just guess.