Great Tips When You Shop Online at Overseas Web Sites
The strong Australian dollar continues hold world wide, and there has never been a better time to do your online shopping from Australia, but at overseas stores! Today I thought I would mention some great tips to use when you do your online shopping overseas.
Before I start with these tips to check offshore web sites, I should mention these tips aren't an absolute 100% way to determine if you're buying off a legitimate online shop. In an international market you're not fully protected by both Australian and the other countries' law. If you run into trouble, getting the authorities out to co-ordinate a world wide investigation for your lost $200 is going to be almost impossible to do.
That being said, don't be put off at all :) Use these tips as a guide to satisfy yourself and to learn the difference of a good international online store to one that isn't.
The first and most important tip is to checkout the store as much as you can. Send emails to the store asking about delivery. Why not ask them about delivery insurance to Australia and if they have it? If the store responds quickly you have a store that is ready to listen, and a good chance they will be quick to listen again if you start having problems with your order in the future.
Run a google search for a review of the web site. ie: "[Store Name] review" or "[Store Name] review forum". If the web site is a popular shopping destination, you won't have to look to far in the results to realise if the web site has a good reputation or not.
Next, check that they deliver to Australia. If they don't say they ship to Australia don't assume the online store will. You may find yourself going through the registration, shopping cart and checkout process only to find there's no delivery to Australia. Another email to support should help, or perhaps try the FAQ page if the store has one.
Start Small! I always use this tip when ordering from a new online shopping store, or an overseas store. Buy a cheap product and see how well the delivery process is. Generally you'll get order confirmation, tracking numbers, and an invoice which needs to detail prices, shipping costs, and support contact details. When the order goes well, you can go back and make a bigger purchase.
A big pitfall to look out for when shopping online at overseas web sites is the Australian Customs. If your product gets held up in Customs you may need to spend a lengthy trip to the local customs department or pay a fee to get the product released. An even worse possibility, is the product is rejected by Customs as you watch it get sent back or burnt to a crisp on the spot.. No kidding! :)
So make sure you're buying something that will pass the customs inspection easy - hardware, electronics, and most inert items should be fine. If you're unsure, here's a link to the Australian Customs web site and a link to the Australian Customs Prohibited and Restricted Imports Guide.
Also try using a popular third party payment gateway when you use your money. A good number of web sites both when shopping online in Australia and overseas offer Paypal as a payment method. A good tip when shopping overseas is to try use your Paypal account. If all mediation between you and the overseas online store goes wrong, Paypal may be able to intervene and get your money back.
In regards to Australian GST and shopping overseas you will need to confirm the details with the web site. If you're buying expensive products over $1000 it's likely you will not be charged GST. In this case you will need to pay another 10% of the total bill to the tax man come next 1st July the next year.
These overseas shopping tips are just common sense really. But it's amazing how easy it is to get carried away with the prospect of buying something new overseas and overlook these simple shopping tips.