6 Companies That Ship Brand-Name Products from US Shops to South Africa – Assisted Shopping and Package Forwarding For Individuals

You want to buy something from a US shop but the retailer doesn’t ship overseas? This is a situation that many South Africans face. Every proud shopper wants to get the latest release from a brand name while it’s still hot.However, when you live in the wrong country, there is nothing you can do about it except sulk and pull out your hair. You have to wait 10 months or even more to get your hands on that prized item. When the item finally hits the local stores within six months, consider yourself lucky.

The advantage of being a resident of the western world or first world country such as the USA, Canada, UK, Germany, France, Japan, South Korea and Singapore is that you are the first beneficiary of all the latest things that are produced for the world market. Actually, a lot of these products are produced for the local market where consumers have a lot more disposable income and buying power than the developing world. A lot of overseas-based manufacturers and distributors will start exporting goods to developing markets such as South Africa, only when local demand is slipping. They have to clear their inventory as quickly as possible, so they open their warehouses to anybody in the world with money to buy. A lot of South African importers will not miss this opportunity. Although the products are no longer hot in the USA, they will be very much in demand in South Africa, even after a year or two. These products are guaranteed to sell as soon as they reach the ports in Cape Town and Durban.

While a few US and European-based companies will open supply to developing markets after many months, a lot of these companies don’t ship to specific regions and in most cases they won’t deal with individual buyers. Fortunately, there is a solution to this predicament.

screenshot-us-puma-com-website-rihanna-creepers

For example, if you want to buy the latest PUMA Creeper sneakers by Rihanna and you are not resident in the US or Europe, it will be difficult for you to get a pair. Rihanna’s Creeper sneakers were released in May 2016 to consumers in the US and seven months later, they are still hot and very much in demand in those regions. Actually, the sneakers are in short supply and PUMA doesn’t ship internationally, meaning that buyers in South Africa have to find other means to get those sports shoes. There are two options for international buyers – They can either wait up to 24 months to get those shoes in local stores or they can make use of US-based forwarding companies that will buy the shoes for you at Puma stores and send them to you via a reliable courier such as DHL,Fedex,TNT and USPS Express Mail.

The following is a list of US forwarding companies that will buy for you at your selected US store and ship the items to you, wherever you are in the world:

BorderLinx

Borderlinx is a US shopping and forwarding company that specializes in buying items on behalf of international clients and shipping them to their destination. The company allows clients to buy from over 60 brands in the USA. This includes PUMA, Reebok, Ray-Ban, Rolex, Panasonic, Prada and Ralph Lauren among others.

The forwarding firm has a client website that allows you to calculate your shipping fees. If you have rough information about the product that you intend to buy i.e. weight and dimensions, simply enter those details on their cost calculator to get an estimated shipping cost.

The company offers a repackaging and consolidation service whereby the warehouse staff repacks your orders from merchant stores to optimize space and reduce shipping charges based on volume. If you are purchasing multiple items, the company can consolidate your items into one shipment that allows you to save costs.

Borderlinx will buy your items and keep them in their warehouse free of charge for 30 days. They also offer insurance cover for protection of goods in transit as well as handling.

  • Payment Methods – PayPal, MasterCard, VISA and AMEX
  • Delivery Methods – DHL
  • Destinations – Includes South Africa. Very few African countries.
  • Support – 24/7
  • Services – Shopping and Goods Forwarding, Assisted Shopping
  • Shopping Geos – USA stores and retailers
  • Prohibited Goods – http://www.borderlinx.com/en/pages/faq/prohibited

When you are using a forwarding agent to source some overseas products for you, you should first of all find out which items are on the prohibited list from the Customs Department in your country. It is not a nice experience to buy an item that you love, only to find that it is on the list of prohibited items. In such cases, the Customs Office will seize your item or you may be required to produce an import permit. Besides items that are prohibited by a country’s customs department, there are items which are prohibited by shipping agents and couriers. It is your duty to find out, but in many cases, forwarding companies will let you know if an item is allowed or not.

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Shipito

Shipito is a US forwarding agent with interesting and attractive features. Once you sign up for a free account, you will be able to shop in any online store in the USA.They will give you a US-based delivery address which you must use when shopping and making orders. So whether you are a South African or any other nationality, you will get a Shipito address for your own use. All your purchases will be shipped to this address, which is actually a warehouse owned by Shipito.

The company has several warehouses in the USA including one in Austria. When your packages arrive at the warehouse, they will be repacked and consolidated for efficient storage and shipping. Pictures of the package are taken and shared with the client.

The firm does not only provide forwarding of goods to international destinations, but they also provide mail forwarding which is made possible by a personal US address. To make your online shopping easier, the company gives a free VISA US debit card to every one of their members. This card will be sent to you after signing up.

Unlike other shipping agents, Shipito offers separate services for individuals and bulk importers. If you have been following the complaint boards on the internet, there is one forwarding  company that has been accused of applying bulk shipping charges on individual packages, and as a result, clients were paying inflated charges.Shipito doesn’t hide its charges, the pricing for individual and bulk importers is clearly displayed on their website. If you intend to buy a single package, for example a box of shoes, you have to use the individual account. If you are buying in bulk (2 or more packages), then you will save costs by using the bulk account which is priced at $4.17 per month for an annual subscription.

  • Payment Methods – VISA, MasterCard
  • Delivery Methods – FEDEX, DHL, TNT, USPS Express Mail, Airmail Economy
  • Destinations – Includes South Africa. Many African, Asian and South American countries.
  • Support – 24/7 Live Chat, Email, Telephone, Mobile App
  • Services – Goods and Mail Forwarding, US Address, US Debit Card with Shipito brand name, Assisted Purchase.
  • Shopping Geos – USA stores and retailers

 

OPAS / ShipToMe

After merging with OPAS, ShipToMe is now known as OPAS, but they are still providing parcel and merchandise forwarding services for international buyers who are not able to buy from US shops. The company’s operational concept is similar to Shipito in that they provide you with a US address, which you can use as a package delivery address as well as a mailbox for forwarding mail.

When signing up with OPAS, you will need to choose from different plans, namely the Free Plan, Premium Plan and Premium Plus Plan. Rates differ based on the features but the paid plans start from $10 a month or $5 a month for an annual subscription. Paid plans offer more savings on shipping along with other conveniences. With a free plan, you can begin shopping online at any US store. On checking out, remember to use your US address in the order form. The only thing that does not change is your name and surname. When your order is complete and the invoice is paid, the store will send the package to your US address, which is the OPAS warehouse. From there, the workers will organize your packages for overseas shipping to South Africa and other destinations.

People use OPAS to buy things from over 28 popular US retailers which include Apple, Amazon, Victoria Secret, Best Buy, Old Navy, Abercrombie & Fitch, Evo Gear and Zappos.

Most of the retailers that the company works with are partners, so a client will benefit from deals and discount coupons that are offered from time to time.

  • Payment Methods – Credit Card, PayPal and other methods upon request
  • Delivery Methods – DHL
  • Destinations – South Africa, International
  • Support – Email, Contact Form
  • Services – Merchandise Forwarding, Parcel Forwarding, US Address, Mail Forwarding, Assisted Shopping
  • Shopping Geos – USA stores and retailers
  • Prohibited Goods – http://www.ship2me.com/restricted-items.html

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USABox

USABox claims to have over 60,000 customers. The company’s charges and plans are clearly laid out on their website. Like the previous two competitors discussed in this post, USABox specializes in the forwarding of packages and mail for clients who live outside the USA.They have two main plans, the Fast Track plan and the Platinum plan. The Fast Track plan is free, meaning that there are no subscription or setup fees. For both plans, a client will get a US street address for use in online shopping and delivery of merchandise. Package consolidation and re-packaging is done to reduce the volume of goods, and thus reducing the overall costs of air and ship transportation.

What distinguishes the free plan from the paid plan is that the paid plan offers three more features which come at a cost of $10/month. This includes shipping discounts and 6 months of free warehouse storage for your merchandise. A free account affords only 7 days of storage, so you have to ship out your goods quickly if you don’t want to incur extra charges. For those who like to outsource or delegate their shopping, USABox has a personal shopper service where an assistant buys for you.

  • Payment Methods – MasterCard, VISA, American Express, Discovery
  • Delivery Methods – DHL, FEDEX, TNT and others
  • Destinations – South Africa, International
  • Support – Email,
  • Services – Merchandise Forwarding, Parcel Forwarding, US Address, Mail Forwarding, Assisted Purchase.
  • Shopping Geos – USA stores and retailers
  • Prohibited Goods – http://www.usabox.com/prohibitions/

 

screenshot-www-usabox-com

FedEx CrossBorder

FedEx is a popular and trusted name in the shipping and forwarding of goods. If you want to work with a reliable brand name that has been in the business for a long time, then you should consider FedEx Cross Border. As a strategic plan to expand and diversify their services, FedEx acquired Bongo International to provide assisted shopping and merchandise forwarding for global residents who want to shop in US, EU and South American stores.

As a long time player in the shipping game, FedEx provides all services that are normally provided by forwarding agents such as consolidation of multiple packages from different vendors, warehouse storage, shipment tracking and shipping rate calculator. However, FedEx stands out from the rest in many aspects.

First, FedEx provides cover for your shipment in the event of damage or loss during movement and handling. They have a wide range of payment options and you are given an opportunity to inspect your items prior to shipping. Photos of each item in your package are taken and uploaded in your account where you are able to review them. If there are damaged items, missing items or any anomalies, you can ask FedEx to return the items for you.

Unlike other merchandise forwarders, FedEx has specialized services dedicated for two groups of shoppers – the individual shopper and retailers. You can use this company to import goods for your business in South Africa or any location around the world. The personal shopper service is available for those who need assisted shopping.

Calculating your shipping rates with FedEx is not a headache because they have an online calculator on their website which lays bare all the applicable charges. There is an additional calculator which helps you determine the amount of tax and duty required at the destination country.

For every box in their warehouse, FedEx charges $5 excluding shipping. There are no membership fees. Clients have 21 days of free storage, which gives you time to consolidate your orders from various merchants.

  • Payment Methods – MasterCard, VISA, American Express, Discovery and others
  • Delivery Methods – FEDEX
  • Destinations – South Africa, International
  • Support – 24/7
  • Services – Merchandise Forwarding for Individuals and Retailers, Assisted Shopping
  • Shopping Geos – Stores in USA,Europe and South America
  • Prohibited Goods – http://crossborder.fedex.com/us/shoppers/app/prohibited_items.shtml

 screenshot-crossborder-fedex-com

Grabr

Grabr is a new and exciting concept in the assisted shopping and forwarding industry. It is an unconventional package forwarding method which doesn’t make use of shipping companies such as DHL but in this case, the shipping agent is an adventure traveler or any traveler who is planning to visit a specific destination. In this regard, Grabr is not just a place to find someone who can bring you an overseas item, but it is also a place to meet and make friends with travel enthusiasts around the world.

To get started, you simply sign up for a free account. It is important to fill in accurate information about yourself, your location, name and photo etc. You then go on to post a request of an item that you are looking for from an online shop in the USA, Europe or other places. Let’s say you are looking for original Ralph Lauren sneakers, Diesel Watch, Motor X phone from Amazon or manufacturer’s website. Visit the online store and quote the item price and description. Enter the details in your Grabr post, including the pictures of the items and name of shop in which they are found.

Once your request is published, it will be seen by other members. If there are any members travelling to your country on a specific date, they will make an offer to deliver your item. The traveler gets a reward for delivering your items, so your reward must be good enough to attract an offer.

When you are buying something from a US shop via Grabr, you should factor in the cost of shipping plus any duty and tax that will apply at the border.Grabr is ideally okay for purchasing one or two compact items that won’t add too much weight to a traveler’s luggage i.e. shoes, smartphones, cameras, clothing, apparel and snacks. If you are thinking of importing of multiple packages or bulky goods, it’s not a practical solution. The disadvantage of using Grabr is that you can’t receive items at your own time, you depend upon the traveler’s schedule. If the traveler is visiting next month, it’s not possible to have the items next week. You have to wait. Worse still, if there are no travelers coming your way, you won’t get an offer.

  • Payment Methods – MasterCard, VISA, American Express, Discovery and others
  • Delivery Methods – Individual Travelers
  • Destinations – South Africa, International
  • Support – 24/7
  • Services – Assisted Shopping and Forwarding for Individuals, Travel Community
  • Shopping Geos – USA, Canada, Europe, South America, Asia or anywhere in the world where a traveler is based and where the required store/item is available.

screenshot-grabr-io

 

6 Reasons For Using Forwarding Companies that Shop and Buy for You – How does it Work?

There are many reasons why a global resident who needs an item from a US retailer would want to use a forwarding company. Below are six situations that necessitate using a foreign agent:

Credit Card Issues

Non-US Bank:

Some US merchants will not accept a debit/credit card that is not issued by a US bank. If you try to use such a card to buy online, it will be rejected although it’s VISA and MasterCard branded. As an example, a card issued by Nedbank, Standard Bank, ABSA and FNB in South Africa, Kenya or Namibia will not work if you try to buy from an American shop that doesn’t accept foreign cards. You have to open a bank account in the USA or get a US unlocked debit card that is issued by US merchants.

Bank Authorization:

Depending on the bank you use, some banks will give you an international debit/credit card that is VISA or MasterCard branded. However, if you want to shop online, you will need to get authorization from your bank i.e. your personal manager. When the card is authorized, you will be able to buy anything online, even from US stores which accept international cards.

Some banks issue cards which are pre-authorized, meaning that the cards will work right out of the gate, whether you are buying offline or online.

Verification Problems:

When you fill in your payment details right before checkout on an online store, the payment processor may try to verify your details with your bank. If the details don’t match i.e. if you use an incorrect address or name, your card will be rejected.

Store Doesn’t Ship Internationally

There are a lot of US brands that don’t ship internationally. They only provide shipping, which is mostly free within the US and surrounding islands. In such cases, you have to find a US agent who can buy and ship for you.

 Items Are For US Residents Only

A lot of brand new items which are released in the US are not available to international shoppers. In order to buy such items, you have to be a US resident with a US street address.  Global residents who need the items should make use of a US agent.

 No Alternative Payment Methods

A US store might ship internationally but only a few payment methods like PayPal and Credit Cards may be supported. There are many people around the world who don’t have access to credit cards and PayPal. These people won’t be able to buy even if they want the items.

 Need for Original Items

In this age, it is becoming more and more difficult to distinguish genuine items from imitations. High-end imitations are so good, they can easily be taken for the real thing. However, some lower-end imitation products especially those imported from China are easily identified by their low quality material and poor method of fixing. Cheap products from China are everywhere, even in the USA.You will find them, not only at small stores but also at major retail stores like Amazon, Walmart and Best Buy.

In South Africa, you should be living under a rock if you have not seen them at stores like Pep, Akermans, Mr Price, Woolworths and Edgars.

To be fair, not all China imports are low quality. It’s only the cheap ones that are low quality. There are a lot of high quality products that you can get from China if you have the money. However, while there are people who are pleased with high quality imitations, many people want the real brand. If you want the real brand, you should buy from the original store e.g. PUMA, not Amazon or Pep. A US shopping agent can get you real brand-name products from brand factory shops.

Keeping with Fashion Trends

If you are a fashion trend follower based in South Africa and other non-US markets, it’s highly likely that you have been disappointed by the unavailability of newly released brand items in these markets. Brand names have a reputation for selling to US residents first. As a result, the items will only be available in US stores.

If you are a consumer who likes to keep up with the latest trends, you should definitely get a US-based shopping agent to get you the items before the fad expires. Keeping with trends requires quick action and this means you must get the items first before everybody gets it.