December 2, 2021 — August 23, 2023

Figure 1

Buying items from other markets that will not ship to me. Many firms will not ship to Australia, either because our market is small or our import rules are restrictive, or that our market is too small to make it worthwhile navigating our import restrictions. My favourite example of a thing which bizarrely no-one will ship to Australia: anti snoring garments.

An important distinction between companies is whether they offer only courier service (Shippn, OPAS) which means they are going to cost a week’s rent to ship to Australia, or whether they also offer slower and more economical services (Shop & Ship, vPost, Ship7, shipitto). The courier only one are insanely expensive, say, 10 times the prices of their competitors; for the price of 4 or 5 parcels, it becomes cheaper to buy a round-trip flight from Australia to Europe and puck things up by hand. Who uses those services?

1 Shop & Ship

Shop & Ship services many challenging places, including some hard-to-get locations—Australia, Canada, China, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Egypt, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Malaysia, New Zealand, Pakistan, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sri Lanka, Switzerland, Thailand, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, UK, and USA.

It is an operation of Aramex, a Dubai-based freight company.

Free basic, USD70/year premium. May try these folks next, but do note that their trustpilot reviews are pretty bad. Shipping rates looks affordable, approx 80% less (so far) than the truly savage Fedex Courier fees charged by competitors. They block access from my VPN, which is kinda annoying.

2 Ship7

Ship7 ship from USA, UK & Turkey. Rates look affordable, comparable to Aramex.

3 Shipito

Previously I used Shipito, a US service for getting audio gear. That has not been recently useful; most things I could get in the USA have been available in Australia too for comparable rates.

4 vPost

I trialled the Singapore Post service vPost. USP: will reship from Indonesian merchants to Australia. (Batik!) Update 2022-08-24: they discontinued all reshipping from Asia to Australia. This service is now useless to me. The below information is of purely historical interest.

I have now received two parcels via vPost.

Notes: First, they did not note receipt of my parcel at the Jakarta warehouse. I emailed the vendor (in Indonesian, no English option) and got delivery receipt details. vPost did not respond to my queries about this when I contacted the supplied the Australia vPost contact address. Pro-tip: the Australian contact email address is UNATTENDED and will lead to unsatisfactory customer service if you believe it is real. Use the Singapore-based customer service form to avoid sadness. Once I tried that, they found my parcel in the warehouse within 2 days.

Next step: The projected shipping time to Australia was way off (36 days late, for an overall delivery time of 56 days). I guess they get a COVID pass for that, this one time.

They provided me tracking number for Australia post, which was valid for the last two days of the delivery only, once it reached Australia. Before it reached the Australian border, the parcel was in the hands of the Singapore Post logistics arm Quantium Solutions who do have a tracking service but I had no Quantium tracking number, so it was unclear for most of that time if the parcel was lost or in transit. Emails to the customer service team were answered by people who said they would look into it and get back to me within 3 business days but were not able to do so, until the last one, who told me that the parcel was in Australia now.

Nonetheless, vPost are were one of few operators on the challenging Indonesia—Australia reshipping route, so maybe that is as good as it gets. Pricing was OK I guess? AUD83 for 5 shirts is less than the full air freight rate but more than the surface LCL freight rate. Delivery was surface freight speed, bulk-carrier level of service, which is probably my jam and would be OK except for how much manual intervention was required.

From the USA I got a small (0.5kg) electronics parcel delivered at a reasonably price (AUD34 including insurance) Paid on 13 Jan, estimated arrival 24 Jan -1 Feb, actual arrival on 9 Feb, so the service is converging towards punctual over time.

5 Shippn

Shippn is AFAICT, a gig-economy-style service where locals will shop for you in various countries then post things to you. The UX and rates for the actual BUYING of things is quite cheap, approximately USD15 for the last USD80 item I investigated, which seems fine. The actual shipping from the buyer to me is not at all cheap; they only offer fast reshipping by expensive carriers; for me in Australia there is only DHL Express and Fedex Priority. With FedEx priority, a USD20 boxed t-shirt will cost me USD292 to ship to Australia. This doesn’t make sense for any item that I would buy.

6 Others

OPAS seems to only do the USA and they are wildly expensive (once again, USD 292 for a boxed tshirt.)

7 Overviews, reviews

Various other services are reviewed in Techvise. Australia-specific, see ShopMate and US freight-forwarding services compared.

Crowdshipping options sound like they could solve some problems here, i.e. ones where travellers bring parcels. But are any still working? Parcl was hyped for a while but now defunct. How about Bambizz or Nimber?