So after stumbling upon the concept of package forwarding and the doors that this could open (episode 1), I did some simulating on a few of them. The scenario was simply to send a 2kg package (20x20x30 cm) here to Morocco, however long that might take. Some, like MyUS, OPAS or WannitUS are just too expensive to this destination, ranging from $70 to over $100. Shop & Ship stands out as the cheapest option for me, at $50. ReShip is acceptable too, at $60. For a 1kg large enveloppe, by the way, these two are still cheaper at around $27, the others remaining in the stratosphere with prices ranging between $60 and $90.
Besides the one-time price for shipping, the cost model is complicated. For some, not all, you pay a $5 – $25 first-time fee. Some charge a monthly fee of around $10. ReShip charges a $5 fee per package received. Some do free consolidation (grouping several packages into one to minimize the volume and therefore the cost), some charge $5-$10 for it, others do not consolidate. Most of them offer insurance. Some, and I’ll be testing that later, offer a personal shopper service. Reship does this, for example, for 8% + $8 for 10 packages. A personal shopper will help you shop around if you get lost in the maze, which is not what I need, but will also pay for you with a US credit card. This gets interesting for stores that only accept payments from the US, which I’ll be visiting later.
The one I decided to test first is Shop and Ship (SnS for short), with those supplements from the previous episode (2 packs of 3 is around 2kg). Not only are SnS the cheapest to where I live, but they offer something else that caught my eye: virtual addresses in 8 other countries.
This, in my current quest, is a must-have. One single service to shop around the world, in particular around Europe, India, China and Dubai. The shipping rates to Morocco are actually cheaper from their base in the UAE (it’s from the Emirati shipping company Aramex), as well as from India and Turkey (where my sister-in-law goes for insane fashion-shopping-trips). One interesting thing is that Shop & Ship do not ship to most western countries, such as the US, the UK and France, although for some reason Switzerland is on the list (not exactly your average muslim developing country). Contrarily to others, you pay per weight only, not volumetric weight. Which partly explains why they don’t really need to offer package consolidation.
How does it work? When you checkout from the online store, you use your SnS address. Once the package arrives to SnS, they notify you by email and you can view the package on their app:
Interestingly, they ship it out before you have a chance to pay. They’ll send you an email informing you that “the Pay Now feature is now active” (an elegant way of asking you to cash out), although in my case, the feature was not.
The shipping was fast, by my expectations, leaving NY on a Monday and arriving to my doorman (you have to meet this guy) on the next Thursday:
Payment was cash, in local currency, on delivery. Overall an easy, fast and relatively inexpensive operation. Total cost? 137€ instead of at least 190€ from Europe.
But what if you do not live in one of SnS’s destination countries? Well first of all, you should consider it, as Morocco, Lebanon, Mauritius and, well, Switerland are great places to live. But choosing where to settle as an expat is yet another story… So I did some simulating supposing my father in France would be the one to receive the packages (to be continued).