Apple, Ben & Jerry’s, Levi’s, Amazon, Zippo, Canon, Harley Davidson, Playboy, MAC Cosmetics, eBay, Oreo, Coca Cola – North America has given birth to countless iconic brands which have become global obsessions. Thankfully, many have opened their doors to the rest of the world. Having said that, some of the legends and many of America’s lesser-known gems are yet to stretch their international wings, preferring to stick to a domestic flight path despite strong universal interest.
During my travels throughout the US and Canada, I discovered countless bespoke products and emerging brands I yearned to have back in Australia. I raved about them to my friends, pined after them from afar and convinced myself I had to find a way to access them. Unfortunately, I was either slapped with an exorbitant shipping fee or the simple fact that my beloved brands didn’t ship to Australia – darn it.
Jump to the 2016 and I’ve finally discovered a way to minimise both of these challenges. Let’s just say, where there’s a problem the internet has a solution. In my instance, the solution is called Shipmatica. This clever-thinking shipping company allows people to purchase and post practically anything from the USA and Canada. Hooray!
To test Shipmatica’s services, I recently bought a bag of specialty herbal tea from Beverly Hills and had it sent to my home in time for a girlfriend’s birthday (she’s obsessed with LA’s “kale culture”). In case anyone else is interested in this type of service, whether they’re craving American apparel, technology, wedding décor, packaged foods or beyond, I thought I’d review the experience for your interest. In a nutshell, it didn’t disappoint.
So, how does Shipmatica work?
Essentially, Shipmatica allows customers to use its American and Canadian warehouses as local addresses, so they can access products which are only being supplied to the domestic market. Once Shipmatica receives a customer’s parcel, it can then post the item to any corner of the planet. Shipmatica’s warehouses also act as handy consolidation points for those wanting to purchase multiple products from various suppliers throughout Canada and/or the USA, and reduce the total delivery cost (I’ll discuss this more later).
Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to use Shipmatica’s services:
1. Visit shipmatica.com and register your details.
2. Choose a subscription, which suits your needs. Basic subscription is free and it allows you to store one package at a Shipmatica warehouse for up to 90 days. I opted for the premium plan, which includes a number of extra funky features, such as purchase orders (find out more here).
3. Receive your unique shipping address in the USA and Canada via email. Each address will include a Shipmatica warehouse location along with a unique suite number (the latter is personalised for each customer).
4. Buy products from the USA or Canada (most likely from an e-store), and enter your Shipmatica address upon checkout. Note: some businesses offer free domestic shipping, which is another way having an address with Shipmatica can help you save on delivery costs.
5. Log your pending parcel with Shipmatica (this step isn’t essential, but it’s helpful to notify the Shipmatica team to ensure correct storage and delivery).
6. Await an email notification from Shipmatica stating your parcel has arrived. It will be stored for up to 90 days for free. If you’ve ordered multiple products, you can consolidate them at this stage and have them sent to your international address in a single box.
7. Allocate funds to your Shipmatica virtual “wallet” to cover international postage costs, and select your preferred delivery service (e.g. UPS express).
8. Await the arrival of your parcel!
What are the perks of using Shipmatica?
In my experience, here are some of the key reasons to recruit Shipmatica’s services:
> Access: First and foremost, Shipmatica gives international shoppers access to US and Canadian products/brands, which only ship locally. My husband encountered this problem recently, when he needed a new piece of American camera gear for an urgent film gig. The technology was so fresh it wasn’t being shipped to customers outside of the US. Thanks to Shipmatica, my husband was able to get the item express posted to our home in time for his film project.
> Consolidation & Cost Reduction: Shipmatica’s services are also helpful if you want to buy multiple products from various suppliers throughout the USA and/or Canada. It’s warehouses can act as consolidation points, and Shipmatica staff can merge all of your parcels into one box to reduce the total delivery cost. This feature also comes in handy if you’re looking to buy products from stores which do in fact ship internationally but can’t consolidate their items with other store’s products before sending them abroad (this perk is a godsend around Christmas time!).
> Convenience: Once you’ve registered with Shipmatica and made yourself familiar with the site’s navigation, the entire process becomes quite user-friendly and prompt. In fact, the total time it takes to deliver a parcel from store to Shipmatica warehouse to international address is pretty on par with a direct delivery service from store to doorstep (as long the customer doesn’t hold things up with delayed payments and approvals).
Tracking & Security: Shipmatica sends customers exterior images of their parcel once it’s arrived at a warehouse. Upon request, staff can also supply interior/product images and information to ensure the original supplier dispatched the correct item (colour, size, flavour, brand, style etc.). The options of additional protective packaging and insurance are available at this stage, too. Once the package commences its final journey to an international address, the customer receives a tracking number which allows them to follow its exact location at every stage of its shipment.
> Product rebates and discounts: Shipmatica’s “Shopping Guide” portal helps customers find exclusive offers, coupons and promo codes for American-based stores. Based on my experience, this aspect of the website is still under development. Shipmatica also provides useful advice on how to secure rebates and “earn” on purchases.
> Purchase support: Many online stores in the US and Canada, including some of the world’s most famous designer boutiques and discount stores, decline foreign bank cards. If you’ve struggled with this issue in the past, Shipmatica can help. Simply place a purchase order with the company, which includes a detailed description of what you want to buy. Shipmatica’s staff will then chase up the stock and purchase the items on your behalf using the funds in your “virtual wallet”.
> Customer support: I have to give props to Shipmatica for their commitment to exceptional customer service. It’s obvious the team has thought long and hard about every possible purchase and delivery issue international customers may face when sourcing products from the US and Canada. They’ve provided sound solutions to practically all of those issues, from detailed sizing charts and shipping cost calculators to the many perks mentioned previously.
Did you face any challenges while using Shipmatica?
My only slight reservation with Shipmatica relates to its site design. While, for the most part, it was easy to navigate, there were times when the next step wasn’t 100% intuitive. Having said that, I’m not a natural when it comes to new technology! And, if at any point I needed help, I found Shipmatica’s customer service team incredibly supportive and responsive. I felt like they really cared about my experience with their business and wanted to ensure it was as convenient and positive as possible. They even included a hand-written thank you postcard from Portland with my parcel!
Ultimately, it still costs a small fortune to post anything from the US or Canada internationally (especially to my home country, Australia). While Shipmatica undoubtedly provides its customers with cost savings, thanks to its consolidation feature, shopping tips and access to free domestic freight (when it’s offered), the company is still working hard to develop efficient contracts with postage companies to reduce its international delivery fees even further.
In light of my experience using Shipmatica, I’d definitely recommend their services to my readers, friends and family. Thanks to Shipmatica, I’m now able to shop my way around Canada and the US without leaving my comfy couch in Brisbane (Rodeo Drive, eat your heart out!). The experience is relatively convenient and as cost-effective as it can be. I’m no longer faced with issues such as: limited international delivery options, expensive multi-item shipping costs, or declined international banks cards. I’ve also gained access to perks such as special discounts, insider tips on rebates and additional parcel security. In 2016, I couldn’t ask for more.