Five things you need to know before importing your next haul
The Philippines is a shopaholic's paradise. Malls and boutiques are everywhere, and online shopping has finally become the norm with the rise of mega e-stores like Zalora and Lazada. Nonetheless, there are still brands we lust after (particularly in the beauty department) that aren't yet available in our favorite retail haunts. This leaves us with two options: either ask favors from balikbayan family and friends, or settle for the limited stock availability from local resellers. If those choices don't have their appeal, there's always the DIY route - or perhaps SIY (Shop-It-Yourself) is more apt?
While shopping - er, I mean RESEARCHING - for the latest beauty products, I discovered that some sought-after brands actually ship to the PH now! Before you whip the credit card and wish list out though, here are some things you need to know prior to making your offshore purchase:
Your Philippine credit card may not be accepted in certain stores
Yep, it makes more sense to use PayPal. It's more secure and there is less of a chance of credit card confusion! You have to be careful about this because some carts will charge your card and later on, if they find they can't accept it, take forever to return the charge. Certain stores also won't accept the credit card if it's under a name different from yours.
"Free" shipping is probably not free
There are almost always free shipping offers from brands who do online retailing, but it may only be available for select locations. For example, Tarte offers free parcel priority shipping for a minimum spend, but the terms of their international shipping policy states that duty and taxes are unpaid and that the package is subject to local clearance procedures (aka, the horrors of the Philippine postal system). You can opt to pre-pay taxes and duties instead, but that renders the free shipping offer useless.
On the other hand, Anastacia Beverly Hills offers a fixed international shipping fee (Worldwide Flat Shipping $17.95) no matter the size of the order, but it is also subject to local clearance as well.
Carefully read up on the international shipping policy to avoid being caught off guard once the package enters local shores. It would help to find out if they ship direct-to-doorstep, or if you have to pick the package up from the post office! My advice is to ask for door-to-door shipping as our post office might overcharge you for the fees. Some POs are not corrupt, while others are just. Ugh. It's more expensive to have the package sent straight to your doorstep but it will save you a trip and a headache.
Tip: Look for the landed cost of your order, meaning the final-final price that already includes all possible fees. You won't have to shell out any more money once the package arrives, if the price quoted is already the landed cost.
You won't have access to ALL products and promotions
You won’t always get the same products as the site's original US counterpart. Some collections, categories, or promotions are omitted once you change the shipping destination from US to Philippines. Take Macy's, for instance. Sadly, their sizable beauty section is unavailable for shipping to the Philippines.
Best case scenario: Catching a big sale
Mark your calendar for those seasonal sales! The ones to watch out for are the "friends and family" sales, Black Friday, and holiday sales. If the discount is significant, the final price (discounted price + whatever shipping fee/duties you have to pay) can still be cheaper than what you'll find in the local black market. Another tip to make it easier on your wallet? Consolidate orders with friends, because you can also divide any shipping and duty fees among yourselves.
Other brands that offer direct shipping to the Philippines:
Gerard Cosmetics - There is a $9.5 flat rate for international shipping below $35. They offer free international shipping for purchases over $35, but may be subject to taxes and duties.
Hourglass Cosmetics - Taxes/duties are included in the final bill.
Jeffree Star Cosmetics - There is a fixed $10.95 international shipping fee. They offer free international shipping for purchases over $150, though they may still be subject to taxes and duties.
Kylie Cosmetics - There is a $14.95 flat rate for international shipping, but this may be subject to taxes and duties.
Melt Cosmetics - Their fee is $10 for international shipping, but the package may be subject to taxes and duties.
Sugarpill Cosmetics - The package may be subject to taxes and duties.
A note on freight forwarders
If your bucket-listed beauty brand doesn't ship internationally, you can try a freight-forwarding service at your own risk. Some sites like Sephora US have cracked down on this while others don't have any issues. Some companies will cancel your order, if the same shipping address is used by too many people. From my personal experience (sadly!), the total bill is put on-hold on the credit card. If the sale doesn’t push through, this is automatically reversed.
It's easier and more economical to get your hands on the imported parts of your wish list, especially if you’re able to maximize the offers and discounts. The only concern now is how to ease up on the shopping sprees. Do you want something bad enough that you’re willing to have it shipped? Name names! We want to know what you’re itching to get. :)
Images via brand websites