Whether shopping for yourself or someone else, there’s nothing more frustrating than spotting an item on social media only to learn it is no longer available in Australia -- or worse, it simply doesn't ship here at all.
And thanks to our remote geographical location, oftentimes the brands that most excite us tend to forget Australia -- forcing us to spend up on overseas trips (Barneys, anyone?) or camp out overnight on the rare occasion they do decide to stock down under (how could we forget H&M’s Balmain foray).
If you’re a seasoned shopper, you’re probably already bagging deals on America’s Cyber Monday -- which offers online-only deals following the annual shopping holiday, Black Friday marking the onset of the Christmas shopping period.
But as much as the overseas holiday deals excite us from afar, there is still a great number of retailers that don't offer shipping services to Australia.
Enter personal shopping service ShopandBox -- an online tool that allows people to shop like a local anywhere in the world by connecting you with your own personal shopper, affectionately known as a “Boxer”.
Founded in Melbourne by husband-and-wife duo Xin-lung Tai and Rebecca Chia after they grew tired of fulfilling friends’ shopping requests each time they travelled overseas, the service now boasts over 30, 000 shoppers globally.
“It was in 2013 when we thought why not turn this into a service whereby we can connect two people from across the world via a platform to help them shop,” Xin-lung Tai told The Huffington Post Australia.
It began as a personal network of shoppers with people the couple knew and trusted from all over the world however, quickly grew to people using the service they had never met.
“It attracted people from all walks of life who just love shopping -- they have this thirst for sharing their local shopping tips and their favourite shops to visit,” Rebecca Chia told HuffPost Australia.
Both electronics and cosmetics are among the most popular items.
“Despite Sephora launching in Australia last year, it doesn’t stock the full range so very quickly we had beauty lovers and makeup artists come to us -- also the pricing in the States for brands like MAC is much cheaper,” Chia said.
While item pricing remains true to what the Boxer pays locally, they are remunerated with a service fee -- a percentage of the cost of the item ranging from 10 to 14 percent -- the more you spend, the lower your fee.
“We don’t recruit Boxers if their primary motivation is a financial reward -- however, depending on how hard the Boxer wants to work they can make between $200 and $1500 a month,” Tai said.
Tai said it is a peer-to-peer exchange and one that is an extremely social process where the shopper and boxer have ongoing communication throughout.
“Basically you build your wishlist up simply by looking at what others are buying or from the category drop down box, submit your order and then the platform pairs you with a boxer from around the world,” Tai said.
Until that shopper is comfortable with the price and availability of the items they’re after, they don’t pay.
Payment is via Paypal and in a similar fashion to eBay, both parties are notified at each stage of the transaction.
As well as Nike shoes and luxury skincare brands from French pharmacies -- Chia said some of the orders they see coming through are particularly bespoke.
“One of our shoppers in Noosa recently received her order from France -- a personalised monogrammed Louis Vuitton goyard wallet,” Chia said.