Thursday, 23 May 2013

Online Shopping

A quick refresher in the history of online shopping before todays' chat.

The first www server and browser was created by Tim Berners-Lee in 1990

1994 - online banking started, Pizza Hut launched the first online pizza shop and Netscape did it's thing, and INTERSHOP first online shopping system opened for business.

1995 launched and within months eBay started trading.

We've come a long way in a less than twenty five years.

We really started online shopping jus before MissM was born. I discovered how simple and easy sitting in my pj's and doing the weekly shop was and haven't looked back. We used eBay for the first time when we were selling stuff just before moving to Dublin.

I took the most creative photos possible of furniture, we diligently measured every possible length, height, depth, angle so as not to give false information, we were honest about the quality of the item and spent ages over the copy before uploading it to the 'net' and waiting for offers to flood in.

In those days, everyone was buying/selling on eBay. It became a popular past time, especially when you were in a bidding war to buy something or indeed, you were anxiously waiting to see what the highest bid would be if you were selling.

What's funny odd (not funny haha) is how many people around the world still don't have access to the www, or internet shopping. Ireland for example (at least when we were there five years ago) wasn't happening to the extent Australia was.

It was just too hard in Japan. You could access English websites, but the challenge came when placing a successful order, as more often than not, the things you wanted were 'unable to be shipped'. That, and lack of English books was the main reason many of us ended up with Kindles (bought when on holidays) as a means of keeping up with book club.

Many expats ask family and friends when visiting to bring over things - we like Areoplane Jelly, Twisties and Cheezels, while MrsS asks for simple things like underpants for her boys, English books and games. Friends living in China are happy to receive anything!

We do LOTS of online shopping here. In fact, maybe too much, which is odd in many ways as we're surrounded by English, and clothes/shoes that fit.

Anyone living overseas who need to send gifts 'home' (where ever that might be) have a few issues to contend with.

  • international postage is expensive 
  • international postage can be unreliable (in that it can take weeks or months for no reason to get from A - B; or not be delivered at all)
  • you tend to buy light weight, flat items that are easy to post
  • never seldom, if ever, send delicate, breakable items no matter how well wrapped they may be
  • you don't want recipients having to pay import taxes, or sales taxes (we've had to do that a few times with things sent to us)
  • items go missing between A and B (MrsB sent us a small photo album when we were in Dublin and it's never turned up there, or been returned despite being clearly addressed To and From; a Christmas parcel addressed to my brother came back to me with a 'address unknown' sticker on it)
  • ensuring recipient is home to sign for parcels can be an issue (I tend to send stuff to their workplace)
  • knowing recipient has a letter box to receive the size of parcel you are sending (how many big letter boxes do you see?)
  • If anyone has anymore issues please add them!

Over the years, we've realised there's a few solutions to gift giving/sending. Either deposit money into family or friends account and ask them to shop/wrap/deliver gift OR, shop online on a domestic website (for example, i shop on for Australia, or for Ireland)

Having been doing this online, international shopping for several years now, here's a few of my favourites: has been my 'local' florist never disappoint. They deliver stunning flowers, on time and the recipients always comment on the displays and how long the flowers last.

When Peters of Kensington went online, Sydney-siders living anywhere but Sydney celebrated! In fact, at Christmas and leading up to Mothers Day, even Sydney-siders prefer shopping online here as the shop itself has lines of people waiting to get inside. The store is amazing, and the prices are very competitive. Having the opportunity to buy online, and have gifts wrapped and delivered was and still is an incredible benefit.

When in doubt, a voucher from Westfields is always a hit. I have had to overcome my aversion to gift vouchers, just. has dressed MissM for years. They are such fun fashion, and the site is so very reliable.

Naturally, amazon is still and always will be a favorite; not just for books either these days.

Photo albums are done at mypublisher or via apple mac programs, and delivered directly to grandparents.

There are loads more, and you've got your favourites.

When we know we're coming for a visit, it's great to pop online to the supermarkets and place an order and have it delivered to the apartment.

Today's chat started because my niece still hasn't received her birthday gift which I bought online last week, in Australia to save the potential drama's of missing international post. I knew exactly what I wanted to get her for her 13th birthday, and could have bought it here and posted it, but thought no, local delivery would be best. I didn't want to hassle mum, or anyone else, so went online, found a stockist and placed my order.

The issue is that for the first time I think I've bought off a shonky website. They have sent thru a transaction number, but no confirmation of the order/payment; the payment isn't showing up on our bank statement either ...... I've emailed them but had no response. I've phoned but the number is in America and answered by a non English speaker.

MissS is very understanding, but that's not the point.

I'm debating whether to wait (and if so, for how long) before sending her something else.

I'm so angry that I got duped after all these years! The fact that MissS is the one to have been affected is heartbreaking.

What would you do?
Have you been duped by online shopping?
What are your favourite sites?

With friendship

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