SITTING IN BOMBAY, SHOPPING IN NYC Traditionally, the only ways to buy products from international brands was to shop during an overseas trip or hand a list to (unwilling) friends and visiting relatives. With the Internet, though, the world’s best retail therapies are at your fingertips. But the ancillary costs of e-shopping ruin the thrill of owning that latest pair of sneakers or SAKS linen. E-commerce sites that ship internationally allow us to shop global brands without leaving our homes. Even if it costs more than local offerings, the quality and brand value usually makes it worthwhile!

Still, a penny saved is a penny earned, so here are some ways to minimise the additional charges involved in global shopping:


Most websites provide upfront estimates for international shipping, depending on the type of product, weight and size, as well as the shipping method you choose. Whenever possible, combine multiple orders for the cheapest shipping rate.


Customs duties and GST are charged on any imported products, generally at 10% of declared value plus freight and insurance. Don’t ask for goods to be undervalued or marked as ‘gifts’. This is illegal, and could lead to high fines or penalties.


Many e-commerce websites list prices in local as well as international currencies, but take conversion rates into account for those that don’t. You could end up paying less just by waiting for exchange rates to become more favourable.


PayPal is one of the most widely-used services for global shopping, but many debit cards and credit cards also allow you to make international payments. Check if there are any transaction fees or extra charges involved for doing this.


Freight forwarding companies consolidate and ship multiple packages for international buyers. They’re usually quite expensive, so only use these services if you’re shopping from different sites, or companies that don’t ship to India at all.


As with shopping locally, look for the best deals, coupons and prices on the items you want to buy. Some portals offer discounts or free shipping when you spend a certain minimum amount, and even special limited-time deals for international buyers. Whether you’re shopping for hard-to-find specialty supplies or the latest fashions through an international website, be extra careful. Make sure you’re using a reputable global platform, and take all the costs into account before you!

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