CHOICE membership

Do you shop online?

CHOICE is investigating consumers’ online shopping habits, and we’d like to hear from you!

We’re interested in finding out what products Australians are buying from overseas websites, and whether those products are available in stores here.

Do you shop online? If you do, are the things you buy available in stores here?

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I buy my shampoo and moisturiser from iHerb because the environmental information on products is more complete and available at the SkinDeep website: https://www.ewg.org/skindeep/site/about.php and iHerb stocks them. Shipping is cheap and quick too.

If and when those products are available in the stores here, they tend to be exorbitantly priced.

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Yes. I often buy clothing from online overseas store as they don’t have a shop here. Some examples: Hollister, Abercrombie, and ASOS :stuck_out_tongue:

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I have bought 3 different backpacks online in an effort to find a sling backpack that is comfortable but also sufficiently commodious and secure for travelling with IT necessities like handphone and small laptop/tablet. So far no luck finding quality sling back packs in Aus.

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I buy all sorts such as a car GPS/camera/etc, reversing cameras, cabling, lots of computer components, USB memory cards, headlamps (lights to wear on one’s head), batteries, music stand, bicycle stands,… etc.

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I only buy things online which are NOT available in local stores. Some items I have purchased are cheaper to buy online than locally : books, for example.

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I’m an electronics/computer hobbyist, my spouse is a textile crafter. We’re pensioners, so we’re on limited budgets. We’re also quite determined to buy as much as we can locally. We buy most of our dairy, meat, vegetables, and bread fresh and locally, or at the local food hub, and that costs a little more. But we also don’t spend unnecessary money on processed foods so it balances. It leaves us without much money to spend frivolously.

So when it comes to items for our hobbies, we find over and over again that if an item is even available here, it’s generally two (and sometimes as much as five or more) times as expensive as the same item bought online and from overseas sources. Same item, half or quarter price. that’s pretty persuasive.

Things like small electronics components, microprocessor boards, yarns and dyes, and smaller craft items, all fall under this “not essential, not affordable at domestic prices” category. And I’ve done the pricing and even things such as plumbing fittings, home repair / DIY, kitchen and cleaning equipment, and clothes are far cheaper online than in stores. What’s a person to do?

So we’ll keep buying locally, but when it comes to buying items produced overseas, imported to Australia by companies whose main offices are overseas, and paying their markups - we’d rather go to the source and cut out the middleman.

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I recycle old cameras, and buy a lot of small items - like battery chargers online - usually from China and Hong Kong. Locally a genuine item would be $60, non-genuine $25 - or non-genuine delivered free from China - $6. No real choice for me, as I am on a fixed income. What gets me though is that if I need to post that charger on to my customer, the postage alone is $8.25!! It can take 5 weeks to come from China by standard mail, but it must be virtually free postage paid by the Chinese. (I sometimes purchase small items like memory card adapters, that cost $2 including postage.
I think our postage charges by the rampant Australia Post (whose CEO gets a salary of $9mill?) but who grant peppercorn rates to overseas companies, is biasing the market against local suppliers

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We live in a small country town. Often, this forces us to source products online that are readily available in metropolitan areas.

I buy a lot of small goods (electronics, art supplies, tools) online but try to buy off Australian suppliers if it’s viable. I prefer the protection of Australian consumer laws should I have an issue. And postage from overseas can take weeks.

There are a lot of products that are cheaper online if you’re prepared to buy in bulk: razor blades, herbs and spices, hardware supplies, etc.

I’d say 50% of my purchases are online (excluding food and groceries)

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I purchase a wide range of items online from overseas suppliers as they are not available locally and/or are substantially cheaper even after postage costs. Mostly gifts. These include antiques/collectibles, cosplay items, books, home decor items, fashion clothing items, handbags/purses, makeup, small electronic items and novelty gifts. About 80% of those items are via eBay, 10% Amazon, and the rest from well known brand stores. Local purchases online include larger household appliances/electronics/whitegoods, furniture, home hardware items, clothing and groceries. If the item is cheaper (after postage costs) and readily available in Australia I prefer to buy locally.

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Hey @SarahAgar

I like to search out what is available online to check products and prices. As a gross generalization, and with some notable exceptions, Australian websites do not list all their available products. Mainly they list current sale items. This makes it nigh on impossible to find an item in Australia when searching online. Whereas on o/s websites they seem to list their whole inventory.

One example is I bought some 8000 (yes, eight thousand) lumen headlamps for bike riding for under $25 each delivered to my door. Headlamps of this power didn’t seem to be available here when I was searching on-line. Very often, the Australian online ads didn’t even specify lumen, so it is impossible to know what they are offering. And, for $25 I couldn’t buy much if I went to the store. Guessing only, but I suspect that an equivalent headlamp to the one I bought would cost in the order of $250-300 here. Just doesn’t compare does it?

As in the example above, it is cheaper to have a product delivered to my door from overseas than it is to go to the store (if I know where to buy it) and purchase it. This of course does not include the cost of my time searching stores and transport to and from the store.) If I were to go the route of having it delivered from an Australian outlet, then the price of postage/courier can be outrageous. (No wonder Australia Post is going backwards. Perhaps if they paid their CEO and other senior executives less?)

This is why I find the bleating of Gerry Harvey so vexing. If Australian businesses got their finger out and caught up with the electronic age they may attract buyers, and halt or even reverse the trend of buying from overseas.

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We buy online, with a preference for local goods. The convenience is key - when you work full-time, it is simply easier to get stuff delivered. That being said, we buy from overseas probably 50% of the time.
As others have indicated, the main driver is price: Video games (in our case XBox); clothes; shoes in particular. If they are available in Australia, it is at at least a 50% premium, often twice as much. The most recent purchase we made saved us $100AUD. It becomes more ridiculous when you consider that the video games are purchased as digital downloads, from an online store, so there is no postage or overhead. We still find there is an “Australia Tax” on most items. This forces us to consider a VPN or other way of accessing the overseas pricing.
To borrow from the wonderful White Pages Ad: Not Happy Jan…

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Hey @meltam, I’ve also noticed that some Australian retailers don’t list their full stock on their online store - so frustrating, especially when I know they sell a particular thing and can’t find it on their website! I also end up shopping at overseas-based online stores partially because of this.

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I always look online first to check pricing, then purchase online for delivery or local pick up, depending on the item. I buy online goods from Australian and overseas sites. I’m looking for the best price. Types of goods I buy vary, here is a list of some of the things I buy.

Remote Control models and equipment: - Banggood (China), Hobbyking (China) RC online sites, USA, Europe, China.
3D printing Equipment and parts: - Kogan and other Australian sites, Hobbyking (China), 3D Printer suppliers, USA
Xbox games: - MightyApe Australia (could be in NZ), Ozgamer, UK
Ebay Australia, - Various items. Australia, China.
Electronic components: - Ebay Australia, Australia, China, Banggood (China)

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I buy medications on line because our corrupt system of drug regulation means that many are not available here or are criminally expensive. I recently tried an experimental treatment for MS that involved 3 antibiotics. One of these cost $8 / pill. I sourced them from India, where they are made, and got the amount needed for around $200 in 9 days and a phone call from India to make sure I had received them a week later. This saved me about $1400. Other MS medications like Fingolimod are available here for about $3000 for 4 weeks supply or about $100/ pill. In Australia the Therapeutic Goods Administration
(TGA) will only consider whether to approve a drug if the “sponsor” (the company making
it) “…applies and supplies supporting documentation.” This and 1960’s attitudes to
drugs that have been used recreationally is why so many symptomatic treatments like
Sativex are available in countries such as the USA, Canada, the UK, Spain and New
Zealand but not here.

You would be mad not to be shopping on line for medications.

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I use Strawberrynet for perfume and cosmetics that you can buy in Australia, but are cheaper to buy overseas. I sometimes buy books from the US or UK if they are cheaper or not available here. I also buy clothes from overseas sites.

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I tend to buy online when the product is not available in shops, trying to buy Australian products. However, when there is free shipping, I will buy from overseas. It amazes me that shipping from UK is free but from another state in Australia could double the cost of the item. Often I find that often the product may be cheaper but the cost of shipping prohibits me buying it.

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I buy software from overseas simply because there’s no local supplier. Otherwise I buy locally, mostly computer gear, camera kit, cat’s flea treatment, wine, DVDs.

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I buy eBooks on line otherwise I buy locally.

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Yes, especially if the item range and choice are not available, including everything from perfume, bow ties to photos for our walls when we were selling our house. Sometimes they are listed on an Australian site, but are coming from overseas with an agent in Australia. This was the case of dining chairs.

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