NZPost to boost online retail service

TOM PULLAR-STRECKER
Last updated 05:00 24/09/2012

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New Zealand Post plans to extend its YouShop internet shopping delivery service so Kiwis can easily buy from online retailers based in Europe, Asia and Australia as well as in the United States.

The move is another blow to traditional shop-owners, many of whom argue they are unfairly disadvantaged because most purchases under $400 made through overseas websites are GST and duty-free.

YouShop, unveiled earlier this month, lets Kiwi shoppers buy from US online stores that either won't deliver to New Zealand or have high shipping charges. Shoppers ask for purchases to be delivered to an address in the US, from which NZ Post forwards them to their home.

The service is being provided through a partnership with Singapore Post which runs the warehouse in Oregon used for deliveries.

NZ Post spokesman John Tulloch said Singapore Post had delivery centres in other major markets and NZ Post planned to extend YouShop to support purchases from "several other countries".

It had not intended to market YouShop till next year, but Tulloch said interest had been high since its existence was reported by BusinessDay.

Some customers were frustrated that some US online stores did not accept overseas credit cards, but Tulloch said there was a possible solution for that as well.

In addition to forwarding purchases, Singapore Post also acts as a payment intermediary, through which consumers can buy from sites that have such restrictions.

"They pay the vendor. We haven't got that functionality yet and it is not something in the current plan". But NZ Post might look at it, he said.

Retailers Association spokeswoman Louise Evans McDonald said it wanted the tax-free threshold reduced or eliminated but would not criticise NZ Post for capitalising on the overseas e-shopping trend. "If they weren't doing it, somebody else would be," she said.

US air freight company i-parcel, which runs a competing forwarding service called Prezoom from a warehouse in Delaware, said it would also extend that service "imminently" so New Zealanders would be able to have purchases sent on from a delivery address in Britain.

YouShop charges $23 to forward a 500 gram package from the US. Prezoom charges $19.50, though a Taranaki shopper said patrons should be aware it could charge more for large, light items, after he was surprised by a $28.50 bill for delivery of a 200 gram lightbulb.

Prezoom launched its forwarding service early in September and said last week that 800 New Zealanders had registered within a week, showing there was "real potential for [our] service to become an invaluable tool for Kiwis buying online".

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- The Dominion Post

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