Online shopping was booming in popularity even before the pandemic. With companies like Amazon offering a huge range of products and a growing number of shipping options, it had become easy to get anything you needed in no time. When COVID regulations made shopping in person impossible, online shopping became the primary approach for millions who, until then, had resisted its pull.
Shopping for luxury items has followed a similar trajectory. People have realised that they can buy luxury products from anywhere in the world with a relatively short waiting time. However, there are still obstacles that make buying luxury goods online more difficult than you’d expect.
Is it worth buying luxury items online? Let’s take a look at the obstacles and how easy it is to overcome them.
Shipping goods from abroad became more difficult during the pandemic because of service delays. Due to lockdown regulations in various parts of the world, the shipping industry could not function as normal. When life began to get back to normal, it seemed like we would see an end to these delays.
The Omicron variant set us back somewhat. While it is not as severe as other variants have been, it spreads quickly. This has led to a shortage of staff available in many industries. Shipping delays have once again led to long waiting times for goods to arrive from abroad, especially over the holiday season.
That said, if you cannot get a luxury item in your home country, waiting a couple of weeks longer than you expected is a small price to pay. Unless you are buying it as a gift or for an occasion, you can probably afford to wait.
Customs (and refunds)
The bigger issue when buying luxury goods from abroad is customs. You will pay a significant amount to customs simply for your purchase to cross the border. Depending on what you are buying, you may end up paying more than the value of the item!
But it’s not the cost of customs that presents the biggest problem. Rather, it is the admin involved and what that means for customer service and returns. Most sellers of luxury goods allow you to pay customs when you purchase from them or on arrival. They facilitate this for you so that you have no issues getting your goods. However, if an item of clothing does not fit or an item does not meet your expectations, returning it can cost you.
Many sellers will make you pay for the price of shipping. Furthermore, getting a refund from customs can be a complicated process and, again, will usually be your responsibility. In other words, if you want to buy luxury items from abroad, you have to be ready to either accept whatever arrives or go through a lengthy (and potentially costly) returns process.
Stores like FARFETCH do a good job with returns and refunds on luxury items, but even they will require you to pay the cost of delivery. The idea of paying for shipping both ways only to end up without your product may make you wary of buying online altogether.
One final issue with buying luxury goods online is that you may have to pay in a foreign currency. Depending on the payment method you use, this may mean extra fees. Furthermore, you may not get the best exchange rate available.
Selling Luxury Goods Online
There are pros and cons to buying luxury goods online, but ultimately you have little choice if you want certain items from abroad. However, what about selling luxury goods online? Is it worth the hassle and added expenses?
The simple answer is yes, it is worth it if you use the best processes. If your intention is to give customers a better experience with customs and deliveries, you may be aiming too high. But you can sell luxury goods using the systems already in place, with certain shipping providers taking care of all the admin if you need them to.
One of the issues you’ll face is currency exchange. When selling luxury goods, margins are incredibly important. Exchange rates that go against you will lower your margins. To prevent this, you can use money transfer companies like Wise (formerly TransferWise).
Wise provides cheap and efficient currency exchange. You can receive payments from buyers through any means using Wise. Since PayPal is extremely popular among sellers, you can transfer money from PayPal to Wise account with no hassle. Not only will you pay low (if any) fees, you’ll also get the best exchange rate on the market.
Luxury Goods Online: The Verdict
Whether you’re buying or selling luxury goods online, the reality is that it is not as easy as it should be in 2022. When selling goods, you have to work with the shipping companies available as well as dealing with customs, and you’ll still be giving your customers a subpar experience.
It is when buying goods, however, that you face the biggest hurdles. Buying items that you are 100% sure about is fairly easy. If you buy something like clothing, on the other hand, you may have to pay to ship your goods back for items that don’t fit. You’ll have to deal with customs to try and arrange a refund so that you’re not left significantly in the red.
Still, certain items are unavailable from any other sources. Buying luxury goods online is therefore worth it, even if it is more difficult than you’d think.