Australia Post is hoping to get a slice of the online shopping pie with a new parcel forwarding service for shoppers buying products only ship to the United States.
ShopMate offers Australian customers the opportunity to buy from online sites that don't offer international shipping, allowing shoppers to use a US delivery address that then forwards parcels onto Australia -- similar to services such as MyUS.
You'll pay a flat fee of AU$24.95 per package, with an additional AU$5.95 charged per 500 grams of weight. This is either measured by the physical weight of the package or the cubic weight (a number that is calculated from the physical dimensions of the package) -- whichever figure is higher will be the final 'weight'.
So, if you order a small but heavy hard drive, you'll pay for the weight of the box, but if you order a bulky teddy bear, you'll pay according to the dimensions of the package, even though it might not be heavy. This is fairly standard practise with international shipping services, and a quick review shows ShopMate's pricing to be on par with other parcel forwarding services.
Once you sign up for an account, you'll get a US delivery address to enter when you're at the checkout of your chosen online shopping. Australia Post then notifies you when the package arrives at the US ShopMate address and ships it on to Australia. Once shipping has been calculated and paid, Australia Post promises delivery to Australia within 5 to 8 business days of it arriving at the ShopMate warehouse.
Australia Post also offers parcel tracking from dispatch to final arrival, and you can also elect to buy extra cover for items up to the value of AU$5,000.
With Australians spending AU$15.7 billion online in the last year alone (based on NAB Online Retail Sales Index figures from August) the launch of ShopMate was an obvious move in the lead up to Christmas according to the company.
"We know that Australian shoppers want access to international brands and products that are not available locally, but importantly they also want an international delivery and payment service they can trust," said Parcel Post General Manager, Kelly Heintz.
Aside from its ShopMate service, Australia Post will also be extending post office trading hours and weekend deliveries for Christmas from November 1.
As ShopMate launches, CNET has pulled together a complete guide to parcel forwarding services that will get your goods from the USA to Australia..