Sunday, January 10, 2010

Shop Smart. Shop Japan Smart.

If you like to buy Japanese stuff (tea ceremony tools, Gundam model kits, etc.) but live outside of Japan and don't know anyone who lives there, it probably feels like you're restricted to only buying things from Ebay or English websites, which can get quite pricey at times and not have as much selection as you'd have in Japan.

However, with the help of a shopping service you can start bidding on Japanese-language auctions or shopping on Japanese sites. A shopping service is a third-party middleman who works with you to buy or bid on the item you want, their profit coming from a service and/or commission fee.

Celga, CrescentShop are Rinkya are a few, and there are more out there. Some tips for a good shopping service experience:

-Google the company for user reviews and experiences.
-Carefully read how their service works and how the process goes.
-How long has the company existed?
-How quick are they to respond to your first email?
-Check their calendar, as Japan has several week-long vacation periods, to make sure they'll be open when you need them.
-Do their shipping fees seem reasonable? (As a note, Japan's general postal rates for international shipping tend to be higher than America's.)
-What are their policies regarding mistakes and lost packages?

Once you find one you're happy with, try them out first with a small, inexpensive item on your wish list. That way, when it comes down to the big item you really want, you'll feel more comfortable and confident working with them.

Good luck and happy shopping!

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