|nikki ♫ (fascinates) wrote in ofurotaimu,|
@ 2011-01-15 06:05 pm UTC
|Entry tags:||! guide|
note 1: I will not be talking about shopping assistance for comilket/vomas, since it's an entirely different thing. This will only be about items sold in online shops.
note 2: As most utaite and producers discourage auctions (like Clear), and because of my inexperience with it, I will also not discuss auctions and how to bid on them using these services.
What is a deputy service?
- A deputy shop/service is a third-party site which will help you order from shops that do not accept shipping outside Japan. Aside from the shops mentioned above, it also includes auctions (Y!J, mbok, etc.), specialty shops (Melonbooks, etc.) and even real shops located in Japan. Basically, you tell them what you want from what shop and they will order it for you with a commission fee.
How do deputy services work?
- Basically, your product will be ordered and be sent to you in these steps:
1. You register in the site/service.
2. You ask them to buy whatever you want (by giving links in the order forms).
3. They give you the list of fees you have to pay (will be discussed below) and you need to either pay it in full or partial.
4. They will order for you and notify you when they manage to do so. (This can interchange with #3, as they can order first before you are made to pay.)
5. The product is mailed to their storehouse in Japan.
6. They will notify you that your product has arrived. If you live near Japan, chances are they will ship from there. If not, they will send the product to their storehouse in US and from there, they will send it to you.
7. You are asked to pay for shipping fees unless you have an initial deposit (will be discussed below). Most of the time, the shipping is EMS, but there are some services where you can choose shipping method.
8. They will mail the product to you.
Why is using deputy services expensive?
- They are expensive to the point that you can pay up to 2.5 times as much compared to when you just directly order online. This is because of the fees you have to pay:
1. Commission fee: This is the fee you have to pay them for ordering for you. The lesser popular the site you're ordering from, the more likely that the fee is slightly larger. Usually, it ranges from $5-$12. Some shops charge per item, while some charge per batch order.
2. Bank Wire fee: This is the fee you have to pay for them paying for your order. This is, more often than not, $2-$3.
3. Sales Tax fee: This is the 5% sales tax which is compulsory in web shops.
4. Internal Shipping fee: This is the fee you have to pay them for receiving your item in their Japan storehouse. Basically, you have to pay for the seller shipping the item to them. This can be from $5-$10.
5. International Shipping fee: This is the fee you have to pay to receive your item. The price is dependent on the mail service they use. Usually, it is EMS. It is a bit expensive, but your item is secured and tracked.
Why do some deputy services ask me to pay first before I can even order?
- This deposit secures your account and is usually used for bidding or if you ask them, for paying for your items. Most of the time, it's just for good measure to make sure you're someone they can trust.
What kind of payment to they accept?
- Paypal is the most popular way of paying for deputy services, although some also accept direct credit card payment, money orders and bank transfers, depending on the service or your location. Most of them accept only USD and Yen as payment.
What are some of the downsides of using deputy sites?
- Aside from the expensive fees, there are also these:
1. You cannot cancel webshop orders when they have already confirmed them.
2. You have to pay as soon as possible when they notify you, because some shops add fees the longer you let your product stay in their storehouse.
3. It might take a longer time to ship the item to you due to the roundabout way it is held.
Aside from buying from webshops, what can deputy sites do?
1. They can bid in Japanese auctions for you.
2. They can buy in RL Japanese stores for you as long as you describe properly what you want to buy.
3. They can pre-order for you.
4. They can sell you stuff (yes, some of them do have their own shops) in a cheaper price.
5. They can help you look for webshops where you can buy the stuff you want (especially if they are rare).
Below is a list of some of the better known deputy shops. I cannot say which is the best one because it depends on where you live or where you order from. Some of them have downsides (like you can't ship directly from Japan and you have to pay a lot for shipping, etc). so it's up to the buyer to look for the shopping service that will suit their needs the most. In order to find a suitable deputy service for you, you need to:
1. Ask for an estimate/quote. It wouldn't hurt to e-mail them and ask for an estimate of how much they will charge you for ordering from a shop, especially if it is an unknown shop/product. Most of them reply readily and amiably.
2. Compare prices. There are many sites to choose from, so try computing which shop would ship for the least fee to your location.
3. Be careful. There are a lot of deputy sites out there, but not all of them are trustworthy. They all have FAQs and all of them have contact numbers (US-based) or e-mail, so don't be afraid to ask if you have anything you do not understand!
4. Do not buy on impulse. Make sure the things you buy through a deputy shop are those that aren't really sold in shops that have international shipping. Unless they are very rare / not available in international shops they are not worth using deputy sites for.
• Noppin ( http://www.noppin.com/ )
- advantages (profile)
- shopping service faq/steps
- general fees
• Celga ( http://www.celga.com/ )
- shopping faq
- fees faq
• Shopping Mall Japan ( http://shoppingmalljapan.com/ )
- general fees
- ordering tutorials
• Goody-Japan ( http://goody-japan.com/ )
- commision fees
- shipping fees
- clefairy has a general review of the service here.
• Japamart ( http://www.japamart.com/ )
- shopping faq + general fees
- shipping fees
• Treasure Japan ( http://treasure-japan.com/ )
• Japan to Door ( https://www.japantodoor.com )
- ordering faq
- general fees faq
• From Japan
- lluvia has an amazing review of the service here.
• Other Lesser-known Stores:
- Masato IWS
- Japan Auction Agency
From all of those, I have only used the first three. Here are my thoughts on them for those who are curious:
+ this is the best deputy shop for beginners, as they are very quick to respond and are very accommodating.
+ you can ask individual questions and they will answer you readily.
+ they are very strict when it comes to notifying you of the status of your order, from the point of ordering it until it is ready for shipment; you can also check the status via their bbs.
+ they are very careful with your items and they will use the package suitable for the amount, size of your items.
- they are more expensive than the other deputy services, make sure you buy in bulk if you want to save money.
- you need to pay on time.
- you need to pay an initial deposit before you can order.
- since their website changed (from crescent to noppin) there had been some irregularities when it comes to payment. but this can easily be resolved by asking them personally.
Shopping Mall Japan
+ they are quick to answer your orders and also quick to ship.
+ it's pretty easy ordering from them because of the automatic system
+ their fees are not as steep as other shops and even cheaper if you order from just 1 shop + by bulk.
+ if you live in Asia, they will send the items to you straight from Japan, so you save time, especially if it's fast mail (like EMS).
- since they're automated, it's kind of hard to ask questions and request special treatment of product.
- they almost always pack your products in boxes, no matter if they're doujinshis or magazines or CDs, so expect large packages and a little more expensive shipping.
+ they answer questions readily and sometimes are willing to give estimates.
+ they aren't as strict with fees as with other sites.
+ they pack stuff well and carefully.
- they are more expensive than the others
- sometimes they "forget" that you have items so you might need to bug them about it instead of the other way around ^^;.
Currently, I'm using Crescent and Shopping Mall Japan. Both of them order from Toranoana, Animate and Three!! and you can also ask them to order from even lesser-known sites. So far there are only minimal problems with them, just that they are really expensive in total. Well, it is the price to pay, I think ^^;.
If you have any questions or if you can give a review on some of the other sites (listed or not), feel free to post them in the comments. Thank you to southerncross, serenato and waowao who had introduced me to deputy sites and how to use them ♥.