In 2016 the world was shaken by the news from Great Britain. A referendum took place and the majority of UK citizens voted to exit the European Union. This “Brexit” announcement has spiraled a chain of events, one of which was the fluctuation of currency.
Years ago, when I first started my business, I had a lot of European clients looking to buy things in the United States because of the favorable exchange rate. Today, as the pendulum swung the other way and the dollar grew stronger, ordering goods from Europe is becoming more economical than buying them in US.
Here’s what you need to know about online shopping in Europe:
What to shop for:
European labels, like Valentino, Gucci, Fendi, Dolce & Gabbana and so on, are cheaper in Europe than in the U.S. The opposite is true for American brands.
Although there are several retailers that offer free international shipping (for example, Luisaviaroma) most will charge you between $20 and $40 to deliver your goods. Shipping from Europe usually takes about a week.
Very often, prices online include VAT (tax in EU), which will be deducted upon checkout for someone who does not live in the European Union, thus making the price even cheaper! However, you must account for custom duties
These fees are paid to the US Customs for shipping your goods from overseas and are typically amount to about 10% of the item’s cost, although they can vary depending on the product and country of origin.
Your order may be shipped DDP, meaning delivery duty paid. With this option, custom duties will be either paid during checkout or included in the price of the product listed online. With DDP, you will not pay anything extra on top of for what you pay at checkout.
Your order may also be shipped DDU, which means delivery duty is unpaid. With this option, you will receive your order followed by a bill from the shipping carrier for the duties due. This fee will amount to around 10% of what the item cost.
Bare in mind, that if a store charges you in Euros or Pounds, your bank or credit card company will charge you a 3% fee for currency conversion. This fee will be billed separately and will not be included in purchase price.
Review the return policies carefully prior to placing an order. Sometimes international retailers will offer free returns (for example, Farfetch does), but some stores may not refund you the customs duties you paid. Make sure to check the terms for each store.
Even with all these fees, online shopping in Europe can still be cheaper than prices in the U.S.!
Check out the stores I listed below and browse a selection of products on sale from each:
I’ve mentioned this store many times on this blog and that’s because it has an absolutely amazing selection of designer items, often much cheaper than what they cost in the U.S. It is a network of Italian boutiques bringing you exclusive and hard to find items straight from the source.
A British online retail with free worldwide shipping.
Located in Florence, Italy, this store has one-of-a-kind selection of designer items. They offer free express shipping, prices include all taxes and fees and returns are free!
This site is a worldwide network of 400 luxury boutiques and includes stores from all over Europe, United States and Middle East. It accumulate inventory from all of these stores and allows you to browse and order from any of them conveniently under one website. Keep in mind that if you are ordering multiple items from different boutiques, (the name of the boutique you are ordering from will be listed at checkout) you may pay shipping fees several times because the items are coming from different places. Shipping usually costs between $10 and $25 depending on the boutique; import duties are included and returns are free and very easy to arrange.
Malone Souliers on sale at Matchesfashion
Another UK retailer, Matchesfashion is a very convinient place to shop. It offers free shipping and free returns; duties are included in price and will be refunded in case of a return.
Mytheresa. This online retailer headquartered in Munich boasts super-fast shipping and promises to deliver your order within 72 hours of placing it. It also offers you free returns or exchanges. The store opened back in 2006. It was later bought out by Neiman Marcus group two years ago.
This iconic British retailer that dates back to 1831 offers an online shop with shipping to United States, prices in USD and duties paid at checkout.
A Scottish retailer, offering a variety of brands at moderate prices (comparable to Bloomingdales or Lord & Taylor in the U.S.) Some of the brands it offers include Oasis, Ted Baker, Karen Millen, Dune and so on.
Located in Germany, Stylebop is a great source for variety of brands, both luxury and main street. It offers free shipping and returns; items are shipped DDP.