If you’re an American, the prospect of free shipping when you buy online isn’t all that exhilarating. Amazon has been offering free shipping within the US forever now (in some form or another), and there are plenty of other websites that do the same. But for international shoppers, shipping is often a major pain: Items can be much cheaper on the Web than in your country, but once you factor in the shipping, so-called “killer” deals start looking much less attractive. That’s the key attraction behind some of the best websites that offer free international delivery: Suddenly, the sticker price you see on the product is exactly what you’ll have to pay (barring annoying local taxes, in some cases…).
Such websites face two issues, though: One is that they’re as rare as unicorns. The other is that once you finally find them, they’re usually not very good. So rather than present you with a roundup of a 35 so-so websites that offer free international shipping in some form, I’ve chosen to showcase just the three that are the best in their respective niches: Gadgets, books, and clothing.
For Gadgets and Gear: DealExtreme (DX)
If you’ve ever had any sort of curiosity about stores offering free international shipping, you’ve no doubt come across DealExtreme, also known as dx.com. On the surface, DealExtreme is not much different from other sites in its niche, like DHgate. But once you dig in, the differences become apparent. One of the key risks in buying cheap items online is, naturally, the quality of the product. That’s where DealExtreme’s product reviews come in handy:
This particular review snippet comes from the reviews for a screwdriver. Of course, just about every website has a review feature — but the trick is finding a site enough people use so that there actually are reviews for many of the items. When shipping with DX, it’s quite easy to find reviewed items, and as far as I can see the reviews seem honest and balanced. If you’re looking to buy a cheap Android tablet, this is a good place to look.
DX actually has a huge catalog, with more than just gadgets and gear: You can also find apparel, home and garden goods, car accessories, and more. That said, the site is definitely geared towards the nerdy set, with a wealth of knock-off Android phones, electronics repair tools, and more.
For Books: Book Depository
From the epitome of cheap, we go to something completely different: Actual paper books, at prices which are not always cheap, but can be surprising.
This is Book Depository, an online bookshop that prides itself on global reach, thanks to its free shipping policy. Right on the front page, you’ll find a world map where you can see what people are buying all over the world, in real time:
If you use a website like Goodreads to figure out what to read next, the Book Depository is a natural companion (especially if you’re outside of the US). For me, the solution for getting books internationally delivered for free was to simply skip delivery altogether, by switching to a Kindle. I do know that some people say that just isn’t the same — the allure of a physical dead-tree book is powerful indeed. The Book Depository offers an enormous catalog, and not all of it is expensive: For example, at the time of this writing, you can find David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas on sale for $10.30, including worldwide shipping of course. That’s not too bad — in fact, it’s cheaper than the Kindle edition (!) that currently sells for $11.99. So if you’re patient and insistent, you may be able to find some compelling deals here.
For Clothing: Asos
Buying clothes online is an art-form, really. Figuring out how something’s going to look on you (versus on a model’s body with perfect lighting) is no mean feat. If you’re up for the challenge, however, Asos is one website to check out (not to be confused with the Taiwanese hardware maker bearing a similar name). We’ve actually mentioned Asos back in 2011, and the site is still going strong.
As you can see, the prices are definitely “fashion” prices — $85 for a pair of shorts isn’t exactly a bargain-basement rate. But you can find compelling deals if you look for them:
(That’s not a banner, by the way — that’s just a page off the site.) Asos offers compelling fashion across a wide range of categories. It may not be the best place for shoppers with simple tastes, but if you’re into brands, well, I just spotted a Polo Ralph Lauren Backpack for $280 there, off a list price of $432 ($150 of savings — not too shabby).
Are There Any More Of These?
Help me, readers: Are there any more high-quality websites offering free global shipping? Which really good ones did I miss?
Image credit: Free delivery via Shutterstock
Explore more about: Online Shopping.