Recently there seems to have been a rush of overseas clothing deliveries to the office, so internet shopping seems to be alive and well on the back of a strong NZ dollar, and despite a huge abundance of garments at the local mall.

Shopping online is great because:

  • You can do it from your couch. With a wine.
  • You can get stuff that not everyone else is likely to have a carbon copy of in their wardrobe
  • You can pick up end of season bargains from the Northern Hemisphere just in time for the beginning of our season

Shopping online is not great because:

  • It might not fit, and it’s a hassle to return
  • It takes a while to arrive, during which time you might encounter post purchase dissonance (yes – it’s a thing)
  • It might be totally different from how it looked on the 12 year old model
  • You might get pinged for GST, duty, international shipping and customs clearance charges which suddenly make your bargain quite costly

Here are a few of my tips for shopping on the internet:

  1. Check the international shipping terms. Some sites like, and will offer free shipping and pay your taxes and duties for you (see links for more info). Others, like will leave that to you to incur and pay.
  2. Be familiar with NZ Customs guidelines. Even they say it is complex! However as a general rule, if the tax & duty comes to less than $60, then they will not collect it. There are some examples on their website – take a look.
  3. Use Pinterest. When browsing online, pin the clothes that take your fancy onto your Pinterest board. Some websites move the clothing around so hunting down that gorgeous blouse, weeks after you initially saw it, may be challenging. If you pin the garment, you can click through to the webpage easily. Also, some sites like JCrew don’t display all the garments via the categories, so it may be available for purchase but you just can’t find it without bookmarking the page using Pinterest.
  4. Favourite stuff. Sites like will let you favourite garments – and then EMAIL YOU WHEN THEY GO ON SALE! Perfect.
  5. Measure yourself when considering sizing. Go on. It may save you a costly return, only to discover your correct size is now sold out. Also learn to read the descriptions and customer reviews – if it says slim fit, then you might want to be conservative in choosing a size.
  6. Read the small print. Although it is great to get the end of season bargains, many sale items cannot be returned. That’s why they are on sale!
  7. Know what suits you. Even though it is ever-so tempting to buy that latest fluro top with the asymmetrical cut, if it doesn’t suit your skin colouring or your body shape, then don’t do it.

NZ Post has recently launched a service called You Shop which allows you to buy goods from US websites using a US delivery address and send to NZ. Shipping costs are based on a flat fee ($12.50 plus the parcel weight ($21 p/kg), so you need to know how how heavy your shipment will be. Great for US websites that don’t ship to NZ. Be careful though, duty, GST and customs clearance fees still apply. The example given for a pair of jeans was NZ$75 in shipping costs. Plus the GST, duty etc. Plus the cost of the actual jeans! Many websites have free international shipping so it is worth taking a few moments to check these out and compare the total costs. Also note that YouShop will not ship anything heavier than 30kg or over NZ$2,499, so don’t go mad in IKEA.

And remember, lots of local and Australian designers also have online shops that can save you a trip to the mall: Karen Walker, Workshop, CountryRoad, Witchery, Max and even Glassons.

Pro tip: Always be nice to your courier person.


20 January 2013: Edited

I’ve noticed that NZ Customs have now added a Duty Estimator calculator to their website to help you figure out how much you might be stung for when you order arrives in NZ:

Also, NZ Post YouShop seems to have dropped it’s prices since this blog was originally written. Jeans bought in USA are now quoted as $45.75 shipping from US to NZ.