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Imagine a world where international boundaries never interrupted your shopping flow. Where limited-edition collections at Colette and exclusive Comme des Garçons wallets are completely within reach. Live in LA and want a gaggle of French pharmacy goodies? No problem. Want to buy Valentino flats for less than Saks is selling them? Get them sent direct from Italy! Everything from the Australian souvenir you left behind to the cult British product you read about poolside could be yours without having to lift a goddamn finger. Now, stop blowing your brainpower, because this dreamworld is one you’re currently living in.
Considering we order morning coffees from our cell phones and post livestreams of consciousness, it was only a matter of time before the internet closed in on itself, making the process of grabbing goodies from far-flung destinations as easy as clicking a few buttons. What’s surprising, though, is that it’s not Amazon or FarFetch bringing you everything you could possibly want from boutiques, designers and department stores worldwide—it’s ShopAndBox, a 19-month old company you’ve probably never heard about until now.
ShopAndBox connects power shoppers and in-the-know buyers from around the globe in an effort to make anything attainable, no matter where you live. In Silicon Valley speak, it’s a "peer-to-peer shopping service", but essentially, it’s a glorious company filled with Céline bag sherpas and fellow drugstore beauty devotees. Discovering ShopAndBox is like having an international pen pal, shopping savant and personal drug mule wrapped up into one—except it’s completely legal, and the clean-cut whites you’re talking about are of the Saint Laurent Sac De Jour variety.
Here’s how it works. Users submit what items they want—exclusive sneakers from France, no-budge eyeliner from Japan—and are paired with a multilingual boxer with similar shopping interests in that territory. The founders compare this matching to a dating service, allowing the pair to discuss discounts and regional goods they otherwise wouldn’t know about, like two far-flung friends (and retail lovers) might. Sounds like the most stylish episode of Catfish to date, sure, but it's surprisingly safe. There are currently 50 boxers in over 17 countries, all of whom are vetted and interviewed by the ShopAndBox team, and exchanges are done through PayPal—which has built-in buyer protection up to $10,000 USD. Similarly-minded friends, seasonal sales, and no heavy bags to carry back to the hotel? Looks like you don’t even need to be back-handedly felt up by a TSA employee to enjoy the overseas shopping trip of your dreams.
Convenience like this will, of course, come with a price—any applicable domestic shipping, flat-rate DHL shipping, and a sliding scale service fee between 10% and 14%—which is reasonable, considering nothing is truly out of the realm of possibility. Adidas kicks that are only available overseas. Korean skin creams you’d book a layover in order to nab. Horse-shaped Hermes keychains. Those aren’t suggestions, either — these are real orders that ShopAndBox’s casually voyeuristic site allows you to confirm have gotten from point A to point B. (The website does also look suspect and rather scammy, but it won’t for long; a full redesign will be live in the next few weeks.)
The majority of ShopAndBox’s users are from Australia, Singapore and Malaysia and, if their Instagram behavior is indicative of anything, they're clamouring for the palettes and products we’re lucky enough to swoop into Sephora to buy. And speaking of, the pictures on @ShopandBox read like a one-hit haul video: piles of MAC makeup, collections of face masks, and the holy grail of Urban Decay shadow palettes. Just try not to feel like binge-shopping after a few jaw-dropping clicks.
ShopAndBox’s roots may be deeply long-distance, but there’s no reason why we can’t begin taking deep advantage of the site stateside. Think about all those French pharmacy goods they hype in Elle. She can get them for you. Or how about those Korean skincare goodies people won’t STFU about, despite how tricky they are to find stateside? She’s on top of it, and can even throw in boy band lipstick and bulgolgi chips. Boxers are trained to take full advantage of flat-rate minimums and will let you know how much extra room is inside your box , so you can tack on those regional snacks and drugstore favorites for no additional international fee.
Even wilder is that the platform’s perks don’t stop there. If you’re a discount queen or raise the question of price-per-wear only when beneficial—basically, if you read Racked—you know the weird mental game that is shopping economics. Any savvy purchaser knows that it’s cheaper to buy luxury items in their country of origin, and ShopAndBox’s economics are about to get you in a whole lot of trouble, because you can now buy everything in its country of origin. This is so game-changing that ShopAndBox introduced Price Comparison Tuesday on their blog, a feature that will convince you, with numbers, that you really shouldn’t buy high-ticket items at home. In Australia, MAC lipstick costs over $11 more than it does stateside, so you can only imagine the savings when it comes to Valentino flats or Chanel satchels.
Currently, the blog highlights mostly overseas discounts, but within the US, ShopAndBox-ing can become even more detailed, and therefore, more lucrative. Shoppers in states with high tax rates have been using the service to purchase high-price items state-side with no tax rates (seriously!), making border-hopping back home ripe for its own massive monetary bonuses.
Now, it’s not perfect. A browse through other users’ communication shows how people can ghost like a sleepy friend at a birthday party when they see the the final price of YSL Tributes looming in their inbox. But, boxer experience aside, it’s this simple brilliance that makes their platform so intriguing. Linking people up to buy an Apple Watch or limited-edition dress that isn’t available in your country is one thing. Optimizing pricing by getting a shopper to pick up luxury goods in their country of origin or ship them over state lines is a whole different one. And those whackenomics, ones that no one but a diehard shopper would understand, is what makes ShopAndBox so promising.
If you’re unsure how much of a game change this platform may be, I asked the founders if they had a noteable ShopAndBox story or two. They sent me 17. There’s one about a Hong Kong shopper getting her Jenny Packham wedding dress through a UK boxer, and one about a stationery store owner stocking her shop by teaming up to ShopAndBox wholesale product from China. There’s another about an Australian shopper who had her French boxer pick a limited edition Tom Ford eyeshadow palette—during her vacation to Ireland. The French expat in Malaysia missing home and getting Comte express-delivered to him is a personal favorite. It’s a secretive underground world, created for everyday people, with full access to finally let you build a wardrobe on-par with a jet-setting style blogger. Only, you won’t have to unearth a passport and shill for a mainstream mall brand in order to do it.