When it comes to Black Friday sales, everything is bigger and better in the USA.
The country is known for its insane Black Friday deals in stores – and the chaos that follows as shoppers fight to get through the doors first and buy heavily-discounted items.
Online retailers, or stores with ecommerce operations, also offer great Black Friday deals.
Amazon, Walmart, Target, and Best Buy are set to provide large discounts on products this year, with tech items as a particularly popular category for good deals.
The good news is that you can still take advantage of these deals, even if you are based in South Africa.
Shipping from the US
While big retailers like Amazon will let you directly ship certain items to South Africa, many of its products can only be purchased in the US. The same is true for the other big tech retailers.
The service I use is MyUS, and the company sets you up with a “suite” address in Florida, which you send an online shopping order to.
The suite is the company’s warehouse, and after your package arrives, you can check the details through an online portal. Once you have all your items at your US address, you can then ship them to an address in South Africa via the same online portal.
Shipping options include express delivery, which can take only a couple of days, to less expensive economy options – which take longer to deliver.
The last step is then customs clearance.
The courier company who is handling your shipment will contact you about your order and the customs clearance procedure. This will include import duties and VAT payments, and providing them with your ID number or importer’s code.
The important details
Setting up a US address, registering on a US store to buy Black Friday deals, and then shipping the items to their US destination is quite straightforward and there are typically no hidden costs.
Once your order is at your US address and you have checked that everything is in order through your provider’s online portal, you can select a shipping address in South Africa and the desired shipping method – which is also simple and straightforward.
How much you pay and other “hidden” costs, however, must be taken into account before you get down to business.
The fist matter to note is VAT and import duties.
VAT will be added to the price of the product when it is brought into South Africa, while customs duties may also apply to a good. A smartphone, for example, will earn a 9% excise duty when imported to South Africa.
The VAT and import duties you owe will have to be paid to the courier company clearing your items through customs, and must be taken into account when ordering the product from the US.
While an item may only cost “$99” when you order it, the relevant duties will bring that price up.
Second, you must take delivery costs into account.
Large and heavy items are more expensive to ship from the US, so it does not make sense to buy a 75-inch TV in a US Black Friday sale if it is going to cost several thousand rand to ship it to South Africa.
The shipping method you choose will also affect your fee. Express or air-freight deliveries can arrive in SA from the US in just a couple of days, but can be expensive.
Slower shipping methods – all the way down to “budget” options that do not offer tracking and can take 20 days – will be cheaper.
Users can also purchase insurance for their packages.
The image below shows the different price estimates to ship a 5kg package from the USA to South Africa, via MyUS.
Unwrapping your order
The cost and time taken when shipping from the US are not the only factors to consider, though.
When buying an item, particularly a tech item, from the US, you are essentially buying a grey import and will not receive free local support and warranties.
Your items may also have US plugs on them, which means you have to change the plug or buy a US adapter.
Lastly, tech items made for the US can come with geo-restricted services or software – you may be required to set the item up as a “US” device.
It must also be noted that SARS has stated that citizens who bring in more than three import consignments per year will need to apply for an importer’s code.