Skip to main content

Buying overseas

Five years ago when I wanted a game I would walk to the local shop and buy it. Some research might have gone in it to find the cheapest shop in the neighborhood but I'd always get my game in a ten kilometer radius from my home. With the discovery of the internet and finding out about online shopping things have changed quite drastically. It's suddenly possible to buy items from your neighboring countries without leaving your home. We can buy some items cheapler in other countries and some items are priced cheaper here.

The UK seems to have much cheaper prices for books, dvds and PC games. There are tons of book shops in the UK which causes a lot of competition and therefore cheap prices. And of course the English book market is a lot bigger than the Dutch one which allows for cheaper mass production. Translations of movies and games is often cited to defend the higher prices in the Benelux. Lots of movies that I buy from the UK come with Dutch subtitles however and not even the game guide is translated for our local versions. It seems clear to me that the reason why pay more is that we are willing to pay more. If enough people would stop buying locally the prices would lower. And with online shops rising we finally can stop buying locally. Consumers seem to be doing just that as an article in the news today mentioned that more and more Christmas gifts are being bought online.

Another reason for the cheaper prices is that shops like are set up in the Channel Islands. There, items which cost less then £18 can be sold tax-free. Perfect to distribute cds and books as you can easily afford to offer these items a lot cheaper than your competition in the rest of Europe. And the ~20% you save on taxes will overcome the shipping costs.

I do wonder how those shops can ship so cheaply. When I take a look at the items are usually cheaper than in Belgium. However the prices to post outside of the UK are enormous. £6 to send a single cd or dvd? That's about the cost of the dvd itself. It's only worth it to buy from amazon in bulk or to buy more expensive items so the shipping costs only make up a small percentage of the total costs. On the other hand, manages to sell me a dvd for €4.5 which includes shipping costs. I've seen even cheaper shops, sells books for €2.06. This has to cover the costs of printing a book, packaging and posting it. And they're using Royal Mail which has been the fastest of any services I have used. Order an item and two days later I have it in my mailbox.

The average book seems to weigh about 340 grams so the cost to send such a package would cost £2.66. It makes me wonder just how it's possible that they can send me a book at those costs and still make a nice profit. A deal with Royal Mail to ship books in bulks seems like a reasonable option. Maybe they're selling some items at break-even or a small loss just to clear their inventory. Space costs money after all. Another way might be to create local distribution centra all over Europe. Seeing how they use royal mail that's obviously not the case but it would form a good solution. These are all just guesses of course, I would like to find out how they really do it.

But no matter how they do it, for us consumers we always win. More and more consumers seem to be finding their way to online shopping which should lower the prices in my own country after a while. Cds, dvds or books have never been so cheap to obtain! At least if you like to read in English...


Popular posts from this blog

The Importance of Customer Support

Team Fortress 2 is now close to three years old and it still has tons of players. I got it out of the dust again to "play a few more rounds" only to notice that I've now put in another 20 hours. It's one of those games I reinstall every half year to play some more. And why did I get it out this time? Well, for the engineer update of course. Just like I got it out last time to enjoy the medic or the heavy update. Taking a look at those hilarious introductions is enough to make me want to play. In fact, those introductions together with Valves "introducing the..." videos are the funniest series I've seen on the net.  Since I haven't played the game in a year there's also a lot of new stuff to do. Extra achievements to get, extra items to get and a few new maps. Oh, and best of all you can now get hats! The continous stream of updates is enough to make old timers revisit the game from time to time.

Besides releasing free upgrades Valve has also ju…

Mirrors Edge - Mirror, mirror on the wall, who's the fastest of them all?

In the near future all of our networks are monitored by a totalitarian government. I'd personally start encrypting all my traffic with 512 bit protocols. Others might start using carrier pigeons. Apparently the men of the future opt to use runners to distribute information. Probably because DICE didn't feel like making pigeon game. 

You are playing Faith, a runner who is discovering the secrets of the regime and is getting high on their Top Ten most wanted list. She'll run from the cops, save her sister, run even more and of course, save the world. The story is told with nicely animated cutscenes but it failed however to keep me really interested. It all felt like something that's just there to sew all the levels together.

The designers opted to choose for a first person experience. This is a bold decision as most platform games are played in third person (think Prince of Persia, Tomb Raider). Melee fighting is also difficult to pull of in first person.  It took me a …

Majesty - The Fantasy Kingdom

Majesty breezed a fresh new wind through the RTS genre ten years ago. Here's a game where you do not control your heroes! Instead you can convince them to help your cause by giving out rewards for killing monsters or raiding lairs. While fighting for your heroes slowly gain levels and power. Loosing a high level wizzard will cause you to care! The original majesty was a great game. It's one of the very few games that I replay once a year. Even now it remains fresh which is helped by the randomized mission generation. So I looked forward to its sequel. Having finished Majesty 2 and nearing the finish of its expansion, Kingmaker I can say that it's still a good game but not great.

What is this game missing that the original had? Charm for the most part. The original characters all had their own personalities. You'd have rogues who were the first to go after any bounty... and the first to flee at the first sight of danger. Muscled barbarians ran around the realm in a grea…