Friday, February 18, 2005

Hail Harmful Competition!


A recent post in Samizdata flagged the low cost of importing stuff to the UK. My experience here in the Sunny Southern EU adds a sobering caveat: elsewhere in the EU, it's way cheaper to import from the US than it is from the UK.

After Amazon.co.uk messed up its inventory over Christmas, I reverted to buying some books from Amazon.com. Without checking costs, just to avoid .co.uk's unpredicted multi- week delays. Today I cranked up Excel to compare the 2 suppliers.

It turns out that, to this part of the EU, shipping costs from Amazon.com are just 25% of shipping costs from Amazon.co.uk! The big difference is shipping and handling, although .co.uk also charges 5% VAT. However, shipping from the US takes a week longer.

Based on this, I'm defaulting to .com, except for rush orders, or shipment to my UK lair.

Here are the numbers for 2 books just received. All costs are in £ - for Amazon.com I use the actual charges on my £ credit card (i.e. including Visa's exchange fees). Sorry aboiut the crap layout, this editor doesn't seem to do tables.

Book 1
Source: Amazon.com
Weight (grams): 400
Package: Amazon single
Base Cost: 5.96
Shipping, handling + tax: 3.07
Time from ship notify to arrival (days): 14

Book 2
Source: Amazon.co.uk
Weight (grams): 430
Package: Amazon single
Book price: 15.99
Shipping, handling + tax: 11.17 (inc 5% VAT)
Time from ship notify to arrival (days): 5

Book 1 was a high quality paperback & Book 2 a modest quality hardback, so don't read too much into the price of the books (other than that the £ is way overvalued against the $).