From the moment I saw the Memebox Korea website, with its frantic display of goods and prices to die for, I was a girl with a dream: to be able to buy my favorite LJH Tea Tree Essence in bulk from the site at the cost of $16 per bottle plus shipping (vs. $38 with free shipping on the US-Exclusive Memebox site).
I knew that buying services existed, but the ones I had run into seemed a bit idiosyncratic and their handling fees of about 20% negated just about any discounted prices I could find.
And then I found Avecko. Avecko is a Korean cosmetics online shop that also offers a buying service. The online shop carries some of the most coveted brands such as Sulwhasoo and Su:M37 with free shipping for orders over $45. Ok, that’s nice, but a little too high end for me. I’m after skin-saving dermocosmetics from my new skincare obsession, Leejiham.
The magical portal into Korean online shopping freedom comes from the Avecko buying service, featured heavily on the site. Basically, they’re your proxy shopper. You tell them what you want and can’t get, and they buy it and send it to you. The Avecko staff can also hunt for an item that you request, but I knew exactly what and where to find the items I wanted: the Meme-K site, so I selected the Buying Service. Here’s a photo guide to the process:
I. REQUEST FORM
Important things to note!
- The 10% handling fee is based on the value of the items you order.
- If the online store you’re ordering from charges to ship the item to Avecko in Korea, that charge is your responsibility.
- Once the items arrive at Avecko, they will be placed into one box, weighed, you’ll be sent the invoice for the weight of the combined items in the box, and then your one box will be sent to you. This means you can actually combine orders from different Korean online shops while paying one international shipping fee.
- Customs are on you.
Each of the purple tabs is a step in the ordering process that you’ll need to complete. If you have only, say, one item, that’s ok, too.
First step: personal information. This is preliminary; more info about your shipping address, etc. will be collected later.
Second step: Product 1
OK, this is where copy and paste gets really useful because I’m slow as molasses when typing Korean on a regular keyboard. I had been browsing the Memebox Korea site, so I knew what I wanted. I visited that page and grabbed the info I needed.
Some resources for shopping on Korean websites:
- Google Translate, obviously–although a lot of Korean shopping sites are composed of images, not copy and pasteable text.
- Currency converter. Right now the exchange rate charged by Avecko is 1,000 won to $1, which is very, very fair.
- Introduction to Hangul, the Korean alphabet: I learned the alphabet by reading the Hangul wikipedia page. On the Memebox site tons of the information is actually in English, but spelled using the Korean alphabet. If you know the alphabet, which was developed by a 15th-century king so that women and poor folk would be able to read and write (it’s meant to be dead simple and its logic is brilliant), you’ll be able to sound your way through much of it. I highly recommend trying it out–it’s very empowering!
- virtual Korean keyboard
Paste in the info:
Steps 3 and 4:
Keep entering your data. If you have already entered all of the products you want to buy just keep pressing next, no stress.
Step 5: More products.
OK, this is really cool. When I placed my order there were only three product tabs, so I asked the person handling my order how shoppers might be able to buy more at once. And now I see that there’s an infinite shopping option!!! WHOA! In that case, it looks like you’d just follow the text format here to infinity. SWEET.
Enter more information about where to ship your package.
Press submit. You should see a page with all of your information there for review before you press submit again to make your request official.
Press submit to make your request.
Important: you should receive an email confirming the receipt of your request shortly after you press submit on this page. If you don’t, your order has not been received. The ordering form wasn’t letting me past option 6 when I first tried to order and I didn’t receive a confirmation–that’s not correct. What’s great is that I let the person who was helping with my order know about the form error a few days ago and it’s clearly been fixed already WAAAH! I was finally able to order using Internet Explorer, but it looks like the form is working just fine for Chrome now.
The request confirmation email you receive will look something like this:
II. PAYING FOR THE ITEMS AND HANDLING FEE
I placed my request 6 August and I heard back from a shopping assistant 8 August. She let me know that the mask packs (product 3 in my order) actually had three different types I could choose from and she helpfully translated the options for me–WAAAH! I was so thankful, and surprised that I had missed that part. She also included the bill, which was extremely clear.
Since I ordered enough from one shop, the Korean Memeshop, I didn’t have to pay for shipping within Korea woo!!! At this point, I could only pay for the items I’d ordered, the domestic shipping charge to Avecko, and the handling fee, which I find to be really good, especially considering the help I received. Oh–and I was able to just put my three mask type selections in the ordering note box when paying this bill and the shopping assistant made the right selections for me. The email I received had a link to pay the bill (which was linked to my Avecko account)–I added the items to my cart (they were specially “created” for me with photos from the Memebox site and everything) and paid using PayPal. I received a receipt from PayPal and Avecko with the full details for the transaction shortly after hitting submit. Easy.
III. PAYING FOR INTERNATIONAL SHIPPING
So I paid for my items and handling on 8 August and by 12 August the items had already arrived from the Memeshop (way to go everyone!). I received an email saying that a note had been added to my order:
The link right there was to the international shipping charge for my order so I could add it to my cart and check out to pay it. What I really appreciate about this message is that the weight of the box is listed right in the message to me. I really appreciate the transparency regarding the whole shopping experience–this is completely the opposite of the idiosyncratic shopping services that scared me off before. I rushed out of bed to pay my shipping fee. I received a receipt from PayPal and Avecko for my international shipping purchase. Then I received two emails saying that my orders from 8 August (items + handling) and 12 August (international shipping) were complete. Finally, I received an email saying that a note had been added to my order; the note was the tracking number for my package. SCORE! I could track my package on the ePOSTg site while it was in Korea, then on the site for the USPS, the domestic postal service in the United States. What I noticed while waiting for my shipment to hit the US was that the package would be sent by 1-day mail within the US–that’s pretty premium shipping even for domestic packages, so I really really don’t think Avecko is charging more than it costs them to ship. I wonder about other shops to be honest.
Avecko announces on their website that they participate in a new, faster shipping program and it’s GREAT! The package was labeled 12 August and it arrived today, 19 August despite the fact that Korea had a major national holiday for at least one day last week–maybe two? I think that this type of shipping is EMS? I’m not entirely sure. Anyway, it’s awesome. Totally next-level.
IV. RECEIVE YOUR ORDER OMG!!
Your order will arrive. It will be joyous. Check everything over and cry happy tears.
Product 1: LJH Tea Tree 90 Essence 50ml + LJH Tea Tree 80 Cream 50ml with a Tea Tree Mask (option 4)
Product 2: LJH Tea Tree 90 Essence 50ml (option1) I bought extra of this because I’ve tried it before and I love it. Read my ingredient list translation and review of it here.
Product 3: Alicia Modeling Jelly Mask. I have no idea what this even is, but it looked fun and it wasn’t expensive so hey. It looks like it’s on sale now, so even better woo! It looks like you mix this with water and create a flexible jelly mask. I’ll review it.
For the sake of simplicity, I’m going to count the LJH mask as a freebie, each of the essences as 1 product, the cream as 1 product, and the three masks as 1 product. So 4 products in my order–I’ll divide the handling charges and international shipping between them evenly.
Handling: $5.27/4 = $1.32 per product
Shipping: $18.55/4 = $4.64 per product
WHAT I PAID
LJH Tea Tree Essence 90 50ml: $15.90 + $1.32 + $4.64 = $21.86 per bottle
compared to: $38 with free shipping in the US-only Memeshop, $27.54 including free worldwide shipping from eBay seller blueprint21 (I’ve had very good experiences with this seller and they carry some really cool items)
LJH Tea Tree Cream 80 50ml: $13.10 (I’m just subtracting the essence from the combo price for the sake of simplicity; in reality the cream always costs significantly more than the essence) + $1.32 + $4.64 = $19.06
compared to: $38 with free shipping in the US-only Memeshop, $35.14 including free worldwide shipping from eBay seller blueprint21
Alicia Modeling Packs: $7.80 + $1.32 + $4.64 = $13.76 total, $4.59 per pack
this product doesn’t seem to be offered for international sale elsewhere
WHY I’LL DO THIS AGAIN
As the price breakdown shows, using a buying service makes economic sense. If I’d have bought the two essences and cream in the US Memeshop I’d probably have my order just as quickly or slightly faster (although the products are sold out sometimes), but I’d have paid $114 for just those three products–with no modeling packs and no freebie LJH mask. If I’d have bought the three items on eBay I’d have spent $90.22 on just those three items, and the shipping time would have been much, much slower with no tracking.
I’m also interested in trying random products like the jelly modeling packs that aren’t sold anywhere online. I dig checking out Korean sites and collecting Pinterest pins with stuff that looks interesting (I’m storing my future haul pins on my Beauty Inspiration board).
I’m completely, 110% blown away by the Avecko buying service. Just to be clear: I’m not affiliated with the site at all or sponsored by them. In fact, I didn’t know that the site existed until someone mentioned a regular Aveko online shop haul recently–I checked out the site and the wheels started turning in my head. I found the buying process to be clear and transparent. I received help with my order and my feedback about some tech issues were resolved immediately so I’ll be able to order again without a problem. The speed with which my order was processed and sent to me was amazing–I actually didn’t expect to receive it until later!
I highly recommend this service if you’re looking to branch out into shopping on Korean sites. I’m looking forward to being able to buy kpop albums and skincare in the same haul WOO!
NOTE: I’m about to board a plane for Berlin–I’ll be in Germany for the next 8 days, so I likely won’t be able to respond to Disqus comments on this post (I’ll try, but I’m traveling with just an iPhone and iPads, which strangely don’t cooperate). If you have questions or need more info on something I’m happy to help before I return–you can always email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, tweet me, or comment on my Instagram. In case I don’t know the answer (which is possible since this is my very first time using this service!) I’ll forward your question to the buying assistant who helped me. XD