INTERNATIONAL. A new e-commerce website, DutyFreeAmazon.com, has been launched, which claims it will soon offer online duty free products to international travellers. Additionally, it already offers an extensive home-delivery service for tax and duty paid goods.
The site, unrelated to the American e-commerce giant Amazon, declares: “Most of the international airports handle millions of passengers each year. The passengers don’t have other options to buy goods from other than duty free shops. In most of the cases the airport prices are higher than online retailers. Introducing DutyFreeAmazon.com to tap into the millions of people travelling every year. DutyFreeAmazon.com is offering online orders and worldwide delivery.”
“We expect to showcase 50 million products by the end of 2018. We aim to be the Amazon of duty free shopping.”
However, the detailed duty free shopping instructions on a subsequent page (see below) point out that anyone shopping ‘duty free’ must be leaving the country and physically pick up the goods upon departure.
The company told The Moodie Davitt Report: “We are making agreements with duty free shop operators around the world so the travellers shopping on our sites can pick up their purchase at the airport. This feature will be implemented early 2018.”
“We are inviting vendors from all over the world to showcase their products on our websites so we can be the largest market place for travellers. We expect to showcase 50 million products by the end of 2018. We are striking deals with companies such as Alibaba, Sony, Dell, Apple and Acer, to give you an idea of the magnitude of the business. We aim to be the Amazon of duty free shopping.”
Asked about any potential name conflict with the original Amazon, the company told us, “Trademarks laws in the USA are very strict and a trademark infringement law suit would be immediately dismissed in a court of law because the words or sentences are different from one domain name to the other, therefore they have no claim.”
A message on the home page says: “Shop legally duty free from the comfort of your own home.”
Users click on a ‘duty free shopping’ button, which leads to a second site called Duty Free Zone.com. This related site offers a combination of ‘non duty free’ and ‘duty free’ shopping. It claims to have over 10 million items in stock.
“Actually we ship duty paid to the USA consumers from 13 warehouses,” the company told The Moodie Davitt Report. “Our partner is the world’s largest electronics distributor with over U$50 billion in sales. We keep 10 million items in stock and 465,000 SKUs. The franchise fee in the US has been lifted from US$200 up to US$800 for imported goods by US Customs; this opens the doors for small on-line duty free purchases shipped from overseas to the US by express carriers.
“We are based in Laredo, Texas, which is the main point of entry for import and export goods into the USA from Mexico, and Laredo is the US city counting the most [duty free] border shops.
A rider at the bottom of the ‘duty free shopping’ page says, “Available soon duty free shopping – sign-up to be the first to know.”
The DutyFreeAmazon.com home page lists several consumer technology brands, including Acer, Apple, Amazon Fire, Asus, AT&T, Belkin, Canon, HP, Dell, Lenovo, Samsung, Sony, Microsoft, Nintendo and Zebra.
The product range on DutyFreeZone.com currently excludes liquor, tobacco and beauty products. Whether they are to be added when the full service comes online is not stated. Pressed on this point, the company told The Moodie Davitt Report: “For duty paid product, we will offer perfumes, watches, gourmet food, electronics, bags and so on. However, we will not offer duty paid sales for cigarettes and liquors, though this feature will be available for duty free pick-up at airports for international travellers.”
The listed categories are: accessories; aidc/pos; apple factory recertified; consumer electronics; daily deals; environmental devices; hardware & tools; holiday gifts; home & living; home & office security; information technology; miscellaneous; musical instruments; office equipment & supplies; power equipment; professional photo; security devices; services & training; telecommunication; toys & games; and video games.
The duty free shopping page states: “To be eligible to shop duty free, you must be leaving the country you are travelling from.
“You must take the duty free items with you into another country (as required by U.S. and international law, you will receive your duty free items as you exit the country, either as you get on the plane, a cruise ship or as you drive across the border).
“Why shop duty free? Take advantage of cost savings with Tax and Duty Free worldwide shopping available to customers travelling to foreign destinations.
“International travellers have the privilege to buy items exempt from paying Sales Tax (Value Added Tax or VAT in many countries) or the Customs duties assessed by a particular country, primarily on liquor and tobacco but may include other categories.”
“Affiliation” with duty free shops?
In a section headed ‘How to shop duty free online?’, the site says, “You may order online up to 7 days before your travel date. All in-store promotions, price discounts, and gifts with purchase apply. No more stressful, last-minute shopping before your flight ‐ select your favorite luxury products online anywhere in the world, in advance, duty free!
“Click ‘Select a Store’ in the country you are travelling from and enter your travel information. The appropriate Duty Free Zone-affiliated Duty Free Shop will be selected for you with real-time inventory and promotions.
“Once a Duty Free Shop has been selected, pricing, promotions, and availability will begin your shopping experience
“Once you confirm your purchase and enter payment information, the appropriate Duty Free Shop will be notified to pack your order and prepare it for delivery as you exit the country, whether boarding a plane or crossing the border.”
Orders are packed and delivered in compliance with US and international customs laws, the site claims.
Who is behind DutyFreeAmazon and DutyFreeZone?
The ‘About us’ section says that DutyFreeZone.com was founded in 1999 “by a group of young entrepreneurs who had a vision of a new world where businesses can buy and sell products across international borders without political, geographical or economic restrictions.
“We realized that to achieve success these businesses would need better resources for sourcing products and managing the supply chain. We’ve also learned over the years that reliability is key to creating excellent customer service. As a result, our primary goal has been to develop our core service with ‘worry-free sourcing’ as the underlying competitive advantage.”
DutyFreeZone.com claims to be shipping in the US from its multiple warehouses and to have a “thriving e-commerce website providing unbeatable pricing, assured quality and a reliable service for consumers”.
It continued: “Moving forward, we aim to raise the bar further by setting higher industry standards because we believe that progression will create more sustainable growth for our customers. DutyFreeZone.com is the world leading consumer electronics and home appliances e-commerce company. DutyFreeZone.com strategic headquarters are in Caymans Islands. Company offices can be found in Laredo Texas, Mexico and Hong Kong.”