One of my favorite discoveries after moving overseas is that Amazon operates in other countries besides the U.S. There is Amazon: Italy, Germany, UK, Spain, France, Japan… and more! Each participating country has their own corresponding website and their own unique inventory. They are completely legitimate Amazon websites and you can even use the same Amazon.com account from the states. All you need is a local mailing address and you are all set!
10 Things I Love About Amazon Italy
- Reviews: By nature I am an intense researcher of all things (hence the existence of this blog). Whenever I intend to spend money on anything whether it be hotel stays, restaurant dining, or online shopping I always try to read the reviews. Why buy low quality if I can buy high quality at the same affordable price? With a little help from Google translate I can read reviews in English and compare items just like I did on Amazon.com in the states.
- Research & Comparison: Being able to research and compare items on Amazon can save you money. Choosing appliances that have multiple functions or added features can also save you money. For example, my food processor can be used as a drink blender and a vegetable slicer. My microwave has a grill function for reheating pizza and a steam function for vegetables. My hand blender comes with a bowl and stand, so that it can be used be used as a stand mixer. My vacuum cleaner can clean carpet, tile, high ceilings, and upholstery. Right there I save by not having to purchase a blender, mandolin slicer, toaster oven, vegetable steamer, stand mixer, hard floor vacuum. carpet vacuum, and hand vacuum.
- Fast Shipping: Each Amazon website ships directly from their own country. Everything I order from Amazon Italy is delivered to my doorstep in 2-3 days. I don’t have to wait 10 or more days for my package to ship from the states to my APO address, then wait in the never ending line at the post office to pick up my package. Plus, I don’t have to waste time arguing with the post office that my package arrived two weeks ago when their outdated computer system never printed out a notification for my mail box. With Amazon Italy you can even upgrade to Prime for only 10 euros a year, although a bit unnecessary with the already fast shipping. As soon as we moved out of the hotel and into our new home I hit the “order” button on Amazon and voila!
- 220 Volt Appliances: Buying 220 volt appliances to replace your American 120 volt appliances can present a real challenge when you first arrive. Besides not having a vehicle and being unfamiliar with the area, you also don’t understand the Italian language or recognize any of the brands. The PX on base has a very small selection of 220 volt appliances and you are usually limited to one type of coffee, vacuum, or blow dryer (if they have it in stock). Even appliances found within the Italian economy tend to be either overpriced or poorly rated. With Amazon Italy you have a vast selection of 220 volt appliances to choose from and you don’t have to go through the hassle of figuring out everything in Italian.
- Low Prices: As I mentioned before, appliances on the Italian economy tend to be overpriced when comparing the same exact item on Amazon Italy. When we first arrived I even scouted out items at the local BestBuy/Wal-Mart-like stores (Emisfero/MediaWorld), the discount kitchen store at the Palladio mall, and the PX. I took pictures of 220 volt appliances and their prices, then went back to the hotel to look them up online. The majority of the time, Amazon was the clear winner in terms of price. We even had the Italian version of BestBuy (MediaWorld) create an estimate for a VAT (value added tax) refund on all of the items we wanted to buy. Even with the VAT refund at MediaWorld, Amazon Italy with VAT included still costed less! Our microwave alone was 60 euros less on Amazon Italy! The few items that were cheaper only amounted to a few euros difference. Although the discount appliance store at the mall selling cheap, off brand appliances may have been cheaper, I questioned the quality and lifespan of the appliance in the long run.
- Selection: Finding things on the Italian economy can be quite a task. You won’t find a Hobby Lobby store with a giant selection of scrapbook paper, sewing fabric, and paints all under one roof. You will have to buy scrapbook paper at a stationary store, fabric at a sewing shop, and paints at the local hardware store. It’s not necessarily a bad thing. The small, often family-owned shops are what makes Italy beautiful and I love the adventure of discovering those little places! That being said, sometimes the American in me wants all these random things at once and I want it now! With Amazon Italy I can find a great selection of everything from craft supplies to car parts all in one place. So if you are in search of something difficult to find, take a look on Amazon first.
- Convenience: Being able to shop from your computer is very convenient, especially since you won’t find a “one-stop” stop shopping mecca of everything you need here. It also means you won’t be driving around from store to store to pick up or compare items. I didn’t have to watch the yard sale pages like a hawk or meet up with people multiple times on the yard sale pages. It was so simple to have everything in my shopping cart and click the order button as soon as we moved into our house. I just had to make sure I was home to receive the package and sign for it.
- Few Restrictions: Ordering things from the states can be problematic due to restrictions on what can be sent through the mail. They won’t send heavy or large items (i.e. furniture, rugs, sport/gym equipment) and they won’t send some hazardous materials (i.e. baby items, electronics with built in batteries, flammable liquids like paint markers). Some sellers just simply refuse to send anything to an APO address. On Amazon Italy I can order furniture, bicycles, tablets, and craft paints. I can have anything on Amazon Italy delivered to my Italian address and shipping is usually FREE, even on furniture!
- International Shipping: If you can’t find what you are looking for on Amazon Italy, you can also look at the Amazon websites for other countries. There will be a lot of overlap, but there will be some more unique items as well. Amazon Germany for example, had a much better selection of furniture than Amazon Italy. Amazon UK had a bigger selection of colors when it came to choosing our new travel luggage. The options are endless! Keep in mind some countries do have restrictions just like regular Amazon and they usually charge for shipping.
- New vs. Used: I am all about bargain shopping and saving money when I can. I love yard sale pages and thrifts stores just as much as the next person, but the competition is rough! Everyone is looking for the same items and doesn’t want to spend top dollar on something they will only use for a few years, which I completely agree with. Sometimes (not always) it is just more simple, safe, and cost effective to buy it new rather than fight for a used item on the yard sale page. Plus, you can always find someone willing to buy it from you on the yard sale pages when you move.
The Cons of Using Amazon Italy
With the good comes the bad, so I will be honest!
The negative side of using Amazon Italy is that: A) You need to have a local Italian address, which can be problematic for those living in government owned (aka Villagio) unless you use a friend’s address on the economy and B) most delivery companies require a signature meaning you need to be home or else they will not drop off the package at your doorstep like in the states.
If they attempt to deliver the package and you are not home, they will put a notice of attempted delivery in your mail box and it usually states that they will try to deliver again the next business day or the note may require you to log in online and choose a day to have it delivered. If you still are not home the next day, they will most likely leave a note telling you to pick it up at the postal center and you can pick it up at your convenience.
Now that I’ve introduced and hopefully demystified this fantastic resource you can use while living overseas, this concludes my rant about Amazon Italy. Happy shopping!