I know a lot of us are familiar with proxy buying services by now but for newcomers to collecting Japanese music CD’s and Merchandise, ordering from sites not in your native language and shipping stuff internationally can seem a little daunting.
So in order to hopefully inspire some confidence in those of you on the fence about using these kinds of services I decided to make a small guide on why and exactly how you go about using them.
What exactly is ZenMarket?
ZenMarket is a proxy buying service. The fundamental idea of its use is to help you buy stuff such as idol CD’s and merchandise from all sorts of Japanese online stores and even stuff from Yahoo auctions.
Why should I use ZenMarket?
– There are other Proxy buying services you can use such as FromJapan, this guide will hopefully give you a rough idea of what’s involved overall in using these kinds of services.
– ZenMarket Basically enables you to purchase from stores that don’t ship internationally or accept foreign credit cards/Paypal (basically most idol groups online stores)
– You can also use it to bid on and purchase rare items and cheap used CD’s on Yahoo auctions (Which I’ll cover in detail in another guide)
– Zenmarket ships worldwide and lets you customise what items you want sent and when.
So how do I buy from online stores?
Add items to the Cart
Press the + sign in the top right corner next to my account, then copy and paste the URL from the page of the item you want to buy. Make sure to mention what it is, as well as details such as colour, size, version and the quantity of the amount of the item you want to buy.
Get a quote
ZenMarket will then confirm the items price and it’s availability, this can take up to 24 hours so you may need to be patient.
Adding funds and paying for items
Once ZenMarket have confirmed the price including any domestic shipping fees you can then go ahead and pay for you the item/s
To do this you’ll need to add funds to your account, click the My Account button then next to where it says YOUR BALANCE you’ll see it says ADD FUNDS, go ahead and click that.
It will then give you a bunch of options for adding funds to your account, the two main ones we are going to be interested in are PayPal and Credit/Debit card, select the option you want to use, in my case I’ll be selecting PayPal.
Add in the desired amount in Japanese Yen you wish to top up your account with (it will show the amount you’ll be paying in your country’s currency on the right hand side)
Continue on to login to your PayPal account or enter your card details and the cash will be credited to your account.
Wait a couple of days
ZenMarket will then buy your items from the shop you selected.
Usually, it takes around 2-5 days for an item to arrive at ZenMarket, Keep in mind if the item is a pre order it won’t arrive until after the release day.
If an item is out of stock when you order you may have to wait for it to first come back in before it can be sent out, usually ZenMarket will message you regarding out of stock or pre order items so you’ll know if this is the case.
Shipping your items
Once all of your items arrive at the warehouse, you will need to specify the shipping method and provide the address of where you wish for the items to be delivered.
First thing you want to do is below your paid items you want click on CREATE NEW PACKAGE, this will take you to where you fill out your details and choose a shipping option.
First thing you want to do is choose which items you would like to ship, this is useful if you are sending bigger items by themselves or perhaps trying to group up lots of smaller items together to make the shipping cost worth it.
Basically you untick anything you don’t want to ship yet and leave the rest ticked, anything ticked will be packed together into a parcel to be shipped to you.
You’ll notice it displays the items weight, as well as the price and “declared price” of the parcel. You can change the declared price of the parcel to help avoid customs charges (in countries that have to worry about that) if you believe the items you bought are not worth as much as you paid for them (like rare auctions and so on might cost a fortune to buy but a cd is only really worth 100-1000 yen max in all honesty and customs usually wouldn’t find that declared price suspicious for a few CD’s) or perhaps if you know the customs limit and just want to reduce enough to go under the threshold then feel free to do so.
I’m not 100% on the legality of doing this and I’m not sure Zenmarket can help you if customs ask for proof of purchase costs. Truth be told I’ve never had anything happen like that in all the years I’ve used proxy services so I wouldn’t worry about it too much.
The next section is pretty self explanatory, fill in the details of the address you would like your parcel/s to be delivered to as well as your name and contact number.
Next up you’ll be choosing your shipping method, each method will give you a specified estimate on delivery time and will vary in cost.
UPS, Fedex and DHL will be the most expensive but offer fast delivery times.
EMS is cheaper than those mentioned above but usually takes slightly longer to arrive.
Airmail is my usual choice, it takes roughly two weeks to arrive and is fairly cheap, if you don’t mind waiting a little while this is a good option.
SAL is the cheapest method but can take from 3 weeks up to 3 months to arrive at its slowest.
Last up is packing options, they are fairly self explanatory too, if you feel any of these are relevant or needed by you feel free to select them.
Once everything we just covered is filled out and completed hit the CREATE PACKAGE button at the bottom of the page.
Once you have created your packaged if you click the parcels tab on the left hand side you will be taken to the page that shows the status of your created packages.
As you can see my created package is currently being packed, I’ll need to wait until this is completed and the final shipping price is calculated, which I’ll cover in the next section.
Paying for shipping
Once your items have been packaged, weighed and the final shipping fee has been calculated you will see your parcel showing as PACKING COMPLETE AWAITING PAYMENT.
It will display the final cost of the international shipping in the bottom right hand corner.
You will need to click the orange button that says PAY and confirm the payment to finalise the shipping.
Once you have confirmed you will see your package is now coloured green and is preparing to be shipped, that’s pretty much all the hard work done your end, now all you need to do is wait for it to arrive in the alloted time expected with the shipping option you chose.
Once your item has shipped fully and is on its way to you the colour will change to blue on the package and depending on the shipping option you choose you will usually get a tracking number as well as a supporting document with all the relevant information.
You can click on the tracking number to track it within the Japanese postal service, once it arrives into your country you can usually take that same tracking number and use it to track the parcel in your own country’s postal system as well.
A previously shipped parcel for reference shown here.
Well that pretty much shows you all you need to know on how to buy from Japanese online stores, I’ll be covering bidding and purchasing from Yahoo auctions, which is something that proxy buyer services also enable you to do in a separate guide I’ll be working on next.
Hopefully this has helped you in some way and hopefully opened up some new options for you in regards to purchasing merchandise and hopefully supporting your favourite Idols!
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