The international shipment startup allowing globetrotters to bring back foreign-purchased eCommerce goods recently announced plans to launch in Colombia come September.
“We are in a super-powerful growth plan,” said CEO and co-founder Cristián Godoy, who also wants to develop a mobile app to facilitate enhanced communication between travelers and purchasers.
Chile’s Production Development Corporation (Corfo) contributed US$200,000 to boost this expansion. So far, the company is only present in Chile and Peru.
Saving hefty fees as well as time, shoppers essentially purchase something online from another country to come back with the traveler. In turn, the traveler will receive the shipment at their accommodation and bring the goods back with them.
Under a “collaborative economy” model, travelers can make an extra buck by registering trips over the platform while earning commissions for bringing requested products back with them.
Much of this seems to be built around avoiding expensive shipping costs. This is especially true for electronic items that tend to be cheaper in the United States than Latin America.
Once the traveler returns, purchases are then retrievable either at the Comparto Mi Maleta’s offices or via delivery. Since 2007, the company has facilitated over 1,000 shipments ranging from makeup, technology, clothing, as well as vitamins.
On top of the bidding price, purchasers also pay an additional 12 percent commission to Comparto Mi Maleta. Customers seem happy, as well, especially when it comes to the speed of transactions.
“Excellent service,” said Francisca Barreda in her review over the website. “Communication is fast and fluid and the payment processes and reimbursements are fast as well. For those that want to bring products from the United States, it’s a tremendous option. 100 percent recommended.”
What’s the process like?
Everything is administered over the platform. Among travelers, they share their trip information, such as location and place of accommodation. Shoppers then arrange for that person to transport eCommerce items back to Chile, Peru, and soon to be Colombia, by providing quotes over the same site.
All one needs to do is share a link to the item that they’re ordering online. Also, they must establish a commission rate for transporters between 10 and 20 percent of the item’s original value. Typically users bring between 10 and 15 orders back with them.
Both travelers and purchasers first register over the website. Later, the validation process takes place over the telephone with a team member. Best described as “quality assurance,” this is a step-by-step process aiming to verify travel data. This includes dates, location of accommodation, identify, etc.
“Those that travel register where they are going to stay, validate their personal information, and then we interview them,” said Godoy. The commercial engineer founded the company alongside civil engineer Felipe Hargous and programmer Carlos Gómez.
As a side note, Comparto Mi Maleta only accepts products purchased from official stores, not third parties.
“This provides the assurance that the product was delivered by a formal store,” said Godoy. “Additionally, travelers can open all products and review their content.”
I love this concept but there are some undeniable “red flags,” or at least parts of the business model that I consider strange.
For example, the website says buyers can’t directly communicate with travelers, risking account deactivation. If I’m ensuring someone with the items I buy online, though, I’d like to send a message or phone call if necessary. Wouldn’t you?
Another odd part of the business model relates to lost or stolen items. In that case, the company would cover the costs. That sounds nice and all but also like a huge potential business expenditure.
Unless it includes an insurance-like product, assuming the cost itself could soon turn into a huge margins problem. All in all, it just seems like there’s much potential for things to go wrong
Logistically, I’m also curious to know how much money users are actually saving by ordering items online from another country rather than Peru and Chile. After all, eCommerce platforms like Amazon and Mercado Libre operate in both countries.