20north - order products from US in India

 E-tailer 20north offers a dream proposition for the Indian consumer "Buy anything in the world from anywhere in India". It's a seductive promise, even for a post-liberalisation India with relaxed import norms. Living in Mumbai, I can honestly say that there are more imported products on the shop shelves than I will ever need or use. If you do need anything else, provided you are willing to pay the hefty international courier fee, a lot of companies and some sellers on ebay, are willing to ship them to you.

But do I still feel a need gap? Yes, I do and it is in geek land. I regret that I cannot buy a top class espresso machine or coffee grinder, the latest Westone IEMs, the fantastic geek gear at thinkgeek. Well, I could, but not without a lot of interaction with customer service and at a huge premium over the discounted prices available in US or other international markets. Oh, and also the 5% foreign exchange transaction fee which will be slapped on my credit card on each purchase. Better to blog it, admire, and wait patiently for days when they will be more accessible.

20North has a fair selection of products and brands featured on the site which you can purchase  in INR (customs duties may be applicable). And in case you want to order something off another site, they will source it and deliver it for you.

The site adds another dimension of complication by offering a 'duty free' tag on products priced at less than Rs. 10000. Apparently, if these are purchased in USD, outside India and gifted to someone in India, they will not attract customs duty. But of course, we know that the Customs people can decide to tax anything!It appears from consumer reviews  that several hopeful Indians have tried to gift themselves duty free and ending up paying huge customs duties.

Consumer reviews on Mouthshut suggest that there may be a few teething problems. I am not surprised. Getting things shipped to India and through Customs is still a laborious process and there are bound to be slip-ups.

If you can take the risk, you could indeed order your Nexus One or iPad from them. I am going to wait and watch and see how the site shapes up.


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