READ THIS before shopping @ASOS and other foreign outlets

Everyone who reads my blog or follows me on Twitter, knows I’m a sucker for shopping, especially when it comes to shoes and clothes! And while I’m not much of  a bargain hunter – I hate rummaging at sales – I do enjoy shopping online and buying cool stuff that nobody else has. If it’s on sale, well, bonus!

A few of you guys have asked me about my ASOS shopping experience, so I thought I’d do a little blog on it explaining everything. It’s a great eye opener if you’re planning on shopping online at any international fashion outlet. I still shop at ASOS; I love their stuff and think the prices and quality are great. I’m just far more cautious with what I buy, because it can end up being a very expensive little trip online.

When I first discovered ASOS I thought I’d hit the jackpot. That was until I got faced with the reality of shopping from a foreign country. Sadly girls there is no getting around it, so hopefully this post will just make you aware of the process before you go spend your hard earned cash.

When shopping from ASOS or any other online clothing sites outside of South Africa, make sure you add a 40% customs charge to your item – it’s the standard customs fee for importing textiles in South Africa. Add to that a customs admin fee, mine came to R120 and don’t forget the shipping charge. There are a couple sites that give you free standard shipping if you purchase over a certain amount, or you can choose to get your parcel couriered at an additional fee. I found the courier charge from ASOS to be fairly inexpensive. The first time I shopped there, I chose that option and I got my goodies in 4 days!

Lately, I’ve been using the standard shipping method as I get my parcel in 10 days, which is also not bad considering it’s coming from the UK.

The first time I shopped at ASOS my parcel arrived without going through customs. The second time it got stopped and I had to pay R1316.00 to release it from customs. Quite a substantial amount considering my purchase was only around R2000. I ended up paying like R3316.00 in total. The worst part; I bought such random stuff. Stuff that I could get anywhere locally, I was just blinded by the words “SALE”. Some of the stuff I liked, but lets say out of the 8 items I bought that day, only 2 of them were worth it.

My tips when shopping online

Firstly, don’t get overwhelmed by the selection!
One thing I found with ASOS is that they have so many cool clothes, I just want to add them all to my cart. After all, the one benefit of being a season behind, is we get to enjoy marked down merchandise from overseas outlets. Plus there’s the matter of how easy it is. Click, Click, checkout and you’re done.

Be smart!
Try only to pick items you are head-over-heels in love with. Don’t just add random t-shirts and odd socks you can find at your local Woolies.

Recently, I purchased two fabulous items from ASOS; one was a white sleeveless blazer I had been hunting for and a really cool fringed sleeveless jacket. I paid a total of about 500 odd Rand on the two items and when they arrived, I had to pay in around R300-and something in fees. That was ok! I would have easily spent R500-R700 on each jacket, so paying under R1000 for the two was worth it.

Inspect the item!
One thing I love about ASOS is that you can watch a video of the item moving down the runway. I found that this gives you a good idea of how the item “flows” and helps you decide if the size will fit you. I also like that they have fabric details, so you can generally see if an item has stretch or not and order sizes accordingly. I am between an 8 and 10 so this is very helpful for me.

Use the size chart if you’re unsure about what size to order. If you’re still worried, get a size bigger and have it taken in. Better too big than too small!

Don’t get too click happy!
I know the excitement of wanting to get it all now, now, now! Instead, put the items in your cart and leave them for a few days. Go back later and see if you still want those items. If not, get rid of them before checking out.

I hope this little blog helps you online shoppers out a bit. If you’ve shopped at other online outlets please post the details below, we’d love to hear your experience and advice.
If you want to give online shopping a try, remember you can still shop online locally via these fab sites:
Dimi Ingle

Dimi is the founder, editor and creative force behind StyleScoop. She curates the very best of fashion, beauty, travel, decor and lifestyle, every day, right here!

Find me on: Web | Twitter | Instagram | Facebook


  1. Janis
    September 16, 2011 / 8:39 am

    I love ASOS as well but was brought back down to reality after the customs charges!  

  2. September 18, 2011 / 8:44 pm

    Wow thanks for the advise! I also had an experience where I got a hefty custom charge from shopping online. I think ever since I hardly do any shopping at international site. But it is definitely a great advice post from a shopaholic! 

  3. Annalize
    September 19, 2011 / 9:42 am

    This was very informative, thank you so much! I hate that 40% thing 🙁

  4. November 9, 2011 / 2:21 pm

    Wish I saw this earlier! Just received tax invoice from Customs and my package worth R1200 is being charged R980 customs!!! I am so FURIOUS!!!!

  5. Adhila
    February 10, 2012 / 11:20 am

    Thanks! This is very helpful for a newbie online shopper

  6. M
    May 9, 2012 / 1:28 pm

    just an FYI, if your order is under 500 ZAR, you don’t get nailed by customs. so, so many smaller orders instead of one big order.

  7. May 9, 2012 / 4:42 pm

    Thanks for you input “M”. I was also under that impression, so I ordered two separate orders at different times, each under R500 and using different credit cards. I still had to pay around R300 on customs charges.

    At the end of the day, I would still definitely buy online if I was willing to pay double for that item, otherwise it would probably be better to get it sent to a friend living abroad, and get them to send it as a gift, as you cannot send yourself a gift 🙂

  8. June 12, 2012 / 8:20 pm

    I’m having terrible luck with ASOS, ordered something over a month ago and still waiting for it 🙁

  9. Brett Robson
    March 22, 2013 / 6:06 am

    I love this post! So glad the Stylescoop isn’t fire walled in China! I would die!!!

    • March 22, 2013 / 7:54 am

      So glad to hear we’re not firewalled in China too 🙂

      Glad you loved the post, hope you’re having a blast and shopping up a storm xx

  10. Fiftyfabulous
    March 22, 2013 / 2:21 pm

    I appreciate you having taken the time to post this shopping experience, and would like to ad something. Sizing is not always consistant, like with many of our own stores you have to consider the style before ordering the size. My experience went beyond redicule in respect of VAT and duties, what if you have to return an article for what ever reason? The costs of returning an item is exhorbitant, and also bear in mind that you will not receive a refund before the items are physically received by ASOS or any online store, and until the transaction has been processed. i have also received the incorrect order from another online supplier and after many emails and agony, finally got paid back after about 3 months. If the goods are returned, you also have to go through a considerable process of claiming back the VAT and import duties already paid, which at the end, makes it very risky and expensive. So make sure that you view the article online and consider the size very carefully. But do not let it keep you from shopping online. Just make sure that whatever you buy is not because is appears as if it is a bargain, because online shopping never is, not if you consider the hidden and unforeseen costs of duty and VAT! I have also had to wait so long for online orders, that by the time you receive it, the trend is gone or the season is virtually over!

  11. Thato Nhlapo
    June 14, 2017 / 2:51 pm

    Hi Guys I just recently ordered boots on ASOS online shop and I am based here in South Africa, my order was expected to be with me on the 5th of June 2017 which is currently 9 days overdue and I have not heard anything from them even when i send constant emails asking about the where abouts of my order. I have not recieved any emails regarding my track number and my carrier please advice on what i can do and maybe provide me with info regarding the carriers they use in South Africa. Your assistance with this would be highly appreciated. Thank you!

    • Olivia Honey
      July 26, 2017 / 9:17 am

      Hey Thato on standard delivery there is no tracking number provided and they will direct you to our post office they only track until it leaves the UK. It is a possibility you will not get your goods or possibly months from now. My items get stolen when I order. Next time you will need to pay for the express delivery which is 32 pounds on top of customs. Unfortunately this is what our taxes are providing us, poor service delivery. Sorry about your dillema! Hope this helps.

  12. Lethu
    July 10, 2017 / 9:01 pm

    Hey i order my stuff from there in May using the standard shipping. We’re now in July and my stuff still haven’t arrive worse part is one of the items was meant to be an anniversary gift to my boyfriend in June. How do you track your items, I’ve been trying to but it keeps redirecting me

    • Polly
      November 3, 2017 / 10:43 am

      Hi Lethu, did you ever get your order?

      • Polly
        November 3, 2017 / 10:43 am

        Just curious because I’m in the same boat now.

  13. TEBO
    October 2, 2017 / 11:11 am

    h, I recently ordered stuff on ASOS online shop and I am based here in South Africa, i place d my order on the 24 August 2017 my order was expected to be with me on or before Wednesday 13 September 2017 which is currently 25 days overdue i only counted working day, i truly regret buy from ASOS my advice is that if you living in south Africa pls don’t buy form ASOS cause the are terrible when it comes to delivery and they can’t even provide us with a tracking number and they keep on saying it’s with our local post office i was cha t with Jodie on the ASOS chat line she said maybe the delivery guys put my Oder behind my bin…i said to her i live in a complex and if so why didn’t they call me can they just drop my parcel behind the bin imagine they don’t value us at all….AGAIN IF YOU ARE IN S.A PLEASE DON’T BUY FROM ASOS I POST THIS ON ALL MY SOCIAL MEDIA SO THAT EVERYONE IS AWARE. I STILL DON’T HAVE MY PARCEL LET ME JUST ADD

    • Mxm Eish
      October 4, 2017 / 12:38 pm

      TEBO it’s not asos that’s the issue it’s our Post Office, that’s the problem. Things get stolen here in South Africa. So next time you buy spend a little extra money on “Express delivery” this will provide you with a private courier that will bring your parcels to you and not the SA PostOffice. I got aramex. You’ll have a tracking number both in the UK and when it gets to RSA. But you’ll still pay custom duty tax

      • Joe
        October 10, 2017 / 9:49 pm

        Hi Mxm, what was the cost of your item and how much was the custom duty tax on it?
        Did Aramex delivery to your door? How did you pay the tax, did Aramex contact you about paying before they delivered your item?


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