Amazon Prime Day Brings Voice First Home

Did you participate in Prime Day 2017? If you didn’t, you are in the minority (almost)! Amazon created this new shopping holiday in 2015, and this year’s sales beat last year’s by 60%. Amazon doesn’t share hard numbers, but we know that Amazon purchases went over $1,000,000,000 in 30 hours. (The extended time period is for expanded markets.)

Prime Day is centered on customers who have signed up for Amazon’s Prime service. For $99 a year customers get unlimited two-day shipping, discounts, shopping rewards, and access to services like Prime Music and Prime Video. Of course, they get access to the thousands of deals which come up only on Prime Day.

The big movers this year were the Amazon Echo, and it’s little buddy, the Amazon Dot. The Echo is one of the popular new home assistant devices that acts like a voice-activated internet and speaker. It’s hooked up to many apps so it can play music or news, answer questions, order stuff from Amazon (of course), order pizza, dim the lights… the possibilities are expanding by the day. The Dot is a kind of mini version of the Echo, and on Prime Day the price of the Dot dropped from $50 to $35. (The Echo sold at half price on Prime Day, down to $90.) Amazon doesn’t share final sales numbers, but insiders say that at points they were selling thousands of Dots per minute. Overall Amazon reported that Prime Members purchased 6000 items a minute during Prime Day.

Overall, the Dot was the best seller during Prime Day. Not surprisingly, other Amazon products also sold well, like the Echo, Fire devices and Kindle tablets. Other popular items included Sony’s PlayStation 4 and 23 And Me DNA testing kits. The Instant Pot pressure cooker was also a popular item.

One must be a Prime Member to participate in Prime Day, and on July 11 more people signed up to Prime than any other day in history. Prime members tend to shop more, making it a win-win deal for Amazon and its customers. Not surprisingly Amazon’s stock jumped on Prime Day, breaking the $1000 a share mark. (Where is the downside for Amazon?)

It seems like voice commerce may be direction online shopping is going. Not only has Amazon eliminated the need to get in your car and go somewhere to go shopping, now they are eliminating the need to log in and use a screen to shop! Also, there is competition in Voice First field with Google’s Home and Apple’s HomePod. Competition is good for consumers. Prices will fall and devices will evolve quickly. Amazon is already introducing its next spinoff: a voice first device with a screen.

We see a lot of these devices move through our warehouse at OPAS. From just eyeballing it, it looks like the Amazon Echo and the Amazon Dot are what most OPAS buyers are spending their new voice device money on.

Have you delved into the Voice First world feet first? What device or devices have you used? Are you still embarrassed to talk to a machine?

Heartbleed: a Courtesy Message from OPAS

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If you’re not aware, the wide world of the internet and E-commerce was recently rocked by the revelation of the Heartbleed bug, which was an error in the code of OpenSSL, the secure socket layer encryption software used by many major websites.

This bug may have exposed millions of users’ sensitive information to data thieves; passwords, credit card details, etc. According to analysis, up to 17.3% of the 1 million top ranked websites use OpenSSL software which may have been vulnerable to the Heartbleed bug, including many of our members’ favorite sites for shopping.

At this point, there’s no need to panic. The best course of action is just to change your passwords for any site you think may be compromised. All of the largest online companies such as Google, Facebook, Amazon, banks and mega-merchants and the like are all aware of the problem and have been working to fix it with patches in their security code.

If your information on these sites was exposed to Heartbleed, then replacing the vulnerable password will serve to re-secure your information. Once all websites have been patched and all passwords have been reset, then this bug, which has been out “in the wild” for about two years, will be extinct.

For smaller sites, there are ways to check if they’ve been fixed to remove Heartbleed vulnerability, like the following tools:

–          http://filippo.io/Heartbleed/

–          https://www.ssllabs.com/ssltest/

If a website has not yet remedied the problem, then changing the password will not help, as the new password will still be exposed to the bug. Once they’ve patched, you’ll want to make the change to ensure security.

In case you’re wondering, OPAS Servers were NOT exposed to the Heartbleed bug – the security software we use is not one of the kinds affected.

We wanted to be certain we addressed this serious but controllable issue. So many of our customers conduct online purchasing from so many different merchants, and we want to make sure you’re all aware of the best methods for remaining safe in doing so.

3 Tools for Easier Package Forwarding from Amazon.com

Digital Tools Make Online Shopping Easier for Package Forwarders

Amazon.com is one the most popular online shopping sites for package forwarders. Even though there are different Amazon sites for many countries, the US site usually has the best prices, and even some products that aren’t available in other countries and can’t be shipped outside the US.

Sometimes, there are so many great deals on the Amazon US site that it’s hard to navigate and keep track of them all. Here are three tools for your web browser or desktop that make shopping on Amazon a little easier.

3 Tools to Make Package Forwarding from Amazon.com Easier

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  1. PictureFox
    PictureFox is an add-on for the FireFox web browser that makes it easier for you to view and compare images of different products. When you search for a product on Amazon, you get a list of search results, with a small image of each product. If you want to see a larger image of the product, you have to click through to the individual product page, then click again on the product’s individual image gallery.

    With PictureFox, you don’t have to leave the search results page to see a larger image. Just move your mouse over the thumbnail, and images from the product’s gallery will be displayed automatically and added to the PictureFox gallery.

    How PictureFox makes package forwarding easier: When shopping across borders, the ability to compare prices is essential. With PictureFox, you can even compare photos from Amazon’s US site with photos from your local Amazon site, side by side in the PictureFox gallery.

  2. amazon dealsAmazon Deals!
    Amazon Deals! is another browser add-on, this time for the Google Chrome browser. Amazon Deals! puts a small button on your browser’s toolbar that simply lists all the up-to-the-minute deals and discounts available on Amazon.com’s US site. Even though there are other ways to get access to these deals (for example, by following @amazondeals on Twitter), the Amazon Deals! add-on is much more convenient, since it shows the deals in the same window you shop through.

    How Amazon Deals! makes package forwarding easier: One of the greatest features of package forwarding is consolidation. The Amazon Deals! add-on puts your bargain hunting and your shopping in the same place, so you can find great deals more easily.

  3. pricewatcherPriceWatcher
    PriceWatcher is a downloadable application for both Windows and Mac that lets you track the price of specific products on Amazon. As soon as the price drops on a product you want, PriceWatcher will alert you. In addition to the Amazon US site, PriceWatcher also works with the Amazon UK, Germany, France, Canada, Japan, Italy, Spain and China sites, so you can compare prices across countries.

    How PriceWatcher makes package forwarding easier: If you want to buy from the Amazon US site but don’t live in the US, you might miss a deal if the product you want goes on sale while your time zone is asleep. You can set PriceWatvcher to automatically add the item you want to your shopping cart once it hits a certain price, even if you’re away from your computer.

Best Online Tools for Package Forwarding?

What other tools do you use to make buying from US stores easier? Do you prefer browser add-ons or desktop applications (or mobile apps)? Join us on Facebook to take our poll and join the conversation.

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Track International Shipments Using Google

Where’s Your Package Forwarding Shipment? Just Google It.

If you’re tired of going to a carrier’s website every time you need to track a package forwarding shipment, you might be interested to learn that there are easier ways. One of the cooler tracking methods is the website PackageMapping.com, which lets you track international shipments with a visual map.

track international shipmentsBut if you want less features and more speed and convenience, the easiest way to track an international package is to just Google it.

Instead of using carriers’ websites or other tracking tools, you can simply copy and paste your package’s tracking number into the Google search bar. Google will automatically identify which carrier is transporting your package, and will give you a direct link to the tracking information on that carrier’s website.

This works for most, but not all, international shipping companies. It works the best with UPS, FedEx, and USPS. DHL works, but sometimes you get multiple search results and have to pick the link that looks the most likely to be your package.

The Fastest, Easiest Way To Track International Shipments

This is an especially useful method if you’re tracking international shipments with different carriers. For example, instead of visiting the UPS website, the DHL website, and the USPS website to track three different packages, you can track them all, right from Google.

So the next time you want to know where your package forwarding shipment is, find it the same way you find any other information: Google it.

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Google Catalogs Helps You Buy From US Stores With One App

Google’s New iPad App Makes Buying From US Stores Easier

It was only a few months ago that Google Commerce made it easier for shoppers to search for items at US online stores. Now, Google has taken their e-commerce technology one step further with Google Catalogs, a new iPad app that brings catalogs from all the US stores you buy from together in one place, for an interactive shopping experience.

buy from us stores with google catalogsActually, Google Catalogs works a lot like early package forwarding services, acting like a catalog of catalogs. The app lets you search the catalogs of popular stores like Williams-Sonoma, L.L. Bean, Sephora, Nordstrom, and hundreds more. You can even group together catalogs from only your favorite stores, and search just the stores you like to shop at.

Unlike simply browsing each store’s website, Google Catalogs presents the store’s items in a rich graphic format with an attractive design, similar to the presentation of a printed catalog. But like an online website, all you have to do to buy an item is click the “buy online” button.

The app even takes the catalog concept into the 21st century by letting you see videos and product demonstrations of interesting items. It’s a bit like embedding a TV commercial right into the catalog that you can watch just by clicking.

Another cool feature of the Google Catalogs App is that you can create custom showcases of your own, called “collages.” You can make a collection of items from similar stores, then share your collection with friends.

Google Catalogs even has a tool that makes it especially useful for package forwarding shoppers. Just in case the store you want to buy from only accepts US credit cards, Google Catalogs will let you see the local availability of an item. All you have to do is use a personal shopper from your package forwarding company to go pick up the item for you.

Watch the video below to see Google Catalogs in action:

A New Way To Buy From US Stores

Technology moves pretty quickly, and new ways to buy from US stores are coming up all the time. Luckily, you don’t have to be a gadget wizard to make use of these new ways to buy from US stores.

Items like the iPad and Google Catalogs make buying from US stores easier than ever before, so there’s never been a better time to use package forwarding to buy from the US and ship internationally. If you still don’t have a US address for shopping, you can register for a package forwarding account now.

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Get International Shipping on Google Chromebook

Google Chromebook Available to Package Forwarding Members

On Monday Google announced the release of it’s new Google Chromebook laptop computer. Available as of the 15th, the Chromebook is a new kind of computer that stores all of your files, data, programs, and even its operating system on Google’s cloud servers. This makes the experience of using the computer, faster, simpler, and easier than ever before.

How to Get a Google Chromebook With International Shipping

Technology enthusiasts have been awaiting this new device for a long time, but the Chromebook finally went on sale this week–in the US, of course. Other countries will have to wait until some months later to purchase this cool new computer. But you can buy one right now using your US address from OPAS to purchase a Chromebook from Amazon or Best Buy and get international shipping through package forwarding. (Both Amazon and Best Buy will only ship within the US.)

Google Chromebook Makes & Models Work in Any Country

There are four Chromebook models available from both Acer and Samsung. Each manufacturer offers both 3G and W-Fi models, so you can use the computer to access the internet and Google’s computing cloud anywhere, in any country.

Google Chromebook, Online Shopping, and Package Forwarding

What good is a new computer without new ways to shop online, right? 🙂 Since the Google Chromebook will connect you to the internet anywhere, anytime, you’ll be able to shop during your commute, while waiting in traffic, on the bus, on a train, even on an airplane.

The Google Chromebook could even improve your package forwarding experience. You’ll be able to get your item arrival notices more quickly and make international shipping requests from anywhere you happen to be!

What do you think? Are you looking forward to the Google Chromebook? Or will you just stick with the iPad 2? Discuss your reaction in the comments section.

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Easier US Online Shopping with Google Commerce

One of the reasons people love using package forwarding to shop online in the US is that the US has the largest selection of online stores in the world. But how do you find exactly what you’re looking for amidst the overwhelming variety at US online stores? Recently, Google has introduced a new online shopping platform to help online stores make their inventory more accessible to shoppers.

us online shoppingGoogle Commerce 3.0 lets online stores incorporate the “Google Instant” feature into their store’s seach box, which adds the “search as you type” experience of the Google search engine to any e-commerce platform. This helps shoppers narrow their search more quickly and find precisely what they’re looking for without having to wade through a long list of search results.

Of course, sometimes the peripheral items are part of the fun of shopping. That’s why Google has included an “Enhanced Merchandising” feature that lets stores pop-up additional information alongside search queries in order to tempt you with related products. There’s also a recommendation feature that lets you view what others who searched for items similar to yours bought.

Want to give Google Commerce 3.0 a try? A few sites using the new search features are:

The above US online stores only ship to the US, but you can use your package forwarding membership to get international shipping from these or any other US stores.

Still having a hard time finding what you’re looking for? Download our Free USA Shopping Guide now!

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