Your Questions About Shipping Pt. 1

We recently sat down with our OPAS Warehouse Manager, Steve. He is in charge of your orders from the moment they come through our doors until they are consolidated and securely packaged and ready to be sent to you. Steve shared with us some of the common questions that our customers ask about receiving and shipping.

What happens from the time my package arrives to when it leaves?

Steve: First, each item that comes in is registered into our system. Where it came from, the tracking number and the weight are recorded and it is labeled with a unique number. All the packages are stored together by the member’s ID number until we get a shipping request to send them out. The ID numbers of the items to be shipped together are printed out on what we call a “pick ticket”. The items are then consolidated, usually into a single package. Then we measure and weigh it to calculate the shipping charges. When customers want a shipping estimate or are paying by PayPal, we wait to get payment approval, and finally we print out the shipping label and send it on its way.

I can’t find some of my items in my OPAS account. Were are they?

S: First of all, the tracking numbers of all packages are scanned and marked as “delivered” by most delivery services (like UPS and FedEx) when they arrive at our warehouse. However, packages delivered by the US Postal Service are scanned and marked as “delivered” before they are loaded onto the Post Office delivery trucks. The actual time we receive the packages from the post office may be several hours after it shows up as “delivered” in the system. In other words, you may track it as being delivered hours before it even arrives at OPAS. Recently we have had issues where some packages are marked “delivered” to us actually days before they reach OPAS. This is a serious issue and we are in contact with our local post office to resolve this issue. Please feel free to contact us if you are seeing a USPS package tracked as delivered, but not appearing in our system. But chances are this is what has happened and hopefully we won’t be seeing this anymore soon.

We get a lot of inquires asking about packages that should have arrived on Saturday. We are not open on the weekends, so we wouldn’t have seen them yet. Our carriers know when this and bring us all the weekend deliveries on Monday. Also, Amazon contracts out many of their deliveries to private contractors who promise to make deliveries on the weekend. Our customers sometimes get an email telling them that a delivery attempt was made, but that no one was there to accept the package. In this case there is nothing the OPAS customer needs to do. We will receive your package the following Monday. So make sure you don’t pay extra for weekend delivery!

We receive deliveries from the post office and every other shipping company until the early afternoon every weekday. Any one of these deliveries can be hundreds of packages, which have to be registered one by one. So it may be a few hours between the time we receive a delivery to the time it is input into our system. Please be a little patient!

Shouldn’t scanning each package go faster than that?

S: Electronic scanners are fast, but they can’t do everything. They can’t check for any damage a package has received in transit. When a package is damaged in delivery we need to contact the customer and the shipper as quickly as possible to get it resolved. There really isn’t any way make the process go quicker. We also have to deal with misdeliveries and mistaken orders, and it helps us speed things up when we know those things are coming. This is also true with hazardous materials. We inspect each package, input its measurements, and finish by putting a registration label on it.

What if I’d like to check on a package that OPAS has already received?

S: If you’d like to see a picture of what is inside your package, please select “Scan Request” on your received package. If you would like to make sure that the items you received were correct (i.e. size, color, model, quantity, etc…) please select the inspection option when you are ready to ship.

Where do you store my packages? Can you send out my order quickly?

S: After being registered, your packages are sorted and stored together based on your customer number inside the OPAS warehouse. When you make a shipping request it generates one of the pick tickets I mentioned earlier. Everything on the pick ticket is then collected. We double check to make sure all items are there and accounted for. It is our policy to process every request within 24 hours after receiving it, but special situations and delayed payments can cause it to take more time. Customers who pay for express delivery will get preferential treatment. At especially busy periods there are times when packages have to be pushed back to the next day. If you are in a real hurry to get your items, the best thing to do is let us know this in advance. For example, if you are waiting for certain items to arrive before placing your shipping request, declare or “add” the items you are expecting in your account, and then make a shipping request with the items that are already at OPAS. In the “special requests” section let us know you want to include the items you are waiting for. Then we can get your order processed without you having to wait until you get delivery confirmation to OPAS. This is also a good way to speed up your order processing without having to pay extra express delivery fees.

We will continue our conversation with Steve next month…

What New Users are Asking

OPAS recently participated in a New Year’s event held at a Japanese shopping center in suburb of Portland. The Shogatsu Matsuri or New Year’s Festival was a three day event with several booths for selling hot food like oden and imagawayaki and things like good luck charms from a local Buddhist temple. At our booth we had a game and participants could win a variety of prizes. We also used it as an opportunity to speak to people about OPAS and answer some questions about international shopping and personal import.

Banner

Portland has the 7th highest Japanese population in the United States, and since it was during the holidays, there were a lot of people visiting people around Portland who live in Japan. Some were native Japanese visiting American relatives, and some were Americans who live in Japan, but came home for the holidays.

Many had never heard of our company, and had never heard of a service like ours. “Our daughter [or son, or niece, or nephew] lives in Japan and is always asking us to send things!” was a statement we heard many times. With OPAS there is no need to bother relatives to send favorites from home. With your OPAS account you can order online from an American retailer, send it to your OPAS address in Portland, and then we will consolidate your orders and prepare them for international shipping. When you are ready to have them sent to you, just a couple clicks gets them on their way.

A couple people asked us about shipping cars to and from Japan. This is a much bigger proposition than importing a phone or sweater, and we usually recommend a company that specializes in importing and exporting motor vehicles. We have sent scooters overseas, however. And we see a lot of car parts go through our warehouse.

“I have a car I imported from Japan specially. However, I can’t get the parts I need in the US.” This is an issue we heard at the festival. “My mechanic doesn’t want to send the parts I need overseas, so I have to wait for someone who is coming to the US to bring them for me.” In this day and age there is no more need for people to wait weeks or months to get things sent internationally. We recommended she use OPAS and have her mechanic send the parts to our Osaka office. From there we’ll get them sent to her home in the US. This was one of the more unique situations we heard about, but I was glad we were able to help her.

many-mustang-rims-at-am2014

Some people asked about foods and wine. For example, you cannot ship wine using the US Postal Service because all alcoholic beverages are considered “Hazardous Materials.” However you can ship wine to Japan using Yamato Transport, but you can’t using UPS unless you are a licensed wine shipper. Even if the carrier will take it, there are some countries where alcohol is illegal. It’s not hard to guess that firearms and ammunition cannot be shipped internationally. But did you know knives can be just as difficult?

People are not surprised that spray paint cannot be shipped in the mail, but neither can most bottles of nail polish. Most people don’t need to send rubbing alcohol in the mail, because it’s cheaper to buy than send. That’s why they are surprised to find out perfume and cologne are also mostly restricted for shipping because of their alcohol content. We tell our users to check before you order whether or not an item can be sent overseas. Of course, we check as well to make sure we are not sending items that will get confiscated.

chanel-no-5-perfume-mc-0513-lg

Do you have questions about ordering and getting items shipped to you? Please feel free to ask us here or email us at service@opas.com

The Story Of Our Founder, Part 2

We continue with our entertaining series of blog posts written by our president and founder Toshiyasu Abe.

Today, I’d like to share a story from my youth, when I was traveling the world.

I was only 19 years old when I visited Europe for the first time.  Just like my trip from Japan to the U.S., I traveled by ship from New York to Southampton, England, then took a train from there to London, and stayed at a youth hostel for a few nights.

founder and president OPAS Toshiyasu Abe

 

While I was in London, I remember reading that the most beautiful town in the world was called Edinburgh, in Scotland. (Very effective marketing from the Edinburgh tourism board!)  Since I had no particular plan to go anywhere, I decided to visit Edinburgh and see “the most beautiful town in the world” for myself.

By the time my train got to Edinburgh, it was almost evening. I did think the town was lovely at first glance, but as I got off the train, something rather peculiar happened; a group of strangely-dressed children approached me, evidently begging for food. I didn’t have any, so I apologized and went on my way.

I then saw several other groups of children who were begging as well, who were also dressed oddly, in my opinion.  When I stepped outside of the train station, there were even more children panhandling. I was definitely confused, I didn’t know why Edinburgh as such a beautiful town would have so many poor children begging for food, and it made me very sad.

After spending two nights in Edinburgh, I went back to London.  I did not see any children begging there.  The beautiful but poor town of Edinburgh had made a strong impression on me. From time to time I would recall the little panhandlers I saw, and shared this experience with my friends.

It wasn’t until perhaps seven or eight years has passed that I understood. I was telling one of my friends the sad story of the children in Edinburgh.  He then asked me what time of the year it was when I had visited. Although I had told the story numerous times, this was the first time someone had asked this specific question in response.

I remembered it was very cold at night; so cold that I had to sleep in layers of my sweaters and blankets to keep myself warm.  I told him it was either October or November.  “Oh, it was Halloween!”, my friend said with a laugh.  It sure was!  The “poor, strangely-dressed children” were trick-or-treating for candy, not panhandling!

I had never heard of Halloween when I lived in Japan.  Even after I moved to the U.S. and learned a bit about the holiday, I never really put the children in Edinburgh and Halloween together.  I still find it funny that for many years I had carried these children in Edinburgh as a sad memory!

Edinburgh was a beautiful town and definitely memorable, even outside the Halloween misunderstanding.  I always share this story whenever I get a chance, I feel like it is a representation of what made me want to travel, and to learn about other places and people in this great wide world.

Connecting with people from different places and connecting them to each other has been a goal of mine, which is a big part of why I chose to work and start my business in the field of international shipping and commerce.

I also had another experience in Edinburgh that sounds like something from a novel or movie, but that’s a story for another time.

Summer Sales, Shop With OPAS

summer sales

OPAS, the shipping service that clients call ‘helpful’, ‘reliable’ and ‘trustworthy’ opens up a world of shopping opportunities.  Would you like to go on a shopping spree and make use of the summer sales? We’ve put together a list of items and sales and items that caught our attention this week.

SHOP TILL YOU DROP

Fire Tablet, 7″ Display, Wi-Fi, 8 GB – Including Special Offers – $49.99

OZ Naturals products, setting the standard in naturally derived skincare Prices start at $15.79 for the best hyaluronic acid serum.

Herschel Supply Co. Little America Backpack – Start the new school year in style $74.98 

Nike Women’s Free Rn Flyknit Running Shoe – run, walk or skip in style – Prices start at $84.10

Join the denim revolution at American Eagle with on trend jeans – Prices start at $49.95. 

SUMMER SALES

Shop a wide range of daily discounts and sales at the Vitamin Shoppe, another OPAS favorite, get the supplements and vitamins you need at great prices. FREE Shipping to your OPAS address on orders of $25 or more. 

Passionate about technology and driven by innovation, ASUS aspires to bring you the best in technology. NewEgg has regular sales, helping you save even more. Prices for laptops start at only $379 with free or very low shipping rates to your OPAS address. 

The Nordstrom Anniversary Sale, what is it? 
In short, MAJOR markdowns on the hottest trends and brands. This sale really is too good to miss, because for a limited time, Nordstrom offers brand-new fall styles at seriously discounted prices.  Dates: July 22 – August 8.

Most if not all of these items will ship to your OPAS US address for FREE! 

On top of getting your favorite brands at great prices, did you know that with OPAS you are also saving up to 10% in US sales tax just by shipping your items to Oregon?

New to OPAS?

If you need any help getting started with your first shipment please let us know, our customer service team is here to help. Send us an email at service@opas.com, we are happy to answer any question you may have.

summer sales 

How To Shop Online Without A US Billing Address

The world is filled with plenty of great opportunities for deals on everything from clothing to cookware to electronics, and many of them are there for the taking if you know where to look. But for many of us, the chance to really seize some of the best deals out there is out of reach. You know just where to find those opportunities, but the fact is that US residents and their US Billing Address are able to take advantage of far more of them than the rest of the world. That gives them a big advantage over those looking for the best deals – if you are locked out of sales, you can’t take advantage of them. In short, you have to be in it to win it.

With a US Unlocked card and a mail forwarding address, you can actually be in it, no matter where you are. 

How To Shop Online Without A US Billing Address

  1. You’re given a US-based PO box and a US Unlocked digital debit card connected to that address.
  2. When you place an order online, you use the card and the address to make your purchases.
  3. Those purchases are shipped to the PO box, where they’re then forwarded to your current address.

This makes it easy to take advantage of a huge range of sales, including Black Friday sales, Memorial Day and Labor Day sales, and much more. And it lets you shop at the official US sites for companies like Amazon, too. This can save you hundreds of dollars since many purchases are far cheaper for those in the US than for those in other countries like Australia. And you can also use your card to access memberships to sites that normally lock out foreign visitors – like Netflix or Hulu.

How To Shop Online Without A US Billing Address

In these cases, you can view the shows and films available to US subscribers. In short, if you’re not living in the US then you could be missing out on a lot of opportunities and plenty of big savings. Using a forwarding address and a US Unlocked card can give you the chance to take hold of those advantages and become part of a winning team. It’s easier than you think to get started, and could change the way you shop online for good. If you’re ready to learn more, our team is ready to have you join us. Contact us today to find out more or to get started setting up your account.

Get Your US Unlocked Card Now!

Click the card image below to get your card and start shopping right away!

get-a-prepaid-virtual-credit-card

Disclosure statement:
The US Unlocked Card is issued by Metropolitan Commercial Bank, member FDIC, pursuant to a license from Visa, U.S.A., Inc  “Metropolitan” and “Metropolitan Commercial Bank” are registered trademarks of Metropolitan Commercial Bank © 2014. Use of the Card is subject to the terms and conditions of the applicable Cardholder Agreement and fee schedule, if any.

The Story Of Our Founder, Part 1

OPAS’ founder and President, Toshiyasu Abe shares his story with us in this personal blogpost about his background and the story of how OPAS came about: 

I was born in Ehime Prefecture on Shikoku Island of Japan, and raised in the city of Osaka, the second largest in Japan. I had a fairly traditional upbringing in Japan, just another young man among many, but from an early age I felt the strong desire to see more of the world than my home county. Only a few weeks after graduating from high school, I traveled to the United States by ship. It was the first of four different countries other than Japan in which I would reside, including Canada, Switzerland and Germany.

It was twenty-six years ago, in 1990 that I founded OPAS in Seattle, Washington.

Through this blog, I’d like to tell the story of OPAS. We have had some very interesting experiences in our history, I feel, and I also want to impart what wisdom I have regarding business. I’d like to share advice for those who wish to be successful in personal importing, based on my twenty-six years as the President of OPAS. I’d welcome feedback and questions from readers, so that I can write on topics you may be particularly interested in.

When I founded OPAS, there was no other business that offered this kind of forwarding service. Honestly, I don’t think many people understood my business model at first, but this may have been because they were Americans who were used to having a wide variety of shopping options and products at their disposal. Perhaps they didn’t understand the market for this kind of service, or the convenience and options it could allow for international buyers; or perhaps my explanation wasn’t quite right.

Remember, in 1990 when I founded OPAS, there was no online shopping. There wasn’t even “online” for most consumers; the earliest internet applications were used mostly by universities and for government purposes. But there was catalog shopping. It may sound humorously primitive now, but people in countries outside the US used to shop by sending order forms in the mail from these catalogs, or by phone if they spoke English. Fax machines were popular for this kind of ordering within Japan, but not as much in the US.

The fax machine was the key to beginning OPAS. I remember being astonished by the utility of a fax machine, and what I saw also was that many of these catalog stores didn’t ship to Japan. So with my fax machine and a stack of catalogs, I decided to build a bridge between the Japanese buyers and the American stores. I would place these orders in the US for my Japanese customers, and ship their products to them internationally.

the story of opas

As the age of the internet began, computers became more and more popular, appearing in every household. Soon, companies like Amazon.com and Google were founded.  The way of shopping had transitioned from catalog shopping to online shopping, with a nearly unlimited amount of options for international buyers.

I never imagined how the way people shop would change so drastically in a quarter century, from 1990 to today. As I’ve watched the world of commerce become digital, I continue to wonder: how will the way people shop change in the future? It will be interesting to find out.

Here Are 10 Shopping Strategies You Can Use To Save Money Now

Here Are 10 Shopping Strategies You Can Use To Save Money Now

Saving money matters in a big way, and it’s well worth taking some time to understand more about how to cut costs and save as much as you can. But it’s not always easy, and here at OPAS we think you deserve to get all the info you can on the subject.

With that in mind, here are 10 shopping strategies that can save you money now.

Here Are 10 Shopping Strategies You Can Use To Save Money Now

  1. Know When To Shop – The simple fact is that sometimes you don’t need something immediately. In these cases you can afford to shop around and wait on better prices. Be sure to remember that you don’t always have to rush right out and make a purchase.
  1. Shop Online – Online shopping can offer you big savings. Even if you’re outside the US, you’ll have options that can let you shop at major American stores – more on that in a second. The key thing to remember is to always check around online.
  1. Timing Matters – US stores regularly run all sorts of specials, and even major purchases like NuSkin or products from major retailers like Victoria’s Secret often go on sale during different times of the year. Things like President’s Day sales or Black Friday can save you big, so be sure to time your efforts properly.
  1. Coupons Work –Make sure you consult Google before and during shopping. Sits like retailmenot will have coupons but niche bloggers will sometimes also offer great discounts and promotions you can use to improve your savings.
  1. Shop Around – It doesn’t take much time when you’re shopping online to compare different prices. You can often even use search engines like Google to get quick comparisons of different prices at different retailers. Make sure you don’t forget Amazon. You can find many unexpected items and brands on Amazon.
  1. Sign Up – One thing that many people overlook is that signing up for rewards clubs can help save big. In some cases like Amazon Prime you may have to pay for a membership, but in other instances signing up is free and can net you some big savings.
  1. Shop for gifts on unlikely dates – think about Christmas gifts in January or Mother’s day gifts in February, by having a list of people and the gifts you might want to purchase for them handy you can always make a successful purchase and have a little storage with gifts that are ready to go
  1. Expand Your Horizons – You probably have a dozen or so go-to stores or websites you shop from, right? But what are you missing out there? Take some time to look into other business. You could get great service and even better pricing. (again, think Amazon)
  1. Set Up Your US mailing Address – This is what we alluded to way up in tip 2. If you’re outside the US it can be easy to feel like you will miss out on some opportunities. OPAS can set up a US mailing address for you and forward your orders, letting you save in the process.
  1. Tax Free Matters – Not only do most states run tax free days for school related supplies, but those with an Oregon address can order online for free. Once again, our forwarding service can make a big difference for you.

US Mailing address forwarding perfect if you like to shop and save in the US.  You shouldn’t miss out on those just because you live elsewhere. Contact OPAS today to find out more about this service and how to make it work for you. 

 

Address Forwarding Makes US Clearance Sales Available Anywhere

Let’s face it, US Clearance Sales and other special offers available in the US can make it easy to get some fabulous prices on a wide range of different products, from Amazon discounts to breakout products like NuSkin. But if you’re outside the US, you’ll need to use a US mailing address forwarding company to help provide you with a solution to a big issue, you don’t live in the US.

In short, you may not be able to take advantage of any of these great sales. The good news is, we are here to help!  OPAS allow you to get the prices and enjoy US clearance sales you deserve on anything. Best of all, US mailing address forwarding isn’t as difficult to set up or to use as you might think. Let’s take a look at a few basics:

US Mailing Address Forwarding Basics
How does it work? Essentially, you set up your US mailing address forwarding system like this – OPAS takes your current mailing address and attaches it to a US mailing address like a PO Box. When you place an order, you provide your US address. The parcel is sent there, then forwarded from there to your current location.

US mailing address forwarding is used regularly throughout the world by everyone from Americans living abroad to foreign residents who want to enjoy the deeper savings of US clearance sales.

US Mailing Address Forwarding Costs
The overall costs of US Mailing address forwarding depends largely upon the size and weight of items you’re ordering and upon your overall location. That’s why OPAS offers an easy to use shipping calculator to clients, letting them utilize it to determine just how much the costs will be. In most cases, shipping costs are low when you factor in the deep discounts on products that you can’t find elsewhere in the world and OPAS’ commitment to consolidating your packages. 

US Mailing Address Forwarding

US Mailing address forwarding is something you need to pay attention to if you’re trying to shop and save online. Online shopping has made it easier than ever to find the best products at the best prices, and you shouldn’t miss out on those just because you live elsewhere. Contact OPAS today to find out more about this service and how to make it work for you.

US Mailing Address Forwarding

US Mailing Address Forwarding Makes US Sales Available Anywhere

US Clearance sales and other special offers available in the US can make it easy to get some fabulous prices on a wide range of different products, from Amazon discounts to breakout products like NuSkin.

But if you’re outside the US, you’ll need to use a US mailing address forwarding company to help provide you with a solution to a big issue. In short, if you don’t have a US address, you may not be able to take advantage of any of these great sales.

US Mailing address forwarding services like OPAS allow you to get the prices you deserve on anything. Best of all, it isn’t as difficult to set up or to use as you might think.

US Mailing Address Forwarding

US Mailing Address Forwarding Basics

How does it work? Essentially, you set up your US mailing address forwarding system like this:

  • OPAS takes your current mailing address and attaches it to a US mailing address like a PO box.
  • When you place an order, you provide your US address.
  • The parcel is sent there, then forwarded from there to your current location.

US mailing address forwarding is used regularly throughout the world by everyone, from Americans living abroad to foreign residents who want to enjoy the deeper savings of US clearance sales.

US Mailing Address Forwarding Costs

The overall costs of US Mailing address forwarding depends largely upon the size and weight of items you’re ordering and upon your overall location. That’s why OPAS offers an easy to use shipping calculator to clients, letting them utilize it to determine just how much the costs will be. In most cases, shipping costs are low when you factor in the deep discounts on products that you can’t find elsewhere in the world.

Simply put, US Mailing address forwarding is something you need to pay attention to if you’re trying to shop and save online. Online shopping has made it easier than ever to find the best products at the best prices, and you shouldn’t miss out on those just because you live elsewhere.

Contact OPAS today to find out more about this service and how to make it work for you.

US Mailing Address Forwarding

Can A US Virtual Mailbox Make Your (Mom’s) Day?

Can A US Virtual Mailbox Make Mom’s Day?

Can A US Virtual Mailbox Make Mom’s Day?As spring is rapidly turning into summer, the focus for most people turns to relaxation and enjoyment of the season.  Although the winter holidays receive much focus for shopping and gifting, spring and summer sales are also opportune times to take advantage of great deals.  With Mother’s Day approaching on the 10th of May, many of you are also beginning to think about ways to make this day special for a very loved person.

We often find that purchasing trends come in waves, although many online retailers also keep running sales between the bigger holidays.  This can also make it easier to find just the right items for mom, and shipping to a US virtual mailbox can also mean that she will be able to receive and enjoy these gifts.

The Best Gifts In A US Virtual Mailbox

One of the consistent best sellers that we see come through the US virtual mailbox here at OPAS is just about anything from Nu Skin.  These beauty products are highly touted for their anti-ageing and rejuvenating qualities, and combinations of skin care products range from washes and lotions for specific skin types to full facial spa treatments.  These items can not only delight mom when they arrive in the US virtual mailbox, but can also provide a sense of luxury right in the home.

Some favorite offerings from Nu Skin include an assortment of essential oils.  These items not only benefit skin health, but can also be used to address common complaints such as headaches exhaustion, and moods.  Creating a gift basket that includes such offerings can result in a wonderful treat for mom, and a US virtual mailbox can also ensure that the treat arrives as planned.

Shipping Considerations For A US Virtual Mailbox

While selecting gifts for mom can be part of the excitement of showing your appreciation for this special lady, you do want to make sure that your purchase will reach her.  The use of a US virtual mailbox facilitates this matter for many vendor shipping constraints, but it should still be noted that some products can be limited.  If you are considering Nu Skin for mom this year, you will also want to make sure that your US virtual mailbox is able to accept and forward the products.

Liquids that contain high concentrations of alcohol can be an issue for a US virtual mailbox and package forwarding, since there are country restrictions on shipping these substances.  To be certain that mom gets the gifts which are intended for her, we recommend that customers using a US virtual mailbox do review the limitations on specific products.  This way, you will know that she is getting the full surprise you had intended.

We also encourage shoppers to contact OPAS, whether it is to acquire a US virtual mailbox for your orders, or whether it is to engage a personal shopping assistant in making the right selections for a Mother’s Day present.