For those who have been following this blog for awhile, you would know that we did a one year stint in Germany for the hubby's work attachment. Then, we had just two kids: Junior J was three, and Lil J was 5 months old. That one year away was quite an eye-opener, and I've shared about some of the things we miss about staying in that country.
I sometimes think back fondly about our trips to the farmers' market, struggling with our pram as its wheels got caught in the cobblestones, while taking in the colours and smells around us. I do miss the slower pace of life there. And I must admit, I also miss the shopping there.
Shopping in Germany is quite an enjoyable experience. Aside from the usual Easter and Christmas sales, you'd find that products are priced pretty reasonably. The Germans really take pride in making good quality products, and many products display the words "Made in Germany" on their packaging in large lettering. What I especially loved was the craftmanship culture when it came to various products, such as children's toys (oh, such lovely wooden toys!) and decorative items (think Christmas decorations such as nutcrackers, and home decor items).
I confess, I went a little crazy shopping when we were there. We rummaged at flea markets. I bid for pre-loved wooden toys on eBay (wooden toys wear and last longer than plastic ones, so there is a really good market for pre-loved toys). I was even tempted by the typewriters, but I didn't get one in the end as the German keyboard is slightly different from the English one. We visited department stores during Easter sales and bought Playmobil (which can be really cheap during sales!). Amazon deliveries were a common occurrence in our home since we needed books for the kids, and there were pretty good deals for toys (again Playmobil, and other popular brands like Haba, Selecta and those wonderful Schleich figures). The toys were of good quality (unlike some of the wooden toys made elsewhere), and were priced really reasonably.
One of my regrets was not purchasing some wooden toys by Grimm's Spiel Und Holz Design, which makes some of the loveliest wooden toys around. The price of their toys seemed a little high to me, so I hesitated and didn't get any. However, I came back to Singapore, and had a rude shock when I tried finding their products here, as the prices here can be triple to quadruple the amount! These toys would probably be cheaper if I were to buy them in Germany, and then have them shipped back. However, I never got down to doing it, since it is tricky to find a shipping company to ship to SG at a reasonable price.
So you could have imagined my happiness, when the folks at myGermany.com wrote to me about their shipping service to Singapore, and I had to say "yes!" to trying out their services for a review. Unlike most third-party shipping companies which tend to be huge corporations, myGermany is a small company set up by two friends who saw the demand of German products in other parts of the world. Since it's humble beginnings in 2012, where the founders ran the company on top of working their regular jobs, the company has expanded and now includes friends and family who are part of the team.
I find that dealing with small companies has its perks: their service tends to be more personalized, and you don't feel like your emails get lost in a labyrinth of correspondence, unlike the normally large shipping companies. I also loved how the company tried to add value to their services. Christian Schmalisch, one of the founders of the company, shared with me how their company has delivered used shoes to Africa. He also shared about how they hired someone who previously had trouble finding employment because of health issues, and how this individual is now a key warehouse personnel in the company. This company, though small, seems to be one with lots of heart, and you can read more about their team here.
The purchasing and shipping process itself was straightforward. You just need to purchase your product from an online shop or site based in Germany, such as Amazon.de and ebay.de (you can view more shop listings here). I already knew I wanted to buy a wooden set from Grimm's, however, it turned out that the particular set I wanted was out of stock on their website, as well as on Amazon. However, I found it on another online shop's website (I just copied and pasted the item name in German and googled it), and at an even cheaper price!
Purchasing an item off a German site can be a little tricky, since everything is in German. However, you can use a browser that allows for language translation (I use Google Chrome, which automatically translates foreign websites into English), and you can copy and paste the German names of the items when searching for them online.
Once you have found the item you would like to purchase, you can either make the purchase on your own, and have it shipped to the personalized address provided by myGermany after you've registered on their site (that costs 1 Euro, and you can read more about the process here), or you can opt for their Concierge service to assist you in the purchase (more about that here).
I had a chance to try out their Concierge service, which helps you to purchase the items for you for a handling fee of 10% of the product price. This way, all you have to do is provide the URL of the page of the specific item you are trying to purchase, and myGermany would handle the purchasing and shipping of the item for you. This made it really easy, since I didn't have to check-out the item on an unfamiliar website, or track the shipment! There is also a pickup service provided at a flat rate of 20 Euros, should your items need to be self-collected (such as in the case of ebay purchases).
myGermany also provides the usual services such as repacking and consolidation of purchases, a shipping cost calculator, as well as goods inspection. The last feature I found was really useful, since they help to check your items after they are delivered, to ensure they are in good condition, before shipping it out to you. They even include a photograph of the actual item in your Inbox (see below)!
The checkout process is simple, and similar to most other shipping companies. You are sent an email notification once your item is in, and you just need to click a few buttons to choose your mode of shipping and make payment, and you're done!
The boys have been loving this set! I foresee that we'll be shopping more on German-based websites with the availability of such a fuss-free shipping option to Singapore. Shipping is so simple, that Christian shares that they have almost built a BMW overseas, as one individual has shipped almost 200 packages of BMW car parts with them. Thank you, myGermany, for letting us try out your services!
myGermany is offering a promotion for readers of this blog, where you can get 20% off your first shipment with them. Just type in "MAKINGMUM20" in the promotion code box, when you register with them on this page.
They are also sponsoring free shipping for up to $150 Euro for one reader of this blog! To take part in this giveaway, please follow the instructions in the Rafflecopter widget below. Do note that you have to like and comment on this FB post to enter, and complete the steps stated below. For more information, do visit their website and like their FB page to get more information and updates on promotions.