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Online shopping in Spain

Hello everyone,

Shopping online can be far more convenient and offer greater choice than going into shops, be it grocery shopping or retail.

Are there options for online shopping in Spain? Which sites or apps do you use most frequently and are these local or international?

Are there particular products that are cheaper to buy online or that are perhaps not available in Spain?

What is the delivery process like — is it easy to receive deliveries and what are the costs of shipping? Are there any taxes to pay upon receipt?

Thank you for sharing your experience.

Priscilla

Online shopping depends a bit on where you live or, more accurately, whether you have a decent address or not.

The main problem for local online stuff is that it's local, it's written in Spanish. So if you don't speak much Spanish then you're a bit snookered. But the international stuff is there so if you want to shop with Amazon or Ali Express or any of the big UK outlets then you usually can. Some products can't be shipped within the EU - I think, for instance, that stuff with batteries is restricted and there are, I think, also restrictions on alcohol but, in general you can get what you want online. Some firms won't deliver to Spain and some firms charge exorbitant prices if they will. Lots of firms will not consider a PO box as an address.

The problem is not really with the shopping but with the delivery.  The number of times that I've been miles from home or working when some delivery driver calls to say that they have a parcel for me and they can't find the house is legion. We live on the outskirts of a small village. We're not really that difficult to find but we're not easy to find on Google maps and, nowadays, if it's not on Google maps then it doesn't exist. Van drivers don't want to be messing around delivering to you - they want to get their parcels and packets delivered as quickly as they can. If I'm at home a four hundred metre journey gets me to a point that is on Google but, if not, the parcel is likely to get sent back to the firm.

Now if you have an address in a street in a town that problem goes away. Delivery is generally fast and efficient and more and more deliverers have drop off points within a reasonable distance - not all though. For one of the big firms my nearest drop off point is a 50km round trip.

Just as an aside none of our local supermarkets have internet shopping though the biggest supermarket chain will deliver within a 10km radius. We're 14kms from the nearest Mercadona.

Hi, if you do a right click on the Spanish text you get the option of TRANSLATE TO ENGLISH - so solves all the problems of translating.
Regards

You can get booze and batteries from around the EU no problems, if you so desire that is.

But yeah the biggest problem is your local delivery guys, some are good and some are rubbish. Every single year there are parcels that go missing which is something I have never experienced before. A missed phone call is considered a failed delivery attempt too. Aside from correos  we have two or three good companies(actually it is the drivers more so) that now know us and are not a problem any more but prior to that we did not exist apparently.

It does make me think twice about where I order from because there are some companies it is just not worth the hassle dealing with them.

Once the initial struggles are over and you know who is good and who isn't then it gets better, still not a 100 percent delivery rate though.

The issues with online shopping in Spain are following:

PLUS
1) One can get Amazon products (with warehouse in Spain) since not too long ago.
2) Online stores are upping the ante since Amazon arrived and they are also benefiting from Amazon's delivery standards which make couriers up the ante.
3) My best experiences with good CS, timely shipping and good packaging are with stores in Southern Spain.
4) Ordering from inside the EU means one is not exposed to the vicious customs scrutiny and high duties and VAT.
5) I recommend ordering items that have high VAT (even if only 10%) from inside the EU instead of in Spain as several countries have much lower VAT rates. Some local stores even had to close as it became way less expensive to buy abroad.
6) Once the many couriers available here have delivered a few times, they usually get it where you live.
7) The few good stores I know (not many) will ship within a day and the goods arrive two days later, even in a remote area.
8) Most supermarkets have online ordering (if one orders one day ahead) and often delivery is free over a certain amount or costs very little. In many countries that is still not as common. Some of their interfaces are poorly designed some even cannot process NIE numbers but it may help to leave out the start and end letters).  The supermarkets offer a reasonable delivery wait time window.
9) Ordering live local plants and trees online is also a big benefit. One can even order live pigs online and have them picked up for slaughter later on. Not many countries offer this.

MINUS
1) Many online stores pretend they are in Spain but they are really not. They usually are in Germany instead. Which means they give false expectations of delivery times and of the risk involved with returns. No, they do not have warehouses in Spain, but they often have 'pass through' addresses at the industrial airport park of Barcelona.
2) Couriers usually refuse to provide a limited time window of delivery, so oen ends up waiting all day.
3) Many couriers do not provide sufficient or timely updates on teh delivery day.
4) Delivering a day late is also not unusual.
5) In rural areas couriers are too often ill informed about the location of delivery addresses, so it is best to give them one's cell phone and add instructions on finding teh location. Even then some are too lazy or disorganized to use either.
6) Online stores often have no good CS attitude, resulting in no CS access during siestas, holidays, weekend days, rare email updates, slow shipping day (can take up to a week, rarely immediate even if small stores).
7) Messages take days to be replied to or do not get replied to at all.
8) Websites are too often poorly designed and full of bugs.
9) Ordering from outside the EU is an utter pain and way to expensive, as customs stops most packages and will minimally charge EUR 5,50 in duties, even if it is just personal even used stuff, even if just personal papers. No discussion possible unless you want to go through costly and lengthy procedures. It is a mafia racket. The likelihood of theft is also greatest if it has to go through Spanish customs.
Additionally, Spain does not allow in a lot of goods like for example a lot of supplements while other EU countries make no fuss about them or do not check far as thorougly.
So get a foreign forwarding address instead. It is worth it. It also means you do not have to deal with weeks of customs delays which are common here.
10) Most couriers refuse to just drop off deliveries while you're absent. Occasionally one may if they know you as a regular customer.
11) Need I say much about the absurd requirement to provide your Spanish tax id at delivery? It should be none of government's business to know what I buy, but here in Spain big brother is watching you. In many other EU countries that is not the case.
12) The quantity and quality of a lot of commodities in Spain is subpar. For many bulk goods and and better quality online has to order abroad.
13) Clothes sizes are often obviously too small for taller Europeans. same with shoes. So order those abroad.
14) There is little online reputation available on the online stores and their products, as opposed to sites outside Spain. For products consult the same on sites abroad.
15) The payment service PayPal is not always properly integrated with Spanish sites and can result in failures to work.
16) Quite some Spanish banks are not very good at updating one's bank balances online after an online purchase, which results in doubts about the reliability of one's online balances.  It seems there is no good national payment network nor cooperation between banks.
17) Car rental shopping is usually horrendous as the sites have all kinds of devious practices, leaving out important financial information and CS for car rentals is hard tom impossible to reach. Call centers in Spain are simply poorly equipped, poorly trained and with little authority to make decisions especially in larger companies (Amazon excepted of course).

Lots of good advice from previous subscribers. 

I usually buy from UK but have now made a number of trouble-free purchases from Spanish stores and my confidence is growing.

All the different couriers now know where we are, recognise us and know that our dog's bark is worse than his bite.  I have only made one purchase from outside the UK and that was from China.  No problems other than it took forever to get here but I had anticipated that and it wasn't urgent.

Cotton Traders are always remarkable.  Somehow they manage to get parcels to my door in three days.  The goods arrive before I have time to forget I've ordered them!

I always try to avoid anything that comes via Correo.  Last year's Christmas cards all came in one drop - in February.  Also, if parcels arrive and you are on holiday or away from home for a while, they return it to sender.

One last observation.  Our local shops are all suffering from trade lost to the increasing number of warehouses on the trading estates and online stores.  In the 3 years we have been living here we have seen so many shops close, so we try very hard to shop locally and only go online for things we simply can't find in our area.  Although we obviously pay a little more, we enjoy the convenience and the pleasure to getting to know local suppliers.

ps. I forgot to tell that for pet stuff petplanet.co.uk delivers faster than the leading online pet stores that pretend being in Spain but are not and they have a larger inventory, so more choice as well.
They are no obvious choice as their site gives the impression they are only UK focused but they can deliver here in 5 to 6 days after ordering and packaging is excellent. Their prices are better and they also offer greater bulk product packages.
The only true Spanish pet shop that also has a good interface and decent inventory even if not the cheapest and not moct complete is tiendanimal.es. They also ship/deliver fastest, far faster than the big ones, so worth the extra price.
Dutch food we order from an online store called typicaldutchstuff which operates from the Netherlands since the Dutch stores inside Spain are not very service minded (poor interface, incomplete inventory, ridiculous shipping costs, higher VAT taxes, slow to respond). The favorite store( which is further away!) can even deliver frozen and cooled food include fresh herring and has an enormous inventory, excellent prices, lower taxes and lightning fast inexpensive shipping. A regular non cooled/non frozen order took a mere 5 days to arrive. Very often stores abroad send the goods through regional or local airports instead of teh cumbersome Barcelona or Madrid way.

Hello, we live in Jaén province. Since moving to the town of Alcalá La Real, online shopping has been a joy! Because I am so busy with our new business, online shopping is often the easiest and most convenient way to buy things that we need for the house and business.


However, before we lived in the town, we lived in a small village out in the countryside and when we ordered things online, there was always a problem with delivery. The problem was that SEUR, the delivery company that a lot of businesses (like Amazon for example) use for getting parcels, packets etc delivered, refused to deliver to the outlying villages. We tried all sorts of ways to get parcels delivered but always encountered the same problems and it seems that we were not alone. The way round this was to get whatever we had ordered delivered to a friend or a shop in our town and collect it from there but that rather defeats the object of online shopping! Even paying extra for a courier service didn't guarantee delivery to the door. In the end we gave up ordering online.

Our experience  of online shopping in Spain is very positive now that delivery is fast and efficient. If I ask for a receipt for my tax, I always get one. So far, so good!

Not strictly on post but I was always used to checking out a shop online first to see what they had in stock etc and have found so many retail websites in Spain are really stuck in the early 1980's with hardly any content. Even some of the major ones like Leroy Merlin have poor quality listings. We found Media Markt have different prices from the shop and the staff did not know.

My experience has also been that Amazon.es is frequently 4 or 5 times more expensive for the same product than Amazon.co.uk. This is regardless of which EU country the goods are coming from. So far, it has mostly been cheaper to order from .co.uk and pay the postage to Spain.
I was really surprised to find that several UK stores like next do a very fast delivery to Spain with really cheap courier costs. It;s a pity that Spain is losing out on business like this.

From rural Galicia,
delivery is not a real problem but we do sometimes meet a new courier at a convenient place as we do live in very rural Galicia and these guys mostly have no GPS or G maps etc. I also post my NIE on the door when we are not around and expecting deliveries so they can pop it in the alpendre and sign for me.

Or local post lady has my credentials and I have (informaly) authorised her to sign for me as I can never make the morning slot to pick up things locally.

Shopping - well if hunting for unusual or spare parts / items I simply open amazon de es fr and co.uk as well as ebay same domains, G search and G image search. I  only compare the complete price (icl. shipping).

Just be aware from outside EU 22€ is a present and not stopped by customs. Up to 150€ it is streamlined process and only 21% IVA and handling charges apply but if it is clearly marked as spare part or replacement I had no problems so far just to get this straight in.
EBay has international customs clearance etc when shipping from the US for example,  so for specialise items like ranch equipment or electronics one has a final price without surprises.

We do support local shopping for standard items / food / basic building materials etc but simply no-one nowadays has any stock of slightly specialised items which is what we tend to buy on-line.
Payment: I only pay by c card or PP never by transfer if it is not a really trusted shop, Same for any air line tickets etc. Yes, sometimes there is a surcharge which I do think is fair as they pay it and it should not be shouldered by all. Thus I have insurance should they not perform.

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