Expat Essentials: New Splitcha app will let you shop online in any country

Okay, the pandemic has you trapped in a country far from home and you’re running out of stuff. The stores are closed. So what do you do?

Splitcha ….

London-based Splitcha is a new app-driven e-commerce platform scheduled to go live 1 May connecting buyers and sellers all over the world – people who combine forces to help each other out. Sort of like Amazon, but not the same.

The Splitcha value proposition: “We developed an app and a new market that makes it easier for customers to shop online in any country without paying exorbitant shipping fees.”

From the website:

For international orders, your items are sourced and delivered locally so you won’t pay air freight or customs charges. For domestic orders, gain access to illusive products and deals that you may not know about.

In essence, Splitcha is where personal shopping meets international commerce, says CEO and founder Anthony Rushton.

Anthony Rushton

Let’s real-world this for you from an actual case:

Our American friends went to visit their daughter at her university in Scotland back in 2017. They were shocked – shocked! – to discover their U.S. Amazon Prime account wasn’t valid there. But if Splitcha would have existed, they could have used it to source what they needed locally.

“Yes, that’s exactly right,” Rushton said in a LinkedIn messaging exchange. Our friends could have posted their order on Splitcha and an e-shopper in the UK would have gotten them what they needed using his or her UK-based premium accounts, then sent the goods to our friends’ hotel.

The vendor would have gotten a sale, and our friends would have lived happily ever after. The online shopper in the UK takes 8 percent for using their online accounts to buy the order and Splitcha/PayPal fees are 7 percent.

Rushton said one goal is for customers to have access to specialised retailers outside of Amazon: “So if they needed candles, our shopper in the UK would try to source it from a UK retailer for the agreed price target. In a peer-to-peer platform, what we really want to do is pull in local businesses.”

Splitcha allows you to access a global network of people who have access to products that you do not, he said. “Not to mention their local knowledge and any specialist areas of interest,” he added.

Splitcha is designed to give local businesses a seat on the platform so they can sell their products to a global audience without building a website or contracting with a payments service.

The idea for Splitcha came to Rushton after he had a difficult time buying online outside the UK while traveling and is aimed at people on vacation, expats, international students, Airbnb renters, gift-givers, business travelers and anyone who needs to shop online in a country other than their own.

Splitcha’s network initially will extend into several countries: “We have ‘sellers’ in the UK, USA, Canada, Germany, Spain, Italy, France, Australia and India.”

Potential Spitcha users include:

• people buying gifts for friends and family abroad

• parents buying care packages for students studying overseas

• people who need specialty items, including baby stuff

• businesses needing supplies for events in other countries

• executives buying gifts for international corporate clients and contacts

• vacationers who need supplies for homes in other countries

If all this sounds, well, obvious and simple, it’s not.

The Splitcha team had to develop a digital platform, figure out the payment system, the legal issues and, of course, raise the capital. So far, he’s raised 850,000 pounds from several private investors, Rushton said.

San Jose-based PayPal is the payment provider. “The biggest thing we did was to get PayPal involved,” Rushton said.

Rushton is no amateur. At 48, he’s owned businesses since he was 30. Those businesses included Telemetry, a London-based independent digital media forensics company that made global headlines in 2014 for exposing digital advertising fraud, a company he shuttered in 2017.

Now, Splitcha keeps moving forward, closing a second round of funding in February.

“It’s just a really good tool, so I think there tends to be investors for these technologies.”

For more more online shopping options, see our archive here.

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Co-CEO of Dispatches Europe. A former military reporter, I'm a serial expat who has lived in France, Turkey, Germany and the Netherlands.

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