Ever dream of an app where that random product you need that isn't sold in your corner of the globe is procured and delivered seamlessly from someone who lives there? Well, now it exists, and it’s called Grabr.
In my own life, I discovered Grabr after learning that an over-the-counter medicine sold in Russia works better for a chronic medical condition than any I've been prescribed in the United States. The problem was that I live in suburban Washington, D.C., some 5,000 miles away from the nearest Russian pharmacy. I had gone so far as to ask a Moscow-based colleague to ship me some, but doing so felt like asking an unwieldy favor. What I really needed was some kind of international product teleportation device, and Grabr functions exactly this way.
The company formalizes a system that connects you with travelers to acquire and deliver items to you from around the world. Call it peer-to-peer shipping, if you like. Whatever can be legally transported on a commercial flight can now be yours. From requesting my Russia-based item to holding it in my hands in Virginia, four days passed. In those four days, a Grabr agent picked my medicine up at a Russian apteka, flew to the United States (presumably with several other Grabr deliveries to make), and made the requisite drop-off arrangements, which I had set up ahead of time in the app. All the communication necessary to make this happen takes place within the Grabr app. The user experience is wonderfully low-impact. There’s little thought required beyond knowing what you want and knowing how much it’s worth to you.
After designating the item you want delivered, you set a dollar amount that will go to the deliverer. The incentive here is obvious: Items with higher rewards will be picked up and delivered more quickly. You pay the price of the item itself, and a 7 percent service charge. The end result is something like DHL meets Airbnb.
International delivery is often rife with legal restrictions and bureaucratic red tape. Grabr successfully skips a lot of this by adhering to FAA luggage regulations. Furthermore, the company keeps tabs on import law — which items are illegal to bring to other countries. If anything seems questionable, Grabr agents are encouraged to declare its items.
“It is interesting to note that people have been doing this for family and friends for generations,” says a company spokesperson. “Grabr takes this age-old practice and gives people access to goods from around the world, where they may not have friends or family to help them obtain these items, or receive them sooner or more often instead of being forced to rely on a friend or relative traveling every so often.”
Do you want chocolate from Switzerland? Maple syrup from Canada? Suddenly these specialized items are easily acquired without travel, especially if you don’t know anyone to bring such items your way. Now products from around the globe are there for the taking without even requiring you to leave the house.
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