Mr Price, branded as the somewhat more simplified MRP, looks like being the single biggest export from South Africa since Nando’s restaurants swept the world. The MRP brand launching in the UK and here in Australia is a bold move, especially as they have done it in what can only be described as a “go big and stay at home” style.
When other international chain stores and brands, such as H&M, decided to have a go at the Aussie market, it’s usually been by sticking a toe or two into the major centres to see if they can generate enough interest to warrant a full launch. With MRP there are no stores anywhere just yet, but in a sense they are everywhere as they’ve opened their online store to the world. This approach is one which other overseas retailers may want to pay attention to. With minimal outlay, MRP will be able to gauge which areas, if any, would likely see success for their actual retail stores.
QUALITY & PRICING
Before we get to how exactly you get their clothes, we had better move on to the important questions that relate to any clothes – quality and price. On the basis of their reputation and status in South Africa, they get the perfect balance. Like most clothing stores they licence from garment manufacturers worldwide, releasing them all under their own “RT” or “River Trader” brand name. As for how much of a success they have been in their home territory, well, as many Australians will be aware of they sponsor more than one franchise team in the Super Rugby tournament. That’s not exactly a cheap thing to do these days.
For Australians, the costs of clothes when compared to other stores gives mixed results. In comparison with Target, who will be their main competition, tops at MPR seem to average around $4 - $8 cheaper, yet when it comes to pants and jeans MRP are usually more expensive in the same kind of dollar range. So you could in theory pick up half your outfits from MRP to make a saving. Then again, a potential downside is the shipping.
The MRP website isn’t as clear as it could be on this, but everything suggests the clothes get shipped directly from South Africa. Usually, standard airmail from there to here takes about two weeks, with express being within five days. Not bad for birthday cards and letters, but not always ideal for clothing.
The cost of shipping is not unreasonable, but can negate the benefit you get from the lower cost clothes items. For standard postage, there seems to be a fixed rate in place of $12 if your order is under $90, with orders over $90 getting a lower $5 shipping charge. Their express shipping varies depending on the size and weight of your order, but mostly it seems to work out as being never less than 50% of what you spent on items. In practical terms, it seems an order of around $50 will cost you $30 in shipping.
In respect of the shipping, the infamous inadequacies of the South African Postal System need to be considered. Whereas mail from South Africa to other countries generally makes it OK, their system is notorious for inbound mail going “missing”. It’s important to bear this in mind for returns, as shipping back anything is on your expense. You would be better served sending it via registered mail although in all likelihood the cost of this would be more than the value of the clothes you ordered. If you are going to use MRP, it’s probably best that you do so accepting that returns are not always going to be viable option.
A plus point on shipping, Australia doesn’t usually impose an import tax on items valued under $1000 so long as they are not alcohol or tobacco related. If you use MRP, then, at least the price you pay for the goods and shipping are likely to be the only cost related to your order.
Whereas you can rely on the quality of what you will get at MRP, getting the best value for money from them in Australia is limited to – as far as the current set up goes and outside of any special promotions – spotting something on their site that really appeals and which can't be found anywhere else. Ultimately, the value you get will primarily come down to whatever savings you've made versus the offsetting effects of the delivery costs combined with the length of time it'll take for your order to arrive.
Having said that, however, keep an eye out for free shipping promotions (like their recent "free shipping on orders over $70" offer during May) and other coupon code discounts being made available. So far MRP have dished out three different coupons along with the free delivery offer in a relatively short period of time. These are definitely aspects that wouldn't have gone unnoticed by online shoppers and are sure to have already bagged them some brownie points.
As things stand, it’s unclear just what market or level of demand exists amongst Australians for importing their mid to budget range clothes from South Africa, but it will be interesting to hear stories of those who make an order. So please leave comments below with any experiences you've had of purchasing from MRP if you believe they would be valuable to other potential customers.