There's a free shipping deal running on the Zazzle.co.nz site until December 6th; I was planning to take rampant advantage. There are also a LOT of deals - often up to 50% - running on the main .com site
I just checked the differences on a keychain to take advantage of the free shipping - turns out that the total cost including shipping to NZ costs nearly twice as much.
Here are my calculations (I had two tabs open, and was testing on one off my own keychains, so default price; conversions are rounded and exact exchange rate varies anyway so pfft)
keychain = $5.54 (US$4.12)
Shipping = $9.35 (US$6.95 )
Total= $14.89 ($11.07 USD)
keychain = $2.95 ($3.97 NZD)
Shipping = $3.99 ($5.36 NZD)
Total= $6.94 ($9.34 NZD)
The actual product is almost the same price, allowing for slight variations in conversion rate. The difference gets a lot more marked at higher prices (a $42 iPhone = $54ish NZ, while on the NZ site, it's $63) by the shipping is very different.
The total cost is $6.94 on the US site, and $11.07 on the NZ site.
There is NO REASON for the shipping to be marked up like that! The item itself is marked up, allegedly to cover import taxes and local market value, which is partly bull, depending on where you live and how much you order. And the internet is global now - creating artificial country divisions doesn't work with anyone halfway internet savvy.
After playing around a bit more, I found that I could use one of the coupons that was active at the moment - 50% off keychains, hence my experiment - to place an order for $23 NZ, that would have cost $49.86 NZ, with the free shipping. The US deals are way better, frankly.
I also found that the point at which the bulk discount on products kicks in is the point it jumps up to the next tier in shipping, so it's worth playing around with your cart, and possibly placing two orders (e.g. 2x9 keychains at $3.99 shipping, rather than 18 keychains, with a 17% discount, and $12.99 shipping).
The bulk shipping is probably one reason for the 'high' shipping prices - you are much better off shipping in bulk than singly. The fact that different products ship separately is real pain, though. That's the one place where the free shipping would be worth it. That, or just stalking the deals and placing separate orders.
What does it mean? It means be really careful, doublecheck what you are about to pay, don't be afraid to order from overseas - and check if there's a better deal on that site.
And if you're selling... well, take the time to go through and find out what shipping will cost and how many you can buy before the shipping increases. Have a look at the exchange rates, and remember that the .com site usually has the best and the most. Having to faff around figuring out what would cost what is one of the things that's put me off so long.
I did order some keychains, though. From the US domain, with the 50% off code. I'll order some more stuff, probably, while the deals are going. The NZ free shipping doesn't expire until Monday, after all... and it came out of my pending Zazzle earnings for this month anyway, so it would only have sat in my Paypal until I spent it.
Update: my keychains arrived, and my cat approved.