The next time you need that whitening cream from Japan or a rare bottle of whisky from Scotland, skip Amazon and eBay. Hit Grabr instead.

The new app and website, which launched at the end of last month, pairs consumers around the world with travellers who can deliver things they otherwise can’t get their hands on, or that would be prohibitively expensive to ship: gadgets, fragrances, food, baby products, sports paraphernalia and so on.

“We know the world is getting smaller, but there are still things you just can’t get in some countries,” says Daria Rebenok, Grabr’s chief executive and co-founder.

Shoppers in, say, Hong Kong, can place an order through the site specifying what they’re looking for and how much they’re willing to pay as a “reward”; it can be as low as US$5 or in the hundreds for something that’s harder to buy and transport. Someone somewhere who can access the product and who happens to be making a trip to Hong Kong arranges to buy it and bring it over. Grabr collects the purchase price from the buyer and pays it to the traveller, along with the reward, once it’s been delivered.

Grabr is proving to be quite the moneymaker for tourists in certain parts of the world: the most demand for “foreign” products comes from Sao Paulo and Buenos Aires, with Ho Chi Minh City and Bangkok also in the top eight. Demand is so strong in these cities that travellers can often make up the entire cost of their trip just by ferrying stuff over; in Rio de Janeiro, for instance, someone is willing to pay US$400 as a reward for an Apple MacBook.

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