Increasingly, people are turning to the internet for their shopping needs, as there is more variety available, and it’s much easier to compare prices between retailers. You can often find the best deals online, with some of them being exclusive to retailers’ online shops. Companies such as Amazon have really paved the way for shopping on the internet, offering a huge selection of various different products, as well as a membership program that includes free 2-day shipping.
If you can’t find a specific product in-store, it’s almost guaranteed that you will be able to find it for sale on the internet; this sometimes makes us wonder “why bother going to the store?” Of course purchasing in-store has its advantages too, the main being that you get your product in the same day and you’re able to inspect it in person. And don’t forget that you won’t have to wait half a day to speak to a live person about any questions or issues that arise regarding the products.
Regardless of which you choose, shopping should be a good experience overall. That’s why we’ve put together this guide to online shopping, as it’s not always as black and white as shopping in store, and you could probably use some tips to get started.
Some Well-Known Online Retailers
If you aren’t sure of the name of the product you’re looking for, it’s best to start out by browsing some online retailer websites, such as Amazon.com. Home to the Kindle, Amazon.com is one of the most popular online markets, selling everything from groceries to lab supplies; it’s like the Walmart of the internet, but a bit better, as it offers more of a variety of products. Amazon also has a yearly membership program (Amazon Prime) that includes access to free e-books, unlimited photo storage, unlimited music streaming, free 2-day shipping, and free online movie streaming.
If 2-day shipping isn’t quick enough, Amazon Prime gives its members the option of checking out with 1-day shipping for a reduced rate. Amazon Prime costs $99 per year and has a reduced yearly rate for students, as well as a 30-day free trial for new members. Whether you decide to join Amazon Prime or not, Amazon is still a great place to shop online.
Another feature of Amazon that is worth noting is their Subscribe & Save option, which allows you to receive a discount when buying a product on a monthly basis. Even if you don’t want the product delivered every month, you can still save some money with Subscribe & Save. Eligible items can be added to your delivery list regardless, and then you choose how often you want the product delivered.
Amazon will then automatically process your payment on a specific date each month when you do have items in your subscription list. If you have 5 items in your list per month, you’ll save an extra 15 percent, rather than the usual 5 percent savings on Subscribe & Save eligible items.
Another well-known online retailer is Overstock. Overstock.com offers bargains on a variety of items, mostly for the home, but also other items such as electronics, jewelry, apparel, and gifts. Depending on your location, they also have an online farmer’s market that will deliver organic produce and grass-fed beef to your door.
Here are two you may already know about, if you happen to be a TV watcher: HSN and QVC. HSN.com offers daily specials, flex pay, and a little bit of something for everyone, including food. Many of HSN’s products have free shipping, and their website even has an arcade where you can play online games, as well as a whole community where you can interact with other customers.
QVC.com also offers daily deals, easy pay (their version of flex pay or a pay-per-installments payment system), and has similar offerings to HSN; though there are products that are exclusive to QVC and vice versa. The added bonuses of both HSN and QVC are that they have their own television channels, allowing you to shop whether you’re connected to the internet or not.
As for in-person stores, many of them have their own websites as well, which are trustworthy, and are usually the name of their company with .com added; this makes it easy to figure out if you’re at the right place when you’re browsing the web.
How to Stay Safe on Online Marketplaces
For a low monthly cost of less than $15, a VPN will let you browse the web anonymously, keeping your personal information secure. While most online check-outs are secure, the other sections of the websites typically are not. A VPN extends security to the rest of the website by encrypting your traffic.
Other than that, it is best not to save your payment information on a website, if the option is available. That way, if the website is compromised, your credit card information will not be on file.
Watch Out for Fake Products
Be wary when it comes to not purchasing products directly from online retailers themselves. An example being when you’re buying from Amazon.com; there are some products that are listed on the site but are not sold by Amazon themselves. Pay attention to whom the seller is, as you’re able to click on their name and read reviews from other customers.
Another place you’ll need to be wary is when you’re buying from eBay.com. eBay is a marketplace for sellers to list their items freely; because of this, it’s easier for fake products to be sold through their website compared to other online markets. Luckily, if you do buy through eBay, you have a certain amount of time to open up a case for a refund.
How to Find the Best Deals
If you already have a product in mind, finding the best deals is easy. Just type the product name into a search engine such as Google, and Google itself will show a list of prices to compare. Not only that, but you can also easily visit different links to online retailers to check the price.
Another thing that will save you money while shopping online is taking part in a rebate program. Ebates and FatWallet are two websites where you can earn cashback on your online purchases. Both are relatively easy to use and will have you stacking the dollars in no time (as long as you remember to visit them before you buy, at least!).
Now that you know where to go for the best deals, it’s time to get shopping. Online shopping should be an easy and fun adventure, as long as you keep your information secure and stick to trustworthy websites. Keep in mind that there are big savings to be had when shopping on the internet, it’s just a matter of finding them.
If you make use of Google, you should be able to compare prices much easier than before, and for free; no need to buy a newspaper to check out the weekly bargains!