Shopping OnlineWednesday, June 01, 2016
As much as I love technology, I didn't immediately start shopping online, that is, until I started selling on eBay. That's how I got comfortable with doing business over the web. The security measures weren't as robust as they are today, but still it was a scary experience trusting your credit card information to a website. But, now that we live in the Information Age, more and more businesses are opting to cater to the online visitor more so than the in-person customer. In fact, I've been in stores looking for a specific item and been told by their salespeople to either visit their website, go to Amazon, or eBay!
I also think many companies have worked hard to make the shipping cost and experience work with perks like Amazon's Prime, free shipping after spending x amount of dollars, or offering a low flat rate shipping with no minimum order required. This makes it more attractive to buy online rather than use gas traveling to stores.
After my years of shopping online, I'll share some places I like to shop online and tips if you're a little nervous making internet purchases. First up, let's talk tips. Some of these are common sense, but still worth noting:
- Shop on websites that are trustworthy. I tend to stay away from online stores that I don't recognize. And, I'll share my list of shops that I use most often later. However, if you're thinking of doing business with an online shop for the first time, then do some research on them. Search out reviews because other people give their honest opinions and many times that can help you make an informed decision. Also, are they a member of the BBB? You can check to see. I would also check their feedback rating especially if you're buying from a third party on Amazon or eBay.
- Is the site using SSL? This means that all shops that sell online collecting credit card payments should be using a secured server. You'll know this by the web address. It will always start with https:// instead of http://, if not, do NOT do business with them, get off their website quick!
- What is the seller's return policy? Do they have one? I think you should know this upfront because you're not able to try the product on if it's clothing or pick it up to see if it's the right color. So, what happens when you receive it, and you don't like it, it doesn't fit, etc.? Are you stuck with it? Can you return it and get a full or partial refund? Or do they only give you a credit? You don't want to walk away from a sale with a bad taste in your mouth.
- What is their shipping policy? How many days does it take for them to process your order? Know this upfront especially if you need your item(s) quickly. Also, I would research their mail carrier choice and where the items will be shipped from. Sometimes, you need to buy from a seller closer to you geographically.
- Shopping outside the U.S.? This is a touchy question I think. I have bought from other countries, but I typically don't make it a habit. Not everything made outside America is made from the same materials and sometimes it's not made very well or durable. You might find items cheaper in price, but also cheaper in quality. I would say be careful and proceed with caution, again do your homework upfront before you purchase.
Now with those few tips, here's a quick list of where I shop online and why, I also put these links in categories:
- Joann.com. Of course for anything from fabrics to yarn and crochet/knitting supplies, I shop at Joann's. Also, I try to take advantage of the coupons and sales they have. I also purchase paper crafting supplies, inks and what not for greeting cards and for my bible art journaling. I believe it's a 2-day order processing, but I've not been disappointed with any my orders.
- Knitting Warehouse. I found this site as I was searching for yarns that I couldn't find easily and they were high up on the list. I researched them and even called and spoke to their sales reps, they offer craft supplies lower than most and offer brands that are sometimes discontinued. They offer a low flat rate shipping charge and I love shopping with them.
- Herrschners. Sometimes, if I can't find what I'm looking for at Joann's, I'll check Herrschners.
- Amazon. I put Amazon in this list, but really they go in every list because you can buy just about anything through Amazon. I do try to purchase items that are sold and fulfilled by Amazon. If I deal with a third party through Amazon, I always check their feedback rating, their physical location, and their reviews before I purchase.
Fashion: (I really don't buy a lot of clothing online but I do purchase accessories.)
- Payless Shoes. In my small town, the nearest Payless Shoes is 1-1/2 hours away so oftentimes I'm shopping from their website. I've bought about 12 pairs of shoes and only had to return 1 so that's pretty good! I do like that if I need to return an order I have the option of mailing it back or stopping into any of their stores to return the item. I typically get daily or weekly coupons so I wait to take advantage of those when I purchase.
- Shop Miss A. I just wrote a post about my first shopping experience with Shop Miss A. I really like the items I received and wore my anklet yesterday which is so pretty. I love that everything on their site is $1 with $3.95 flat rate shipping on U.S. orders no matter how many things you buy. I've only had the one shopping experience, but I do plan to purchase more from them.
- Vistaprint. I love these guys! I've been doing business with them since 1999. I remember when they first came on the scene, they only did business cards. Now, they do just about everything for a business including web design. I use them for business cards, flyers, note cards, posters, banners, you name it! Their shipping is fast and they have excellent customer service.
- Office Depot. They are the "big guns" in office supplies and so if I can't find something locally, I use their website. For example, if I need a large industrial cutting machine, I'll come here, because I know this size isn't at my local store and the nearest Wal-Marts are quite far away.
One last link I wanted to add is RetailMeNot. I search this site for coupon codes for various stores, I've used them to save money before and thought it was worth mentioning.
Do you shop online? What do you typically buy and where do you shop most? Tell me about it the comments below. I'd love to know!