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Shopping on the Internet

Shopping on the Internet is a great way to save time and money. Certainly, there is value to shopping local, however, when you need a reprieve from the hustle and bustle, crowds or activity, the internet can be a relaxing way to shop and a great way to compare prices and customer reviews.

There are an abundance of ecommerce sites on the web. Some of the more popular sites are Ebay, Etsy, and Amazon. In addition, major retailers such as Kohl’s, Target, Macy’s, and JCPenney have their own online presence, and will often offer different sales than their brick-and-mortar counterparts.

Ebay’s ‘Bid’ (in an auction) or ‘Buy It Now’ features offer shoppers some flexibility in purchasing both new and used, depending on their needs. The Buy It Now feature purchases the item as-is at a price set by the seller. The Bid feature places buyers in an auction where they may or may not be the highest bidder for that item.

Etsy is the “global marketplace for buying and selling unique, handmade, vintage, and creative goods”; a world of artsy items at your fingertips, available with the click of your mouse. Shopping Etsy may be the equivalent of going to boutiques or galleries around the world, without ever leaving the comfort of your home.

Amazon began as an online bookstore and grew into what they are today: A marketplace of vast inventory, from books to food and everything in between. Is there anything you can’t find on Amazon? There are some unavailable items but they are few and far between. All in all, Amazon is my first go-to for internet shopping and, according to some sources, it is the largest online shopping site in the USA.

The major retailers also have their own sites. Many of them will offer incentives for shopping online, like free shipping with minimum orders and better pricing on select items. From the retailer sites, you may also appreciate their ship-to-store options for free shipping without meeting the minimum order criteria.

As mentioned, a big advantage to shopping on the internet is the convenience of shopping from home, office, or wherever you choose. All you need is a smartphone, tablet, laptop or computer, and a solid network connection. In addition, having the ability to compare customer reviews before you buy is invaluable. There are many sites that review products and rate them based on specific criteria.

When I’m not sure if a product has all the features I want or need, I go to review sites. Review sites offer comprehensive reviews that provide detailed information as well as pros and cons of the product. Consumer Reports, Good Housekeeping, Consumer Research, EGadgets, and CNET are all great review websites. Researching the product you’re interested in can be a game-changer when it comes to buying. What you think is the best option may not be and visa-versa. Not having to go through the pains of finding that out on your own is very appealing!

Another perk of shopping on the internet is using cash-back programs. One website that offers cash-back incentives for shopping at different retailer sites is Ebates. Once you create an account, you simply shop by using a link on the website to visit the retailer site you wish to shop at. By doing so, you receive cash back after making a purchase. There are a few of these programs out on the web. Some preliminary research is the best way to find them.

Finally, I like to try and find free shipping options. Shipping can be costly, so it’s worth it to search for retailers that ship free-of-charge. A favorite is Amazon Prime. For $99 a year, the consumer gets two-day shipping, free of charge, with eligible purchases. As a bonus with Prime, consumers receive access to all of Amazon’s streaming TV shows and movies.

While we don’t want to take away from our local businesses, you can see that shopping the internet has its advantages; utilizing them is the key! While it can save you time not having to drive store to store, it’s worth the time spent to research prices, reviews, and shipping options before you buy. Of course, doing all that while sitting at a desk or on your couch is a plus!

Listen to Nate discuss this topic with Just The Facts show host John Foster on WOMT Radio.
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