We’ve put together this guide to understanding when a little effort is necessary to save you time and money, and when it’s beneficial to stick to your computer.
- You don’t have to commute, find parking, deal with big crowds or wait in long lines. In addition, you won’t waste any gas. The gas factor might feel particularly appealing right now due to skyrocketing fuel prices.
- You can ship gifts directly to your faraway friends or family, with many websites offering gift receipts and holiday wrapping. Many people prefer this over purchasing a gift at the store, taking a trip to the post office and spending top dollar to ship it from there.
- Something you can always count on in the online community is a diverse mass of very opinionated people and self-proclaimed experts. This can certainly feel unnecessary, but I always welcome it when in the market to buy something online. Search any product and you’re guaranteed to find thousands of reviews from past customers describing their experience with the company, shipping process and the product itself.
- Online shoppers spend time typing their information and spend money to have their purchases shipped to their home in a timely fashion. However, they will eventually run into shipping issues during their Internet-shopping career, including: weather delays, technical mishaps, address confusion and lost packages. Consider the deadline you need your product by before ordering it online. Also consider how reputable the company you’re ordering from is, and how often they have these mishaps occur with their shipping services.
- Everything is available online now, but some things just do not make sense to purchase on the web. For example, if you’re in the market for new perfume or cologne, it makes a lot more sense to go to the store and smell the different options before purchasing your new scent. When purchasing a product online, try to decipher if the convenience is getting in the way of common sense.
- When purchasing new clothing – especially from a new brand – it’s crucial to try things on. Everybody is different; some brands might not suit you, some may be sized differently than you’re used to and some might be made of materials you aren’t familiar with or don’t prefer. Shopping in-store will ensure you don’t end up with an unwanted itchy sweater.
- Occasionally, it’s nice to have a tangible explanation for what a product is like, e.g. holding the box, the manual or the item itself. If you’re not someone who reads “35.5 x 16.0 x 38.5” and can accurately imagine how your new lawnmower will look, this tip is for you.
- Chances are that in your lifetime you will receive or buy a thing or two you wish to return. Most stores are very clear and uniform with their return policies. It usually goes something like this: take your receipt and item(s) back to the store and receive full cash (or store credit) back. Online, returning items can be a long and drawn out process. They might only accept certain items to be returned, they might only refund you a portion of what you paid and many times they make you pay the expenses to ship the item back to them! Before shopping online, read the return policy of the site you’re browsing. If it doesn’t seem reasonable, go to the store!
- Depending on your schedule, a store’s hours might prove to be very inconvenient. Some stores open late morning and close before the average person gets home from work. Luckily, the Internet never opens or closes.
- There are distance restrictions. Most people would stray away from the prospect of driving out of their city (let alone their state or country) to shop for a new pair of shoes. Essentially, you’re stuck with what’s provided in your area. If you’re someone who likes to be unique, or is especially picky, you might have better luck online than at your local department store.
Have you had an online shopping nightmare, or do you swear that it’s the best shopping method? Leave a comment and tell us about your experiences and any additional insight!
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