I'm a highly dedicated shopper, often searching high and low for the perfect pair of shoes, the just-right gift for a family member, or any number of other products. But you won't catch me schlepping bags from store to store or fighting the crowds at the mall. I do almost all of my shopping online - and so should you. Why? Here are four great reasons to start shopping online.
Time is Money
I have a full-time career and a family to raise. My parents and in-laws all live out of town. So it's rarely practical for me to take several hours to go shopping for ANYTHING. And usually if I do, I have several children tagging along. Have you ever tried to accomplish something with young children in tow? Multiply the time you'd normally spend on that task by three, and you're coming close.
But shopping online is something I can fit into my schedule. It takes much less time to go from website to website, than it does to go from store to store, in search of the product that fulfills my shopping quest. I can wait until my kids are in bed before shopping, and I can do it while watching TV or while something cooks in the oven.
Plus, search engines and product comparison tools are not something you'll find at the mall. I start my shopping in the search engines, particularly those that let you limit results to products. Then after finding the right product, I recommend using a comparison shopping engine to find the best price from a well-rated merchant. I can usually do all of this in much less time than it would take me to shop for the item locally, even without any in-person price comparisons.
Gas isn't Eco-Friendly
Everyone is talking about "going green" these days. After years of smog, global warming, carcinogens, and other icky things, we're finally starting to pay attention to Mother Earth. But unless you live within walking or biking distance of a shopping center, you have to figure in the impact of the drive.
Gas is expensive, and fuel emissions are bad for the environment. That's what I call a lose-lose scenario! Shopping online doesn't use any gas. It doesn't produce the same level of pollutants that driving does, and you don't ever need to refuel your computer.
I live fifteen minutes away from the nearest mall by car, and the nearest city with any extensive shopping is an hour away. When I factor in the time wasted and the money spent on fuel, the average cost of my purchases increases to an unreasonable amount. Compare your online and offline purchases, factoring in costs like gas and parking, and see if you might save money by shopping online.
I'm No Deliveryman
The ability to ship products directly to my house is wonderful. As long as I'm not in a big hurry to buy the item in question, I can usually arrange for shipping that costs less than I'd spend in time and gas by buying the same item in person.
However, this factor really starts to pay off around the holidays. With family spread across the country, and lines at the post office winding out through the front door, shipping packages myself makes me want to chew off my fingernails and pull out my hair! But it's easy, with online shopping, to have the package shipped directly to my recipient. And since many stores offer gift wrapping and messaging, that hassle is taken care of as well. I feel almost pampered when I can "hire" someone to do this work for me!
There's Not Enough Stuff Locally
The biggest advantage I've found to shopping online, however, is the selection. The declining economy has hit my local area hard, and businesses are closing their doors all over town. It's becoming harder and harder to find the item I'm looking for. For example, when my daughter started soccer this spring, we needed to buy cleats - but there wasn't a single store in the county that carried youth soccer cleats! But guess what each store suggested? "We don't have them in the store, but you can buy them on our website."
It also doesn't help that I have a small habit of shopping designer labels. Those are not easy to find in a smallish town like mine. But fashion and apparel run rampant on the web. From invitation-online websites to massive apparel superstores, I can find just about anything I want, usually in stock and in my size.
If you haven't braved the Internet shopping scene yet, I highly recommend it. Even die-hard social shoppers often need something with little hassle. It might not replace a day with your girlfriends at the mall, but it definitely has benefits.