A Quick Word about Online Shopping

quick-word-online-shopping

I have a love-hate relationship with online shopping. It’s great in the fact that I don’t have to drive anywhere and go into crowded stores to do my shopping. However, is online shopping really that great? Read on to discover some of my tips for online shopping, as well as the pros and cons of shopping on the internet. Since it is December, I will be putting an emphasis on holiday shopping, but these tips will mostly work anytime.

Why Online Shopping?

Since I have mostly lived my life in the age of technology and the internet, I do not know much of the history of online shops. What I do know is that there are a myriad of stores out there where you can purchase anything and have it shipped to your door for free. For many people, myself included, this is very handy. I personally do not like driving and would rather spend my time playing with my cat rather than socializing with customer support at the store. For many people, online shopping could be easier, as they might not be mobile enough to leave the house, or their house is very far away from stores.

What’s the bad?

Spending Money

I’ll start with the bad about online shopping. It’s been proven that people spend less money if they have to actually hand over cash and watch it go away, rather than just swiping, or entering, their credit card number. This happens in physical stores as well, but it takes a whole other meaning when it comes to online shopping. With all the technology on computers and phones nowadays, it’s easier than ever to just order something with ‘one click’. It is likely that you have your card numbers stored online at a store like Amazon or American Eagle, so you don’t have to enter them all the time. This prevents a block from spending money. Instead of even having to take your card out of your wallet, all you have to do is press the ‘check out’ button.

Environmental Impact

Unfortunately, I do not know many statistics for this next element, but online shopping is bad for the environment. Think about the last time you ordered something online. It’s likely that it came in either a cardboard box filled with plastic bags of air or a plastic bag. The boxes and bags take energy and resources to produce, and, if not disposed of properly, can do so much more harm to the environment. (I am going to take this opportunity to ask you to please recycle. Learn the proper things that can be recycled and teach your friends and neighbors). 

Aside from the packing materials, there is also the shipping. With online shopping, items can be made all over the world and sent overseas to the consumer. How are they sent? By plane? What about by boat? Or by a truck? All those ways of transportation use up energy and resources. I’m not saying that driving to the store and buying something that was shipped to the store, in the same manner, doesn’t use energy, it’s just something to think about.

Shopping Carts

Shopping carts. Have you ever put something in an online shopping cart and forgotten about it, only to be emailed by the retailer several days later with a coupon for that item? Did you buy it after getting the coupon? This is one trick marketers use to get you to go back to their site. They are hoping that when you are there, you will remember something else you wanted to get and add that to your cart as well. The thing with online shopping is that you don’t really see how much stuff is piling up in your cart, unlike in stores, when you can see the dimensions of the product and feel its’ weight.

The Pros

Location

As I mentioned before, there are some people who either don’t like driving or are unable to leave the house. Online shopping is very easy because all you need is an internet connected device. Also, if you are in the middle of nowhere, the likelihood that the package will be delivered to you is pretty high.

Ease of Use

There’s no denying that online shopping is easy to use. You can even go shopping for your Christmas gifts while watching the rain fall outside wrapped in your heated blanket! How cool is that! Pun intended. Along with this, everything is in one spot. No need to go to multiple different stores to find everything on your wish list. Most of the time, you can even find everything on one site, like Amazon.

Comfort

Especially around the holidays, stores can be packed with people. I’m not talking about black Friday packed (that’s a whole other level of crowded), but about people and shopping carts so thick that you can’t move around them. An example of this is Costco the day before Christmas. I have not personally been to Costco the day before Christmas, but I have been the day before 4th of July, as well as before a few other less festive holidays. It is not fun. The lines are long, there are people everywhere, and that’s just if you get to the checkout. Sometimes there are so many people that you can’t work your way through the store. A much nicer version is shopping with your cat on your lap, don’t you think?

Tips and Tricks for Online Shopping

We all know how easy it is to buy stuff online, and then open the package a few days later to find multiple things you don’t need. This is why I like using Amazon’s wish list. I put the things I want on there, even from other websites, and I peruse it often (more than I’d like to admit, actually), and most often take a few things off.

The Cost-to-Wait Rule

I heard a tip from one of my friends that if you want to buy something, take the dollar amount divided by 10 (so, 32 dollars would be 3) and wait that many days before you purchase it. This works in stores as well as online. If you still want to purchase it after those 3 days, there’s a good chance it wasn’t just an impulse buy and a better chance that you won’t regret it later. Another thing I like to do with my wish list is to write down why I want the items. Even if it’s shampoo, I’ll write why I like the shampoo. It is just one extra step to prevent impulse buys.

Cash Back

A fairly recent website that I discovered is called Ebates. Now that I know this exists, I can recall all the times I’ve heard people on other blogs and in YouTube videos raving about this website. I don’t know if I would go that far, but it’s not bad. Online shopping rates tend to skyrocket during the holidays, and for an understandable reason. If you use this link you get a free $10 with sign-up. This is an affiliate link, meaning I will get a bonus at no extra cost to you. If you would rather not do that, you can google the website – I promise I won’t be upset.

Funding your Online Shopping

This really works with any shopping, or just if you want to make a little extra money. I have been on this earth collecting material items for almost 20 years. And it piles up! I recently sold some technology that I wasn’t using on Ebay, and traded-in some other stuff on Amazon’s trade-in program. If you are under the age of 18, ask your parents for help. Even if you are over the age of 18, I would still ask for help. Selling online can be quite complicated – there are so many steps! For example, on Ebay, you need a PayPal account to get paid. And you need to figure out shipping for your item. And sometimes there’s a fee for listing your item for sale! Always better safe than sorry.

Cheers,

Fiona

What are your favorite ways to shop? Do you prefer online or in store? Leave a comment down below.

 

10 thoughts on “A Quick Word about Online Shopping

  1. Candi says:

    Your thoughts about online shopping were thorough and interesting. I have always wanted to take advantage of online shopping but haven’t gotten in the habit of doing so. I do enjoy shopping in the stores. Something about touching the fabric. Looking at the sparkling things and seeing the actual size of an item.

  2. Barb E. says:

    Thanks for some good insights I hadn’t thought of before. I like the cost-to-wait idea and also writing down why you want to buy the item(s).

  3. Heidi Sewall says:

    Hi. As I said in an earlier post, I like the cost-to-wait idea. However, I think I need to buy a new computer (or just a new monitor–not sure yet which) and the current sales prices divided by 10 means I will need to wait for 47 days. Hm. There goes my discount price. I wonder if there is a price point at which you then wait hours instead of days. For instance, $100 divided by 10 means 10 days. Ten days seems a bit long for $100 (depending on how much money is being earned, of course) but 10 hours seems too short. Any suggestions? I don’t think I can wait 47 days to make this decision. I can certainly wait 47 hours, but I may lose the discount. Hm. I think I will see if there is another solution to my problem that costs much less time (47 days) and much less money ($470). Thanks!

    • Fiona Kelley says:

      Hmm. I’d say on bigger ticket purchases, you have to use your own judgement. Also, I know how it feels to lose the discount. I’d say write everything down on paper beforehand and try to chart it out. What are you planning to do with your old computer? Are you going to sell it, at least for parts, so you can make up some of that cost? Is there any specific criteria that can be met with something cheaper? Of course researching these things comes at a cost of time, so you also have to decide how valuable your time is in a situation like this. If you do want to go down that road but don’t want to spend as much time researching it, you could try paying someone a small commission to do the research for you.

  4. Heidi Sewall says:

    I really like the cost-to-wait rule. What a splendid and easy idea! I know I’ve used the 3-day rule, which is what we have in Washington State whenever you make an offer on a house. One time I made an offer to buy and house and then realized it wasn’t the best choice for me. The 3-day Right of Rescission really saved me. (I just googled this law and it is a federal law–not just a state law–under the Truth in Lending Act.) I have often applied the 3-day rule to other purchases, but I like the idea of waiting a time limit based on the amount of money being spent. Thanks for the idea!

  5. I thought of a novel relating to these issues that you might find interesting. “Feed (2002) is a young adult dystopian novel of the cyberpunk subgenre written by M. T. Anderson. The novel focuses on issues such as corporate power, consumerism, information technology, data mining, and environmental decay, with a sometimes sardonic, sometimes somber tone.”

  6. Oh, I thought of something else about on-line shopping. Does it make you nervous when, after you browse at Amazon or just more broadly on the internet, for an item, like, let’s say: riding pants. Then, monents later, you pop onto Facebook and what turns up in the advertising column? Ads for riding pants. Ugh.

    • Fiona Kelley says:

      That doesn’t make me nervous. It’s just the generation I’ve grown up in. I know that the Internet knows more about me than I do. It doesn’t really bother me.

      • Interesting. However, I know people in your generation who ARE bothered, and some in my generation who are not. So, it may be a more complicated individual thing. IMHO.
        And I wouldn’t say it makes me “nervous”. I just think it gives me pause about issues of privacy.

  7. I would enjoy knowing more about socially conscious shopping, which you touch on a little bit here when you talk about shipping materials and recycling. This year I am buying books (my favorite gift to give) only through our local bookstore. They need the support. Also I am trying to be more mindful about what policies I am supporting when I buy. Amazon is amazingly convenient, but maybe it is almost too easy to shop there? (I do. I can comparison shop, for instance, when I buy turmeric in bulk for the horse boys.) And, one comment: if you live in the middle of nowhere, it is not always a given that you will get delivery. Maybe when they have delivery by drones!

Let me know what you think!