I try to do as much shopping as I can online because nothing beats comparing a bunch of locations all at once to get the best price or taking advantage of a vendor’s pricematching policy. What’s also awesome about buying online is that you get to avoid the business of malls and parking and dealing with people who are grumpy or had a bad day. I’m going to give you eight reasons why I prefer to shop online – please feel free to add to the list in the comments below.
Reason 1: Better Prices
While not always true, I think in general you can find better prices online because online vendors have lower overhead costs. They don’t need to rent a physical store location, they don’t need to staff it with people, and they don’t need to support all the other overhead costs associated with a brick and mortar store. Online stores will have the same warehousing infrastructure, perhaps its larger, and distribution costs but not having stores can save them tremendously on overhead. As a result, you can generally find that prices are cheaper online.
Along with better prices, and you can consider this Reason 1A, is that you can comparison shop much much easier online. You can go with services like PriceGrabber or just hop from site to site. Compare this to running around different stores in the mall? Forget it.
Reason 2: Pricematching
Many online vendors offer price matching of some kind. With Amazon, if the price drops within 30 days then you can get a refund of the difference. I wrote about Amazon’s unwritten price drop policy a few years ago now and have used it at least fifty times since, especially with services like Price Protectr monitoring and emailing me.
Reason 3: No Sales Tax Collected
If you buy something online, the store is only required to collect sales tax if they have a physical location in your state. Amazon.com only collects sales tax in Kansas, Kentucky, North Dakota, and Washington (and New York thanks to the work of Eliot Spitzer) because they have warehouses in those states. However, you’re supposed to report your purchases and pay a “use tax” on your state’s income tax return the following April. (For those of you who don’t report the use tax, which is pretty much everyone I know, this means you can make purchases without sales tax)
Reason 4: It’s In Stock
Not everything you want will always be in stock but at least you’ll know before you order it. You could go to a store in the hopes of finding a DVD only to learn that none are in stock. Then you’ve wasted all that time getting to the store when you should’ve been able to know beforehand. Now, some vendors are a little shadier about stocking information (they want your order after all), but in general the bigger vendors are honest about what they have on hand and what they will need to acquire.
Reason 5: No Driving, Less Gas
Have you seen the mall lately? At most mall parking lots you could probably drive around for fifteen minutes before you found a parking spot and if you add that all up, that’s a lot of gas (and headache!) being burned up just to be able to walk around a store. So, by ordering online, you drive less and thus use less gas. Going back to Reason 4, how frustrated would you be if it took you 15 minutes to park only to find out the store was out of stock?
Reason 6: Historical Order Record
If I buy something in the store, I almost never keep the receipt. If I need to return something, they can generally track down the order in their system with my credit card. However, I won’t have a historical record of what I bought when. This may be crucial information when it comes to warranties and protections, so having someplace I can go to review my order history can be valuable in these boundary situations.
Reason 7: Special Offers and Coupons
When you purchase something online you usually create an account there. One of the side benefits of having an account at a retailer is that they may send you special offers or notify you of special online sales. Some see this as a double edged sword as their inbox is deluged with every last marketing communique, but I see it as an opportunity to be cheaply notified of a special offer that is targeted for me. If they saw I’ve been buying lots of sci-fi DVDs and they have a sale, I’d really appreciate an email letting me know.
Reason 8: More and Longer Online Sales
Stores generally have sales to move product and are limited in what is available for purchase. When an online vendor has a sale, you have the entire warehouse stock to deplete before they are “out of stock,” versus a single store location. This means that if some store is having a blow out sale on memory sticks, you know that it ends when either they’ve hit their quota or they’ve run out. You never run into a case of the local limit.
There are many many more reasons to shop online and I only hit on the first eight that came to mind, if you have a reason you shop online that I haven’t listed as one of mine, please do share it in the comments below!