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The Informed Shopper

Shopping and Saving Online

Shopping online

It’s no secret that shopping online is incredibly convenient. Instead of dealing with mall traffic and the crowds inside, you can quickly find your favorite stores online, pick the item you want with little worry of it being sold out and easily pay with your credit card.

There are also great bargains to be found on the web, with many retailers providing attractive deals and discounts for purchases made online.

Even better, more and more stores are offering free shipping for online purchases, usually when you meet a set minimum order total. If you don’t mind waiting, the item that grabbed your eye can be yours for a great price and at your doorstep in just a few days.

Shopping Online Safely

When you shop online, you will send your personal information to the online store. You’ll be asked for your name and address, your telephone number and, your method of payment to complete the purchase.

That’s a lot of very important information you’re sending online, and you have every right to make sure your info is secure and will never be used by anyone but the store you’re doing business with. Here are seven simple steps that will help make your next online shopping trip a safer and more secure experience:

  • Shop at secure online stores only. An easy way to tell if your online store is secure is to look at the website’s address. If it has https in its website address, the store is secure.
  • Research the site before you order.
  • Read the site’s online privacy and security policies.
  • Make your purchase with a credit card. If something goes wrong, you are protected under the federal Fair Credit Billing Act.
  • Never make your purchase on a public computer or on a machine in an Internet café.
  • Never provide your Social Security Number (SSN).
  • Always print copies or save screenshots of your online purchase.

For more tips on shopping safely online, go to this special page created by Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, a nonprofit consumer rights organization.

The site wikiHow also has an excellent list of safety tips here.

Online Shopping Sites

Without endorsing any particular site over another, we’d like to point you toward a few of the more popular shopping and bargain sites people are using to shop and save online. Each of them has established an exemplary reputation for online service and for providing their customers a safe and secure shopping experience.

The biggest online retailer in the U.S., Amazon has just about everything you’d want to buy readily available. It was once strictly an online book seller, but now you can now get DVDs, computer equipment, TVs, clothing and a lot more. Find out more here.

The largest online auction site on the Internet where you can buy or sell just about anything you can imagine. Ebay is an excellent place to hunt down those hard-to-find items (like, say, the poster for that Replacements show you caught in Detroit years ago). It’s also a great place to sell some of the stuff taking up room in your home. What’s your bid on a tennis ball canister autographed by Chris Evert? Catch the online auction action here.

Etsy features original handmade, craft and vintage items made by artists, craftspeople, and other creative types. The incredible popularity of this site can be attributed to the fact many of the items on sale are one of a kind. Check them out.

Sometimes the shipping costs of goods you bought online are more expensive than the actual item itself. Freeshipping keeps track of any free shipping deals at close to 4,000 stores. Go to to find out more.

NexTag specializes in finding deals on the web and comparing online prices. From dishware to MP3 players to flights and hotels, NexTag is keeping an eye on all of it. Find out more about NexTag.

Overstock sells discounted goods of every type from retailers looking to offload excess inventory, a lot of it brand name merchandise. You’ll find bargains on a wide and diverse selection of merchandise, including clothing, jewelry, electronics and toys. See what’s happening at Overstock.

Do all your grocery shopping online and have your goods shipped right to your door with Peapod. You can even set a delivery schedule that’s convenient for you – whether it’s tomorrow, the weekend or two weeks from now. Peapod is only available in select cities, though. To find out more about Peapod, go here

PriceGrabber is an online comparison site that lets users search for and compare prices on millions of different items and services bundled into 25 separate categories, such as books, clothing, computers, sporting goods and more. Find out more.

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