Saturday, July 9, 2011

5 best online shopping websites - where you can get pretty much everything

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I was reading about how businesses would try to lure you into their stores simply because there is a good chance that you'll spend some money once you step in. However, once you are in, they'll try means and ways to keep you in. Apparently, there are studies to show that the longer you stay in a shop, the more you'll tend to buy; it's always wise to go shopping with a list instead of only deciding what to get when you are in the shop.

That's why I am a strong advocate of online shopping. I come to realise that after some time, I only frequent five online shopping sites, which pretty cover everything that I would need, well most of it anyway.

1. Boots

Other than toiletries, I am now dangerously dependent on Boots for the daily needs of my little one - nappies, baby wipes and a variety of baby care products. They even have an entire range of toys to boot.

To get the best deal at Boots, there are two things that you'll need to do. First, go get a Boots Advantage card either at any Boots store or online. Every pound that you spend with Boots will get you at least one point, which you can then redeem for a penny off your next purchase. For baby products, you're looking at four points per pound. Shopping online will sometimes get you as much as eight points per pound - that's a whopping 8% discount!

If you have a little one coming along, go enroll in Boots Parenting Club (in-store or online). That'll get you not only a nifty welcome pack that include a diaper bag, changing mat among other practical items but also regular reminders of what your baby will need at certain milestones. To sweeten the deal, you'll get more points when shopping online if you are in the Boots Parenting Club.

2. Amazon

If anything, Amazon generally offers the best deal possible. Not only is the online store well stocked, you can get the items cheaper if you don't mind buying second-hand. However, take care that the second-hand prices plus the delivery charge wouldn't exceed Amazon's prices (which usually come with free shipping).

While Amazon does have an in-house discount card, it does tie up with Bank of America and issues a credit card. When making your purchases on Amazon using this card, you'll get a point (equivalent to a penny) for every pound spent; using the credit card elsewhere will get you a point for every two pounds spent. Downside is that you'd only be able to redeem the points after a year.

One drawback of shopping on Amazon is that because they source their goods all over, the arrival time could vary. As such, it would be prudent to order way in advance so that you'll get your purchases in time.

3. John Lewis

John Lewis remains a personal favourite for furniture and electronic items because of their reasonable prices and no frills returns policy. If you are ever in doubt when surfing their online store, just give their helpline a call. John Lewis' helpline is by far the most professional one that I have come across.

Few people know this but if you are expecting a baby, you can call up the Nursery department of John Lewis and set up a complimentary appointment for gift list. Essentially, you will get a dedicated staff who will bring you round the Nursery department and checking off the items that you would be needing for your little one. At the end of it, the list will be uploaded online (protected by a password) and it would serve as a gift registry. At the very least, you'll have a list to start with. Perfect for clueless first time parents.

4. Argos

Argos remains the forerunner for catalogue shopping. Seriously, I have no idea what's the fascination behind going into the store and flipping through a heavy tomb of laminated catalogue. You then need to pay for the items selected before finally queuing up to collect your purchases.

I would very much prefer to shop at Argos online store where all items' dimensions and availability can be found. If the item's out of stock, you'd even be told where is the nearest store that has it for immediate collection.

One thing to note though, while most items are sold at a lower price at Argos, some aren't. So it would worth your while to do some snooping around at other sites before reaching for your credit card.

5. MyTrainTicket

I've discovered MyTrainTicket only quite recently during a trip to Aldeburgh. I figured that I shaved off at least 50% off my train fare by purchasing the tickets at MyTrainTicket. What I like about the site is its clean design and the fact that you can get tickets from all available train lines unlike some proprietary sites. Before getting your ticket, I would recommend that you check out the MyTrainTicket's tips on how to get cheap train fares.

Are you a frequent online shopper? If so, what are some of your favourite sites and why so?

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