I do a lot of online shopping. Like, a lot. It probably isn’t healthy that my first instinct is to buy something online rather than try to schedule a trip to a store. I got in the habit when I was working such long hours at the law firm that — aside from local lunch-hour trips — it was just easier to buy everything online since I wasn’t available when most stores were open. I’ve kept the habit now that I have small kids, particularly for baby items — we once ran around to six different baby stores looking for a nursing thing we needed when Jack was first born, and later found it was available on Amazon (with the one-day shipping option, too). SO: I shop a lot, online. But it’s interesting to me that almost all of my shopping is done from only a few retailers:
- Amazon: We pay for Prime Membership — and my preferred credit card is my Amazon Visa, which nets me triple points at Amazon — so it’s hard to beat. Free two-day shipping, a 30-day return policy (with
freeeasy returns), a wide selection, and Subscribe & Save discounts for many household things (that sometimes beat even Costco prices).
- Nordstrom: TBH, a few years ago I barely shopped at Nordstrom. I hate the way the physical stores are laid out, I disliked the products that seemed to be in my price range, and more. I started taking notice when Corporette readers went nuts for the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale and the Half-Yearly Sale, with lots of eager talk of points, customer service, and more — that I started looking into it. Nowadays it feels like Nordstrom is the department store to beat, online: Their website is easy to use and has a great “recommendation” engine, as well as filters that actually work; fast free shipping (although I wish they didn’t waste so much packaging, but hey), free returns that get credited back pretty quickly, a wide selection of products, a price matching policy, and a very generous return policy. I like that if you spend enough using your Nordstrom Card you get gift certificates back to you (Nordstrom Notes) that are basically like cash back.
- Zappos: Fast, free shipping; a great return policy, and a price matching policy. Sign me up.
- 6pm: This is the only store that doesn’t offer free returns that’s in my regular mix — but sometimes the deals are too good to pass up. (This is Zappos’s sister site, if you didn’t know — non-current merchandise goes to 6pm to be discounted. Prices change daily based on one of those complicated online algorithms, so if you see a product you like at a price you like you may want to pull the trigger then and there.) Lately it seems like a lot of their stuff is on Amazon for a similar price (it isn’t an exact overlap in terms of selection, but many times it is), often eligible for Prime, so these days I usually check Amazon to see if there’s a comparable product.
- Gap / Old Navy / BR: I often buy stuff for my children at Old Navy and Gap, and with the combined shopping cart and free shipping with $50+ it’s easy to add a few things for my husband and myself as well. The frequency of the sales never hurts, either.
- Ann Taylor: I usually stock up during their “60% off the sale” sales (which I also try to post about here if there’s good stuff).
Every so often I’ll buy something at Sephora if I’m on the hunt for something (love that return policy!), or the crazy Dillard’s New Year’s sale, or even (gasp) very occasionally at an actual brand store, like a recent purchase I made at Clinique.com. On the flip side, some retailers I avoid like the plague — one department store who annoyingly keeps emptying my cart when I get to checkout, another department store that used to have decent deals in person in the store but lately seems to only have cheap yuck at high prices online (plus a high minimum to get free shipping)… With some of the big-box stores like Target and Kohl’s I just hate the online experience. A few things make me deviate from my favorite few retailers:
- A much better deal that can’t/won’t be price matched. Duh. The price of shipping and the speed of shipping are all things that I factor in to the purchasing decision, though — as well as the return policy.
- Buying several items from one brand. For example, I knew I wanted a bunch of Clinique products recently, and I didn’t care about a return policy because I’d had all of the products before. I went on the hunt for a “gift with purchase” deal from a major department store, and eventually found that Clinique offered one of the best deals — free shipping with $50 (which I planned to spend anyway), and the deal at the time was 5 minis/samples of other products, which I liked.
- A product that can’t be found elsewhere. Sometimes it seems like almost everything can be found at my preferred retailers — but sometimes it can’t. I recently bought a great All Saints summer dress from (gasp) All Saints; I recently bought a bunch of stuff online at Anthropologie (and returned a lot of it) because they had a good sale and a selection of stuff I couldn’t easily find elsewhere.
- A local store to which I plan to return items. I usually find it’s easier to box up what I don’t want and send it back via the post office — and all of my preferred retailers (but for 6pm) offer free return shipping, so that’s usually not an issue. But very occasionally it’s just easier to run into a local store, run to the closest counter, and return things.
- A previous online shopping experience. If I already have an account set up, and had an OK shopping experience the first time, then I’m more inclined to pull the trigger on a purchase (assuming the other things are met). Last Call, Neiman Marcus, J.Crew, The Outnet — none are in my regular wheelhouse but if I see a good deal I’m pretty quick to purchase because it’s jut a few clicks.
I’m curious, ladies — which are your favorite stores for internet shopping? How much of your life is purchased online? What factors make you deviate from your preferred retailers? Are there some stores where you absolutely prefer the in-store shopping experience (for reasons other than the obvious: being able to try a bunch of stuff on before purchasing it)?
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