Are you an online shopper, an in-store shopper or a little bit of both?
There are many reasons to shop online, especially now that so many stores have free shipping and returns. But, there are still a few disadvantages to online shopping.
Read more: Are the deals better in stores or online?
Though the benefits of online shopping include convenience, time saved driving to and from the store, no crowds, no aggressive sales people, no waiting in line to check out, the ability to search millions of products at the click of a button, the freedom to shop in your pajamas (should you wish to do so) and avoiding taxes (in some cases), in some cases, it makes more financial sense to shop in-store.
For some items, online shopping works extremely well. For example, if there is a certain kind of pen you know you like and the best price is online, including shipping, this makes shopping online a no-brainer. For other items, such as items that are more expensive online, items that require a near-perfect fit such as clothes and items that really need to be seen and used before purchase, online shopping may not be your best bet.
Here are some instances when it either saves you time or money to shop in-store versus online.
5 cases when it’s better to shop in-store versus online
1. When there is a shipping fee.
Most stores nowadays, if they’re smart, have done away with shipping costs for purchases and returns — at least at a certain shipping threshold.
But not all online stores. In these cases, it’s better to find a store with the same item you want for less shipping, or just go to a brick-and-mortar store to purchase it, as long as the store isn’t too far away.
2. When it may be cheaper at the store versus online.
Who’s to say an item is cheaper online than it is in the store? Though online price matching is a good way to ensure you’re getting the best deal, it isn’t fireproof.
If you’re buying a large item, it might benefit you to do a little in-store shopping to do some price comparisons. Who knows, you could end up finding the item you want much cheaper in the store!
3. When you need to ensure the right fit.
Some clothing, such as dresses or shoes, can’t rely on a tape measure to truly know how they’ll look and feel. Though some clothing items such as t-shirts may be just fine to buy online, other items may be better to purchase in-store so you’ll be able to try the item on to know for sure.
If it’s a brand you wear regularly and you know how it fits, then buying it online may work fine for you. Just make sure you shop around some to ensure you’re getting the best price!
4. When the online forums tell you returns are a hassle.
I don’t know about you, but sometimes when I research an item I’m buying, I also like to know a little about the company I’m buying it from. Recently I researched a company and discovered that although it was advertising on a well-known website, it was operating a fraudulent business!
Forums are a very helpful tool to help you stay informed about a company, especially if the company operates 100% online. In these cases, if returns appear to be a hassle from research, steer clear. It may be best to shop the company in-person, or avoid it altogether.
The people writing reviews in these forums will often point you in the direction of a more reliable online shopping source.
5. When you really need to try out the item before buying.
For some items, such as specific electronics or sporting equipment, it really is best to shop in-person. A golfer needs to know exactly how the club will feel in his or her hand, and you’ll probably want to at least try using that new phone you intend to purchase — again, unless you’re already very familiar with the brand or particular item you plan to purchase online.
Here are some tips for when you’re shopping in a traditional brick-and-mortar store.
In-person shopping tips:
- Thoroughly research the item online before you go to the store — many retailers will match online prices.
- Ask salespeople questions, but avoid being “up-sold” — unless it really makes sense.
- Make a list and stick to it — avoid impulse buying.
- Use your smartphone while shopping in-store to price check or look up reviews of the items you intend to buy.
- If you don’t have a smartphone, you could look up the items you’re thinking of buying after you’ve seen them in-person and then go back to the store to purchase.
Though online shopping has significantly raised the convenience factor when it comes to shopping in general, some items are better purchased at a store than over the Internet to get the very best deal.
Read more: Free apps to help you find the best price