Adventures in Home Shopping: Five Tips for Online Shopping Success

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Shopping from home—these days, most everyone has at least dabbled. But the fact is, there are some basic rules you should follow to maximize your shopping-from-home experience. Here’s the breakdown:

1. Know what you want. It’s easy to get overwhelmed in a department store, so shopping online with an endless supply of stores to visit? Same problem, times 100. Make a list of what you’re looking for and stick to it—don’t get click happy.

2. Compare prices. One of the benefits of shopping online is you can easily compare prices (especially with sites like, so take advantage. The one thing better than finding exactly what you want is finding what you want for the very best price.

3. Keep security in mind. I only shop at sites I trust—Old Navy, Target,—big enough to have proper security measures in place. That quirky little retailer in Timbuktu might have a great price, but do you really trust them with protecting your credit info?

4. Don’t forget shipping. Sometimes a great deal isn’t so great once you figure in shipping. Watch for flat rates, free shipping offers, and go for regular ground shipping for the cheapest rate whenever possible.

5. Check return policies. Since you know there’s a chance it won’t fit or look quite like you thought once it arrives, be sure that the company has a return policy you can live with. Some offer free return shipping and/or include pre-printed return labels, but others aren’t quite as accommodating. It’s worth a few minutes of clicking around and reading the fine print to save yourself a whole lot of grief later on.

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  • torcor

    Regarding the advice to only buy from larger websites with defined security measures: if you do fall in love with an item on a smaller website that you’re not sure about giving your credit card number to, see if they accept PayPal, a safe, third party vendor. Your credit card company’s website might also be able to provide a one time use credit card number for online shopping that’s linked to your real credit card number. Hope this helps.

  • bellesouth

    Particularly in the past month, I have found that shopping online for products I don’t need to try on is better than heading to the store. Less hassle, more products available, online-only offers, etc.

    For example, a couple of weeks ago my local Sephora was completely out of Urban Decay Eyeshadow Primer Potion. They told me it’d be restocked the next day, but instead I found a deal from that let me get two bottles for about five bucks cheaper!!! (They gave me better samples, too.)

  • Anonymous

    You’re right—PayPal is a great payment option, but as with all online payment methods, you need to be on guard. There are plenty of scams out there that will e-mail you, looking very official, telling you that your PayPal account has been subject to fraud, ask for account info, etc. Still, I’ve had great luck with PayPal itself. Good tip!