Online Shopping Sites Put to the Test
ShopSmart magazine, a Consumer Reports publication, recently put some of the biggest names in online retail to the test to determine which offers up the best bargains and deals. Customers need to consider shipping fees and investigate the return policies, which are very different from offline retailers. These steps will help reduce purchase anxiety or disappointment, as well as cut back on online impulse buying.
To truly test the online retail giants, ShopSmart purchased seven common items ranging in price. They compared the actual price, shipping fees and return polices to determine the easiest and cheapest sellers. When using eBay, testers only purchased items through “Buy It Now” and only from U.S. sellers.
With competitive shipping rates and professional sellers, eBay.com came in as the lowest priced winner. Look for Buy It Now prices well below retail costs and add in shipping to determine the real total. Many sellers accept returns while others don’t, so check each listing individually.
Amazon.com, once a bookstore that has grown to offer almost anything, came in second in the test. The Amazon Marketplace allows individuals to sell items much like on eBay, but with stricter shipping and return rules. Amazon Merchants are full scale retailers offering bargain prices. Some categories, like groceries and other food items, are unreasonably high, but books, electronics and specialty items are lower.
Walmart, Overstock.com and Target came in 3rd, 4th and 5th on the list. Walmart has a larger selection and consistent pricing, but offers free shipping to local stores along with Target. Target excels at stylish but low cost wood furniture and clothing deals. Overstock.com sells items from overstocked lots of last year’s baby gear, clothing and home décor. If you’re looking for a good deal on this year’s styles, try somewhere else.