I am most definitely not a candidate for the title of ‘shop-aholic.’ I am kind of representative of the classic male stereotype of being a reluctant shopper. I hate lines, crowded aisles, and arrogant, consumer-driven people of all kinds. I dread Christmas shopping, and go with gift certificates for gifts whenever I think I can get away with it. Thank goodness, that I am a reluctant male shopper of the 21st century, and I have consequently found the answer to my shopping phobia – online shopping.
Never Leave Your PJs
By far the biggest advantage for a guy like me is the fact that I can shop without ever having to leave the house. I am a big dude and I can’t stand trying to squish in everywhere and getting dirty looks when I unintentionally bump into people. Any time I can get up, enjoy breakfast in my ‘Saturday best,’ and finish my shopping with a few clicks of the mouse, that is a major win.
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Online Shopping Cuts Out Some Retail CostsI honestly believe that buying products online is only just beginning to realize its potential. I have read many articles where people talk about how it is the next stage of selling in terms of keeping costs low by cutting out all of the retail expenses.
Think of all the positions and distribution costs that could be cut if product was simply warehoused in huge basic structures with easy-to-maintain records of shipping. It is a bargain hunter’s and a capitalist’s dream. This is the future of shopping for people that want to stretch their dollar a little more and the companies that want to cater to that clientele.
Comparison Shopping and Easy Couponing
Two other easy ways to save money when shopping online are to comparison shop and do a quick search for a promotional code before buying a product that you want.
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With traditional shopping you have to burn 50 dollars in gas and a whole day’s worth of time driving around or looking at fliers in order to see what the competition has. Online you simply open another 6 tabs and you can scan back and forth across the product selections you want. I have never had the mental energy to save coupons and apply them properly. It is part laziness and partly the knowledge that I think I could make money more efficiently in other endeavours than by using the time to search through coupons for products I don’t even want.
Promotional codes are more my style. A person just has to do a quick Google search for current promotional codes of the company they are buying from and the search engine will spit out a bunch of sites put together by people with way too much time on their hands. These sites will give you a bunch of easy to copy-and-past codes that will usually give you 5%+ off just for taking 30 seconds to use a search engine. I then pay with my cash-back credit card to get another 2% off! That’s a lazy man’s way to be frugal.
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The older and more experienced I get the more I realize the reality of the cliché, “Time is money.” The idea of ‘opportunity cost’ is that you could always be doing something else instead of what you’re doing in order to further yourself. That becomes part of the cost built into doing something; therefore, shopping for me carries a huge opportunity cost (which is a fancy way of saying that it is a complete waste of time).
No lines, no crazy parking lots, no narrow aisles, not lost products, no weird extreme-hoarder person in front of you with 77 expired coupons that, “Wants to see the manager!” Instead I simply point and click. As Staples would say, “That was easy!”
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Whenever I purchase something major I usually do a quick online check anyway to see a fewer consumer reviews on the product. This is pretty tough to do if you’re relying on a sales associate to help you in the store. Most online shopping sites will have a page with reviews on it. Now naturally third party sites are better since selling sites have a vested interest in only allowing positive reviews since it helps them move product, but at least it is a user-friendly way to get some quick customer feedback.
Of course there are always a few cons that traditional shoppers can simply not do without. I admit to being a boring person in terms of not caring if something fits perfect or if it compliments my eyes. I just want quality basic products and I don’t really care if the color is perfectly as advertised.
Many people (ok so it’s 95% women) I talk to defend their preference of going to the mall by saying that they like to try things on first, and that they enjoy the social experience. If this is the case and shopping is a fun hobby for you I think you should definitely go for it! There is also the cost of shipping, but most sites will cover that these days if you buy a large enough order, and it is probably equivalent to the auto costs you would have incurred anyway.
Finally, some people just love the adrenaline rush of being the first into stores and hunting for bargains. If you’re one of these no cure ‘shop-aholics’ just imagine how many more stores you could visit if you looked at all of them online!
In my limited experience, online shopping reaches its all time best status during ‘Black Friday’ down in the states, which lands on the third Friday of every November. The extreme competition for your online dollar means huge cuts, no shipping fees, and limited time offers. I found Boxing Day in Canada to be a bit of a let down by comparison since many of the best deals were only available in store.
So as a shout out to all of you somewhat lazy, yet somewhat cost-conscious individuals, I implore you to try ordering your next shopping list online. Just on books alone I save tons of money (Amazon versus Chapters). I still enjoy browsing at Chapters, but there is just no way they could employ all of the people they do, and create the premium store experience without some of the costs trickling down to the consumer. I don’t know about you, but I can do without the frills if it means more free time and keeping more of my hard-earned dollars.