How to shop at home

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Shop at home to save money and time using these tips for online shoppers

The idea of strolling through stores with a friend may sound like a fun way to spend the day, but the actual experience rarely lives up to the one you envision. You can deal with crowds, pushy sales people and hot stores, but you don't have to.

Shop at home for everything from food and gifts to fashion, and all of the physical discomforts become a thing of the past. Say good-bye to long drives, stalking the parking lot for a coveted space and muzak! Start thinking of other, more fun things to do with friends because online shopping also saves you a significant amount of time.

If you've never purchased items from an online store, the first time can be stressful. For one thing, you have an entire world of stores at your finger tips. Where do you begin?

Catalogs and the phone

Catalogs allow you to shop at home without using the Internet. Check out this article on the differences between shopping catalogs online versus paper. You can also pick up the phone to shop catalogs, order from many online vendors or make purchases from infomercials on TV.


One of the most important things to remember when you're learning to shop at home is keeping your financial information safe. In an article on safe online shopping, PC Mag recommends that shoppers look for the green security lock at the top of the page, or a url that starts with HTTPS:// to ensure their information is safe.

Tools of the trade

Before browsing a store, check to see the type of payment they accept. Most take Visa, Mastercard and other major credit cards and debit cards supported by the same. Many also accept PayPal. If you don't already have an account, you can create one and transfer money from your bank account. 

Bargains galore

Free shipping and steep bargains on top discount days are a huge draw for online shoppers. Sign up for your favorite merchants' newsletters, like them on Facebook or follow them on Twitter and you'll be among the first to know about store-wide sales. Big sales on popular items do sell out fast so put them in your cart right away, and if you plan to buy the item don't wait.

Comparison shopping is way easier to do on the Internet than calling or driving around. Use Google or another search engine to know which retailer offers the best price. You'll need to factor in shipping as well.

More choice

Prepare yourself for a lot more choices of everything from elegant kitchenware to fashion. In addition to a broader selection of retailers, you'll find a wider range of choice at familiar stores like Old Navy. A number of items will be labeled “Online only”, which means that you won't find this item at the physical store.

Read reviews

If you prefer to really vet clothing and home tools before purchasing be sure to read the reviews. Reviews will tell you details, like if a garment is true to size or runs small. You can also learn about the quality of craftsmanship. For electronics, reviews will tell you if an item is long-lasting, clunky or user friendly.

Nuts and bolts

As you browse a store, put everything that you're interested in into your cart – you can always edit things out before buying. This allows you to look at everything you're interested in with one glance, which makes purchasing decisions fun and simple.

You don't have to buy

It's easier to leave an online store virtually empty-handed than it is to leave the mall without bags after you've driven and trekked through a mall. If you don't find exactly want you want, take a break and search a different online store later.

Entering your info

You will need to enter basic information to make a purchase. In addition to your name, shipping and billing address, many websites will want your email address. This is to send you an order confirmation and alert you when the order ships.

Easy returns

The process of returning items that don't fit varies from store to store. Read the return policy before making your purchase. For most large stores, making returns is a matter of sending back the item in the packaging provided. You'll usually need to fill out a form stating why you're returning the item in order to get a refund, exchange or store credit.

Now you're ready to explore the vast world on smart online shopping

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