Should I be doing more of my shopping online?
April 22, 2010 11:21 AM   Subscribe

Is doing more shopping online a (sensible) way to save money on standard, living day-to-day purchases? Which reputable companies and sites should I be looking to?

I'm not looking for insane discounts - just cheaper than you would pay in-store.

Also, bonus point for suggestions for sites that sell baby stuff, as we're expecting in September.

Bonus bonus points for answering to my one special condition: I'm in Canada. Many companies won't ship to Canada, so I'd have to set up something with a parcel forwarding service. Still worthwhile?

Note: this question may seem naive, but seriously, because of the shipping issue I don't even consider buying stuff online unless it's books from (which has much less selection than, by the way).
posted by kitcat to Shopping (8 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
I thought there would be lots of answers to this question right away. Should I have phrased it differently? How about this:

It's my impression that sometimes, items are sold at lower prices online than in stores. Is this a rarity or is it often true? For which kinds of purchases and for which sites is it true? Example: books from Amazon.
posted by kitcat at 12:05 PM on April 22, 2010

I think the answer is Yes and No. There are too many variables to be more definite than that. For example, is there one store in town that always has the lowest prices? No -- sometimes the Shaw's has the better price on refried beans, but the Hannaford wins in toilet paper. What you have to do is be aware of what the things you buy regularly usually cost (keeping a price book is handy for this), so that when you run across a good deal you will recognize it. So to get a real answer to this question, you're going to have to do a lot of research, both locally and online. You don't have to do it all at once; start with a few things you know you're always buying and go from there.
posted by JanetLand at 12:15 PM on April 22, 2010

Why don't you consider buying things online? Buying things online isn't necessarily cheaper, but it's definitely more convenient.

For instance, diapers are great to buy online - the packaging is big and bulky, and difficult to get home from the supermarket without a car. We used but they don't deliver to CA, I'm sure both amazon and target sell diapers through their site.

Anyway, if you don't trust shopping online then there's not much to discuss. As far as pricing goes, you can just do some simple comparison shopping and take it from there.
posted by askmehow at 1:03 PM on April 22, 2010

I use for a lot of the standard non-perishables that I use up pretty often. They have pretty good prices (much better than than the drug stores in NYC) and they have free shipping. You can even set it to automatically send you a case of paper towels every four weeks or something.

People in NYC use FreshDirect more for the convenience of delivery, though the prices aren't bad either.
posted by jourman2 at 1:23 PM on April 22, 2010

I am in Canada and I shop online a lot. I like for drugstore/supermarket products. The prices are reasonable (but certainly not lower than you'd pay in-store, generally) and they offer free shipping on all orders (even if the order is $3 and you live in Whitehorse). I've also gotten good deals at Forever 21 (very cheap tees, tanks and accessories in particular, although they definitely skew towards the under-25 crowd) and (the accessories section in particular -- $15 headphones, that kind of thing). In general I don't make an online purchase without a thorough search for coupon codes ( and are both excellent). keeps expanding their product catalogue but I still haven't seen anything that wasn't a TV series DVD set that made me jump for my credit card. I hope that they'll be more comprehensive in another year or so.

For most things, you won't save money buying from US-only stores online and using a parcel forwarding service. Even if the ticket price is cheaper you'll get hit with duties & taxes upon delivery, not to mention the actual cost of parcel forwarding service.
posted by kate blank at 1:26 PM on April 22, 2010 [1 favorite]

Sorry, didn't see the bit about Canada. I believe Alice and FD are US only
posted by jourman2 at 1:31 PM on April 22, 2010

I've found to be quite a bit cheaper than Amazon, and free shipping worldwide makes it easier to see at a glance how much something costs, rather than adding to cart and calculating shipping at Amazon.
posted by chromatist at 3:47 PM on April 22, 2010

I'm also in Canada and shop online a lot. We do our grocery shopping in store as well as basic clothes and shoes but almost everything else is online.

I 2nd They have a good selection and the free shipping is definitely great. As you're expecting in September, I highly reccomend this sound machine. We have four from them, one for each kid. They also take both Interac online and Paypal, which is good if you don't want to share your credit card. is a good site for books, though not new and hot books. Don't forget that ships books and dvds to Canada and sometimes even with duty (which you don't always have to pay, luck of the draw and all that) you can get a better deal. It's worth the minute or two to compare prices. and are both good, with free shipping over $39. I always check both sites because it's hard to tell which will have the better price. Chapters just started accepting interac online, so that's a plus as far as I'm concerned. ships to Canada now. YAY! is amazing and many of the sellers ship to Canada. Etsy is great for unique baby items and art.

Ebay is good for a lot of items but not everyone is comfortable with it.

There are tons and tons of boutique-y baby stores. Two of my fave kids shops are Raspberry Kids, and Natural Pod.

As far as buying online sometimes the prices are better, sometimes they're not. I love to do price comparisons online, even if I end up buying in person. Plus, the selection can't be beat.

Oh, and if you find something you love from a store that doesn't ship to Canada 9 times out of 10 you can find another company that will ship the same item.

Have fun!
posted by Abbril at 4:36 PM on April 22, 2010 [1 favorite]

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