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I am what consumer behaviorists would call a “heavy user” of online shopping. I don’t really remember when nor why my change in shopping habits began, but I have been searching for and buying products online since before the phrase “Cyber Monday” went mainstream.

Pretty much the only thing we don’t buy online is our food and other basics like paper towels and toothpaste, but everything else is fair game (and I have debit and credit card numbers, expiration dates and security codes embedded in my memory to prove it).

I think there are some big misconceptions regarding online shopping. For one, many people still think that it costs more because of the cost to ship items to your door. But I can attest to the fact that I receive either free shipping or a small, flat rate shipping fee for just about every order I place. Plus, with the cost of gas and the time it takes to physically visit store after store, I’d bet you actually save money by shopping online. Here are a few examples:

  • Amazon.com – Requires only a $25 purchase to earn free shipping.
  • Zappos.com – Offers free shipping BOTH ways (and because of this, I will never again haul my kids from store to store to try on shoes).
  • The Gap family of stores – $7 flat rate shipping fee on every order.
  • Target.com – It seems like every time I order from Target.com, all that is required is a $50 purchase for free shipping (and who can’t find $50 worth of items at Target??). Also, Target.com allows you to handle refunds in the store.

Another complaint I hear has to do with not being able to touch, feel and try on clothing or shoes before purchase. As I already mentioned, you can peruse Zappos’ vast shoe collection and receive free shipping to your home and when you send back anything that doesn’t fit or you don’t like. Also, I have found that some retailers offer a much wider selection online versus in the store. Clothiers like JCrew and Anthropologie have many “online only” styles and Target.com has quickly become my first virtual stop when I’m shopping for clothing for myself or my daughters because I’m amazed at all the fabulous online finds beyond what’s available in-store.

One thing I can’t recreate, though, is the in-person experience. Especially this time of year with the holiday music and decorations and Starbucks skinny peppermint mochas. That emotional feeling is not something that can be replicated by clicking your mouse. But what I think is equally fabulous? Spending only 30 minutes total shopping for my daughters’ Christmas gifts…while wearing warm PJs…and lying in bed.

To me, that is a pretty great trade-off.

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