Online shopping at it’s best..
The internet has changed many things in our lives, from the way we communicate (Email, Instant Messaging) to the way we are entertained (Streaming, Online Gaming). It can, however, easily be argued that the single biggest impact the Internet has made to our lives is in the way we shop. You only have to walk down the main street in any city or town and you will note how many shops lay dormant, and how many familiar retailers seem to have vanished.
There’s nothing wrong with the occasional meander around the mall, but online shopping has its definite advantages. Sites are usually online 24-7, meaning you can make your purchases at any time of the day or night. The prices are often better, and you’re usually greeted with a greater amount of variety. You can send gifts straight from the store, and you can avoid crowds. Plus, as your shopping is done in private, you don’t have to be embarrassed if you’re a 40-year-old man and you’re purchasing a box-set of Glee for your favorite niece. Or even for yourself.
Here is a detailed run-down of the top ten online shopping sites that are merely a click away.
Once upon a time, Amazon was a loss-making online book retailer. Now it is undoubtedly the number one online retailer on the internet, even though it still seems to make losses. Amazon stills sells books, of course; it just sells everything else as well. They have 33 retail departments and excellent daily deals if you’re hunting for bargains. You can usually club your purchases together and save on postal fees, which, if you buy enough, are usually free. The customer rating and review system is also invaluable as you can see what other shoppers made of your potential purchases before splashing out your cash.
Netflix began life in 1997 as a silicon-valley startup, offering a postal DVD rental service to the US via its web-site on a pay-as-you-rent basis. In ten years, it sent out over one billion DVDs. By 2013 it had nearly 30 million regular customers, and returned a revenue of over three and a half billion dollars. Netflix now concentrates on its internet streaming services, meaning for a fee of around $10 a month you can purchase films, TV programs and other media to watch on your SmartTV, PC, tablet or SmartPhone.
3. Ebay – www.ebay.com
Ebay, like Netflix, was a silicon-valley based dot.com startup, and easily survived the dot.com bubble burst of 2000 that took familiar names such as lastminute.com with it. Ebay sprang into life in 1995 as an online auction site. It has now developed into a platform for smaller online retailers whilst retaining its auction-based roots. You can still though hunt for bargain items offered by individual sellers whilst perusing the millions of items offered by Ebay’s community of online shops.
It is surprising, knowing the ubiquitous nature of Walmart stores, to learn that the company who can now claim to be the largest retailer in the world only came into existence as recently as 1962. Walmart is also the biggest private employer in the world. Just as you can seemingly buy anything in a Walmart store, you can likewise buy anything you can think of, and possibly more, from their online retail section. In 2011 Walmart began to roll out its “Walmart ToGo” service, meaning you can buy groceries and personal items online and have them delivered right to your door.
Everyone knows that Ikea are Swedish – the yellow and blue of their logo is a clue. However, whilst Ikea did certainly originate in Sweden as long ago as 1943, the company is now actually Dutch, and has its headquarters in Delft in the Netherlands. Ikea are famous for their range of flat-packed furniture, complete with puzzling assembly instructions, but also sell a range of kitchens and appliances, as well as textiles and rugs, all of which are available to order online.
The second-largest discount retailer in the US, lagging slightly behind Walmart, Target was founded in 1902 as Dayton Dry Goods by George Dayton, and now has over 1,800 stores in the US and Canada. Their colorful site allows you to purchase from a massive collection of items, plus, if you subscribe to their REDcard, you receive 5% off your total purchase price and are guaranteed free shipping for your items.
Best Buy are established the US’s leading retailer of electrical equipment, such as TVs, computers and domestic appliances. You can purchase everything you’d find at a Best Buy store online, and usually with free shipping. You can also check their site daily for hot deals and special offers, and purchase gift cards as presents for your nearest and dearest.
Newegg are an online-only retailer, specializing in electrical items and, because they are online-only, are usually able to offer great deals and items at prices lower than you’d usually find in retail outlets. Like Ebay, Newegg offer smaller retailers the chance to join up with them via their Marketplace section, giving such retailers exposure to Newegg’s 22 million customer base.
Sears have been a familiar face in our malls since 1893, and thanks to their online site, are now a familiar face on our laptops and tablets. The company began life in Chicago, but now had over two thousand stores all over the US. They specialize in clothing, footwear and household wares and appliances. If your order is over $59, then it is delivered free.
Macy’s flagship store, based in NYC, still claims it is the largest flagship store in the world. The company boasts annual income approaching two billion dollars. Like Sears, they specialize in clothing, but have other interesting departments such as watches and jewellery, where bargains can usually be found if you search hard enough. If you’re about to get hitched, you can use Macy’s for your online wedding gift wish-list.