Shopping Online Is Safe, Easy, And Saves Money

Shopping Keyboard If you weren’t paying very close attention, it might be easy to mistake my house for a Canada Post package drop off facility due to the number of packages that are constantly arriving at my door! My wife just rolls her eyes at me and asks me “what did you buy this time?” and I must confess that half the time I can’t honestly answer that question until I actually open the package.

The reason for this is that I shop online so much and for everything – big and small, necessity and luxury – that I don’t really know what is due to arrive at the house on any given day. I often even forget that I ordered it until the package arrives. I know it sounds bad, but when you are buying things that cost as little as $2 and that can take 2-3 weeks to be delivered when ordered from faraway places like China, it is hard to keep track of it all!

My Personal Online Shopping Experience

Over the past decade I have made hundreds, maybe even thousands, of purchases online. These purchases were spread across almost every major online retailer that can be found in Canada as well as many more in the United States and around the globe. Of course, I haven’t made purchases from all of the smaller Canadian sites and I have a particular lack of experience with buying clothes online. I typically prefer to shop in a retail store for clothes so I can try things on and appreciate the look and feel of an item before I make my final decision.

Out of those hundreds of transactions, I could probably count on one hand the number of times that I was terribly unsatisfied with the experience. Naturally, there were a few minor bumps here and there, but nothing that couldn’t be resolved quickly and easily by contacting the vendor. Out of those same transactions, I have also never had anyone scam me, steal my credit card number, or not come through on delivering the product or at least a full refund if they ran out of stock or couldn’t deliver for some other reason. The only thing that may have come close to a scam would be a Bluetooth headset I bought off Ebay that was advertised as if it was genuine but I think it may have been a very well disguised knock off. That was years ago now and you do take those risks when buying a product like that on Ebay direct from China.

I believe this extensive experience makes me well qualified to comment on the state of online shopping in Canada and teach you why it is safe, easy to do, and can save you a lot of money!

Shopping Online Will Save You Money!

A strong motivator for shopping online is that it can definitely save you a lot of money, not to mention it is also very convenient. You still have to be vigilant ensuring what you are buying is actually well priced, just like you would when shopping in a retail store, but your chances of getting a great deal when shopping online are much higher because comparison shopping and price checks are so quick and easy to do.

Here are a few personal examples of the amazing savings I have been able to get by shopping online:

Printer ink – My Epson all in one photo printer has always used very expensive ink. For years it cost $120 to replace all of the inks cartridges at any local store in my area with genuine Epson ink. At first I couldn’t believe the astronomical price of ink, so it didn’t take me long to start searching online for a better deal. Not long after, I found that I could buy the very same genuine Epson ink cartridges for about $60 all-in delivered to my door through Ebay.

Another option to save even more money would be to use generic ink cartridges but I was pretty scared to do so because I had bad experiences when refilling my cartridges with generic ink. After a few refills the print heads would always clog, especially on my Epson printers. I finally caved in 2010 and started buying generic ink cartridges off Ebay instead of doing my own refills and I am now able to buy double the number of cartridges (12 instead of 6) for just $19.99. That means each complete refill only costs me $10! That’s a savings of 92% when compared to the price of the genuine ink at somewhere like Staples. And yes, the printer has continued to work perfectly ever since I made the switch even though it is quite an old printer.

Cables – I buy and use a fair number of cables due to the number of electronics I have around my house. Cables are often sold for a hefty price in retail electronics stores with a huge markup to help increase profits when selling high end electronics that have a much smaller markup. For example, during several years after HDMI first came out, it was common to see HDMI cables priced for $100+ in retail stores and now, years later, it is still common to see prices that exceed $40. Similar quality cables have been purchasable online right from the very start at stores like Monoprice.com or through Ebay for less than $5 delivered per cable. That is a savings of as much as 95%.

Tires – I bought my winter tires online this year and got the exact brand that I wanted for half the price charged by Canadian Tire for the same tires including delivery right to my house.

There are endless more examples like these that I could tell you about as well but I think the idea is clear: there is a lot of money to be saved by shopping online. The discount won’t always as much as in the above examples, but it will almost always be significant and worth doing!

Learn More About Shopping Online

Shopping online is a broad subject with a lot of detail, so in the days ahead I am going to continue writing about it in a series of posts that will demystify it for the new and uninitiated as well as flesh it out even more for those online shopping veterans that I know are also reading this. There will be plenty of information for everyone and please join in the discussion and leave comments about your own online shopping experience as we progress through the series together!

This introductory post will be updated with links to every article in the series as they are released over the next little while.

Photo courtesy of Filomena Scalise

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Comments

Jaymus (RealizedReturns)'s picture

Sounds like us. We do a ton of shopping online and have been doing so for years. As soon as the need arises for something, off to the web we go. The "shopper" in us also does some window shopping online too.

One of the dangers is the ease at which purchases can actually be made. Shopoholics may find themselves overindulging in the world of online stores.

January 24, 2011 @ 7:05 am
SavingMentor
SavingMentor's picture

Yes, it wouldn't surprise me if most bloggers like yourself purchase things online regularly. However, I hope to reach people with these articles that are just starting to explore all that online shopping has to offer. Most Canadians are connected to the internet, but many of them are still only using it very basically for email and Facebook and a little light reading. Hopefully I'll connect with some of them and be able to introduce them to a whole new world of savings.

That's a good point you made about overindulgence. That's something you definitely need to be careful about. That's why I also recommend researching products that you need and want before you buy making sure you aren't buying stuff that is useless, of inferiour quality, or that you don't need.

January 24, 2011 @ 1:49 pm
Justine's picture

I buy a lot of makeup online and from all the amazon gift cards that I accumulate from swagbucks I am shopping a lot online at amazon. I was just talking to my mom yesterday about it, she thinks the "younger generation" is shopping online, not so much the older because they are afraid of it, don't understand it or find it too time consuming. I asked her whether it's not time consuming driving around from store to store? ya she thought about it, it is! ;)

January 24, 2011 @ 1:57 pm
cassie's picture

I love shopping online!

I rarely have time to go out to the stores to shop, so I like to do it from home in my pyjamas. :D

January 24, 2011 @ 5:28 pm
Brandon
Brandon's picture

If you're concerned about Fraud or other bad issues when buying online, then use a credit card that you dedicate to only use for Online Purchases. Make sure to keep a low credit limit on it, to calm your fears of someone stealing your number and going on a buying spree.
Using only one card for online purchases only helps you keep track of all your online purchases when you get your credit card statement.

January 24, 2011 @ 7:18 pm
Buck Inspire's picture

Cool article. I bought printer ink years ago and I've purchased gifts online like Amazon. I've also purchased tires which I eventually picked up at a warehouse. Savings is cool and many times there is free shipping, too! Look forward to hearing about your other online shopping tips! :)

January 24, 2011 @ 10:14 pm
SavingMentor
SavingMentor's picture

@Justine - I've been meaning to look into swagbucks for a while now. How much money in gift cards do you figure you earn from it in a year and how hard is it to accumulate the points? Do you have to spend a lot of time tracking stuff down through forums or is it pretty easy? Also good point about the time savings ... it is hard to get people to change their routines.

@cassie - the pyjama factor is definitely a big plus for shopping online ;)

@Brandon - You make a very good point about having a dedicated credit card for online purchases. That is actually going to mentioned in the part of this series pertaining to protecting yourself online. Shopping online is pretty safe if you are reasonably careful, but if you take a few extra steps to protect yourself then it becomes even safer.

January 25, 2011 @ 7:58 am
SavingMentor
SavingMentor's picture

@Buck Inspire - glad you're interested in the series. Sounds like you have some experience with online shopping but you really only do it casually. Well, I guess most casual buyers don't usually buy their tires online ... but your comment just came across that way. I'll be interested to know what you think about the other segments of the series.

January 25, 2011 @ 8:00 am

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