By Kelly MontgomeryProvided by
The Internet is helpful for a million different everyday tasks, but one of the most helpful (particularly for those who hate malls) is online shopping. No matter what you want or need, with just a few clicks and a credit card you can have almost anything arrive on your doorstep within a day or two. This can be particularly helpful around the holidays when actual stores get crazy, or any time of the year should you never want to step into a mall or big-box store. There are thousands of online-only retailers that aim to bring you the best products, prices, and service from the comfort of your own home, so we've rounded up our favorites to give you some advice on which site you should use to order that iPhone case, pair of headphones, or new backpack.
This is an obvious choice, but the truth is that you can get almost anything for a good price through Amazon. Whether you're looking for a new phone, Apple accessories, a new pair of shoes, or that long-lost brand of hair gel that your local drugstore stopped carrying, chances are you'll be able to find it on Amazon and have it shipped to you without hassle. The site offers good shipping prices and you can order from several different shippers in a single transaction. If you're an Amazon Prime member ($79/year) you get free 2-day shipping, unlimited streaming of the site's Instant Video section, and a free Kindle book to borrow each month.
Good for: almost any tech gear, hard-to-find items
If you're looking for something tech-related, Newegg is a great place to start your search. This site has a great selection of tech products, including computers/laptops, computer hardware, TVs, home audio, gaming gear, and several other thorough categories. The prices tend to be good and the site is extremely well-rated when it comes to customer service. Newegg also offers user reviews and helpful sliders and drop-down menus to make your search results as accurate as possible.
Good for: tech products like computer hardware, laptops, home audio, and TVs
Moving away from the tech realm, Zappos is a great online-only retailer if you're looking to buy clothing, shoes, or accessories for anyone in the family. The site offers a wide selection of everything from the latest shoe trends to outdoor-brand rain jackets, and you can buy worry-free thanks to the site's free shipping both ways policy. Everyone gets free shipping on purchases and also on returns if you aren't satisfied with your item. Besides that winning shipping policy, Zappos also offers 365 days to return any purchase, so long as it's in the same condition as when you received it.
Good for: shoes and clothing for men, women, and kids
Overstock offers a little bit of everything and is good for those who like to snag a good deal with a little hunting. The site offers limited brands in some categories, but steep discounts if you do happen to find what you're looking for. No matter what you're shopping for, be it electronics, jewelry, curtains, or furniture, it's a good idea to check out Overstock to see if you can find a deal. The other major plus of this site is that they offer a flat $2.95 shipping fee, no matter how large or heavy your order. Buying a couch and coffee table in the same order? Shipping will still only cost you $2.95. The site also has a rewards program and a Worldstock Fair Trade section with handcrafted items by artisans all over the world.
Good for: jewelry, furniture, other home goods
If you're a photography buff and like to shop online, there is probably no better place to start (and likely end) your search than B+H Photo. The site offers a huge selection of nearly everything photo-and-video-related that you could imagine, and often has difficult-to-find products that may be out of stock elsewhere. The retailer also offers studio equipment, a/v gear, and home entertainment categories. Prices are always reasonable and we like that they even have a Used Store where you can find all kinds of gear for a sweet deal.
Good for: photo and video equipment, cameras, home entertainment
Sierra Trading Post
This retailer is one of our favorites when it comes to finding quality brands at serious discount prices. Sierra Trading Post offers everything from clothing and shoes to home decor and furnishings, but we've had the best luck getting good deals on outdoor gear like rain jackets and hiking boots from high-end brands like Marmot and Keen. The site boasts that everything is marked at a 35% to 70% discount every day, and from a quick perusal of the site we'd have to say that it's an accurate figure. Sometimes sizes or color options are limited, but if you're looking for a serious deal, STP is a great place to hunt.
Good for: outdoor gear, shoes, home goods
This one isn't exactly a budget-friendly pick, but if you're a guy who likes high-style but prefers not to hunt too hard, Mr. Porter is a great resource. The retailer is something of a curated men's shop with high-style picks from luxury brands like Dolce & Gabbana and Burberry and more affordable brands like J.Crew and Polo Ralph Lauren. The site has a selective offering, but that is intentional, aiming to create a small-shop vibe where you can't go wrong with whatever you purchase. The site also offers interviews with dapper celebrities and helpful guides to what should be in your wardrobe.
Good for: high-end men's clothing and accessories
We like this online retailer for its good selection and deals on home audio gear and home entertainment in general. Crutchfield has deals on everything from iPod docks and home audio receivers to car stereos and even TVs. Besides being a solid site with good selection and decent prices, Crutchfield has two other important claims-to-fame. First, anything you purchase is shipped for free. Second, anything you buy through Crutchfield includes lifetime tech support. That's two things better than most tech retailers can offer.
Good for: home audio, car stereo, TVs
This online shop is a great resource for clothing, shoes, and accessories for women, men, and the kids. The site carries a wide, but curated, selection of top brands at good prices. Each section has stylish picks by celebrities and fashion insiders as well as magazine-like features to help you get inspired, whether you're shopping for yourself or gifting someone else. The site also offers free shipping and returns with no minimum purchase, and each order comes in swanky packaging with a Piperlime gift bag.
Good for: Women's, men's, and kid's clothing and shoes
We visit this helpful site whenever we are on the hunt for any kind of outdoor gear, from your typical necessary rain jacket to ski, snowboard, and hiking supplies. The site offers current high-quality items from brands like Patagonia, The North Face, and Mountain Hardwear as well as season-old selections from the same brands at great discounts. If you want a high-end ski jacket but don't mind having last season's color palette, head over to Backcountry and you might find yourself a deal.
Good for: Outdoor gear for men and women