Shopping online is the norm for a good share of the population now. I grew up addicted to mail order much to the annoyance of my mother. She would say, “You could get it faster shopping at the store in town.”I did not let that deter me. We would have have to go to the bank or post office for a money order. Then send the order out with the money order. The first item I remember purchasing through the mail was a doll that was on the back of the cereal box. She was three dollars and I saved up that money myself. My father gave me a quarter every morning for my school lunch and I would get a nickel back. I saved those nickels for that doll. That must have been around 1959 and I still have that doll. Back then mail order companies charged shipping based on the amount of your order. Made no sense to me since a small diamond ring would cost less to ship but the price could be extremely high if you bought a good one. Some included a handling charge as well. I’d wait patiently for my order. Often it took a good two months before it would arrive. It didn’t matter, I was hooked on shopping that way and I have always shopped from catalogs my whole life. So transitioning to shopping online was automatic for me.
Now shopping online is much faster that it was to order from a catalog. I still shop from catalogs that come in the mail, but after finding what I want I go to their website to order. I like the fact that I can find the size, color or variety of whatever I am looking for. If you can’t find it on one site, you can “Google it” and instantly find another that carries it. Once I embraced online shopping I never looked back. The website, Alice, is the site I first used for household items. I don’t think they sold groceries. I bought pet foods, personal care and household cleaning products there. I loved it! I thought Alice was too good to be true though. They had free shipping no matter how much you bought. So if you bought one little item for less than five bucks, it shipped free. I knew they had to be losing money on those sales. Later on they changed to free shipping on fifty dollar orders. Eventually they charged a nominal fee on all orders. The next time after that, their site was gone. I was disappointed to say the least. I really liked them, but I have heard that they went bankrupt. I wouldn’t be surprised if the shipping is what did them in.
Amazon enticed me constantly offering deals for signing up to their Prime program. Finally I succumbed to their ads and emails. I am very pleased I did. Now I would not want to be without it. My husband has his own Amazon account and I was able to connect my Prime account to his. He buys a lot of tools, hardware, parts and components for our alternative energy system. We even bought our refrigerator there. Most anything we are looking for is available on Amazon and ships free and comes quickly…..IF they are available through Prime. If not, it might not ship as quickly. That is not saying that I won’t buy a product I want if it is not Prime. Sometimes I do pay for shipping from a seller other than Amazon, but shopping online is easy using Prime. I usually check the questions asked about the product on the listing. Many times someone has asked a question about exactly what I want to know about it. If you have have a question that has not been asked, you can ask it before you buy. That way you will know if you want to buy it or not. Buying food there is the best because you can just put in the search box what you are looking for. Such as organic, Non-GMO, sugar-free, low-carb, gluten-free or whatever. I have bought many foods that I cannot find in my local stores. If you do not want to buy imported products Amazon gives you that information in the listing. If it is not there, usually in the questions section, that will have been asked by someone.
The reviews are not as reliable, they should not be trusted one hundred percent. When I study the reviews, many one star reviews are written by a buyer who has a complaint with the seller, not the product. Or their item arrived damaged in shipping and they blame the product. Instead of returning it for a replacement they cry and whine about it. Return it and get a replacement! Often a review is rated one star due to the seller not shipping it fast enough. Again that is a seller issue and you can leave that feedback on the seller’s page. That is not the fault of the product or manufacturer. Another type of one star review is when a buyer purchases an item and does not understand or know how to use it. Many times I have purchased items, including books, that have one star reviews and have been very happy with them. I wonder what were those reviewers talking about? Recently I purchased an AGPTEK MP3 player. After putting in a number of my albums on it and using it almost nightly, I really loved it. One night I turned it on and was disappointed to find it wouldn’t work. It was all messed up and I couldn’t even turn it off. Instead of a bad review, I contacted the seller and received a reply almost right away. She told me what to do and it fixed it. If it happens again, I know what to do now. Good sellers make shopping online so much nicer!
Grocery shopping online is such a time saver for me. I can’t get around like I used to so shopping from my computer really helps. I shop online for almost everything we use except for fresh produce and meat. Netrition is one of my favorite places to shop. I have been shopping there since 2009. Basically it is a health food store, carrying a large variety of organic foods and supplements. I discovered many brands that I had never heard of before. Their shipping charges are $6.99 for orders under $99.00 and free if over $99.00. My orders are normally pretty heavy since most organic foods still come in glass jars and bottles. Glass? Yes, glass is rare these days and I prefer it. Don’t worry about the shipping though. Netrition’s shipping department is the best there is. Every item is securely wrapped, making it a bubble wrap pillow or envelope around the product. Each item is packaged separately so they do not bang against each other in shipping. If I order early enough in the day, my order will be here the next day or the day after.
The last couple of years I have started ordering from Walmart. too. Now their prices are great as usual……BUT their shipping department needs some work. Well actually a lot of work. So far it has been the worst I have ever dealt with. My first order came quickly and nothing damaged, but that was just plain luck. They packed the products all together in a box with no protection at all. The second time I ordered from them, I had a large order of over a hundred dollars and I waited and waited for it to arrive. Finally I sent them a message about it and they replied back that it was damaged in shipping so UPS sent it back to them. They refunded my credit card and that was that. They never sent me a message to tell me that had happened or that they were refunding my card. They just canceled my order and forgot to let me know. Now I did not like that one bit, but I let it pass.
My last order must have had the jar of sun-dried tomatoes break because it was not in the box and the tea bags were all damp and smelled like the tomatoes. The cans of food were all dented and beat up. The main reason I started shopping there was for the Keystone meats since they always have them and at a good price. They are not available in my local Walmart or any store in my area. If they were, probably not at the price I get them from Walmart. I called them and they were very nice and replaced everything that was damaged and told me not to send them back. They were still usable, but they could not sell them to another customer. So I got extra for my trouble. I got my jar of sun-dried tomatoes too! I will keep shopping there as it is very convenient for me. I am sure that Walmart will improve their shipping department over time. They have to if they want to compete online. One other thing I wanted to mention about Walmart is that their disclaimer on their site says they can’t verify where each product originated from since they have so many distributors and manufacturers. I can understand that too. They have been offering various discounts on shipping so that can change at any time, including free 2 day shipping and a discount if you order online and pick it up at your local store. So more to come from them!
A couple of months ago, I experimented with shopping at Rite Aid. Big mistake on my part, not their’s. I thought the products I purchased were normal sizes and they were almost all travel sizes! Too much spent on items I can buy locally at cheaper prices for full sizes. I have bought at other sites over the years but these are my main shopping sites for now. Be careful on sizes of items so not to be disappointed like I was on the Rite Aid order. Shop around a bit too. I often buy items on eBay and have certain sellers I go back to time and again. If I have a good experience with them I follow them and when I shop on eBay go directly to their store or listings. For the most part I am happy with shopping online and it does save me a lot of time and money. Yes, money too! I don’t buy extras I see on the way out of the grocery store. Buying electronics, automotive parts and components for our solar and wind system has worked great for us too.
Copyright © 2017 Kathleen G. Lupole
All Photographs Copyright © 2017 Kathleen G. Lupole
I write this blog based on my experience living an off-the-grid life as a modern homesteader. Some of the links you may click or products I recommend may or may not compensate me for including them in my post. Be sure to read my disclosure page if you are concerned about that.