Best Online Shopping Websites
Consumers have many options foronline shopping, and with many more shopping sites popping up every day, it may be hard to pin down your favorite one. There are many options are available, so be sure to compare the 5 basics: selection, price, customer service, safety and reliability.
Compare Top Online Shopping Website Reviews
Read 6,037 Reviews
Amazon.com offers several deals for consumers, including lightning deals, daily deals, coupon deals and a featured deal of the day. Discounts can range from four to over 70 percent off. Prime members receive early access to deals.
Read 6,466 Reviews
JustFab is an LA-based online retailer of women’s clothing, accessories and shoes. The site offers deep discounts to customers who become members and shop every month. JustFab has a wide variety of shoe styles and sizes.
Read 4,811 Reviews
Offers an extensive online selection of over 10 million items supplied by 10,000 partners. Find furniture and furnishings, from décor and accents chairs to beds and beds for pets. Pricing for sofas starts at less than $300.
Read 4,685 Reviews
Founded in 1998 in California, eBay has several businesses including its auction website, eBay Marketplace. Users list items for sale for a fee or bid on ongoing auctions. Items are sold by individuals or third-party retailers.
|BuyDig.com||Read 202 Reviews|
BuyDig.com offers deals, including blowout deals, clearance and coupons, on a wide variety of products. They sell to both individuals and corporate customers and can fill orders quickly. Most ship within 48 hours.
|P.C. Richard & Son|
Read 2,566 Reviews
Offers appliances, electronics, home furniture and fixtures within the Northeast Region. Provides free shipping on orders $49 and up with installation services for big-ticket items. Offers two extended warranty options.
Read 1,099 Reviews
Founded in 1998, ConsumerAffairs.com is a consumer advocacy website. It features news and resources to help consumers make smart purchasing decisions, including buyer’s guides and thousands of customer reviews and complaints.
Read 1,024 Reviews
Etsy launched in 2005 as an online marketplace for unique handmade goods. Today, Etsy sellers can sell vintage or unique merchandise in their individual virtual shops. Etsy sellers pay a 3.5 percent fee for each sale completed.
Read 196 Reviews
Abt was founded in 1936 and is now a major appliance and electronics retailer with a massive retail site in Glenview, Illinois. Abt’s e-commerce site launched in 1997, offering electronics and appliances nationwide.
Read 1,138 Reviews
Sort by style and category when you shop online for home furnishings. Fulfillment centers deliver products of over 3,000 brands, including their own, at discounted prices nationwide. Sofas start around $300.
Features of online shopping
One of the advantages of online shopping is the vast selection available. Long gone are the days where you are limited to a single location — the entire world can now box and ship directly to your door. However, you should pay attention to the types of stores at your fingertips in order to choose the one that works best.
- Niche or branded stores: Some stores specialize in a single brand or even a single product. The reason these stores can be handy is if you need a part or piece for a specific item, a company exclusive or loyalty to a brand.
- Mass merchandisers: Like shopping at the local big-box store, if you shop online at a mass merchandiser you should pay attention to their price, quality and variety. For instance, some online stores have items you cannot find at your local big-box, but some items are easier to grab if available in-store.
- Luxury items: Some people want to purchase high-end products, but not every store offers niche brands or boutique-style items. If you want to purchase these types of items, you’ll have to look at a store that offers these options. However, be aware of counterfeit items by doing your research and checking site reviews.
Online price and policies
Every online store sets its own prices and policies regarding purchases, returns and guarantees. You may only be paying attention to the price comparisons, but you should also look for a company that makes returns simple and guarantees their product or service if you are unhappy with your purchase.
- Sales, deals or coupons: Many online stores have sales on items you might need, and these sales often rotate seasonally or by department. You can also save money if the online store you select accepts store or manufacturer coupons (often in the form of a code that you enter on the payment page).
- Return policies: If you’re unhappy with your purchase from an online store you’ll likely have to send it back in the mail, so look into your online store’s return policies. You should also consider whether the store or the customer is responsible for return shipping costs.
- Guarantees: Some online stores stand by their products and offer a money-back guarantee if you’re dissatisfied with the purchase. Particularly if you are making a major purchase, be sure the store has a solid reputation for honoring its guarantees and will refund your money if you don’t like the purchase.
Customer service availability
When you make a purchase online, customer service representatives can often help with product selection, payment questions, shipping concerns and processing returns.
- Prominent customer service features: An online store should make it easy for you to shop with them. Consider whether the customer service features on the website are clearly presented and easy to navigate. Some websites will have a “Contact us” tab on the page, while others will feature a text box on the side of the page for contact information.
- Chat feature: The chat feature, where you can text with a customer service representative in real-time, has started to become more prevalent in recent years. A representative can help you choose the right product or address any purchasing concerns while you shop. Before purchasing from a store with this option, give this feature a try — ask a representative a question about a product you’re considering. You will get an idea of how quickly they respond and whether or not they are helpful.
- Customer service hours: Online stores are open all the time but may have certain hours when you can chat with a customer service representative if you need help choosing an item or completing a purchase.
Safe online shopping
Whether you are in the market for personal care items, clothing, auto parts or art supplies, you will have many stores to choose from on the Internet. And while you can find adequate supplies at many of these stores, you should use caution when choosing an online retailer.
- Reputation: Shopping from an online store requires divulging personal financial information, trusting that your information will be used appropriately, and that your product or service will be delivered as promised. Be sure you buy from a reputable store that is known for ethical business practices and a quality product.
- Secure payment: When making a payment online, be sure that the company has a secure payment portal that won’t compromise your financial information. Before typing your credit card or other payment information, look for a small padlock icon in the web address bar and check to see that the web address begins with the letters “https” and not “http” (the “s” stands for “secure”).
- Check your statements: Keep track of your spending and check your statements regularly. If you notice any odd purchases — especially in small amounts and/or from locations unfamiliar to you — make sure to note them and contact your credit card/bank immediately.
Reliable shipping and tracking
Although you can place this under reliability, it is always important to follow up with the company’s shipping and tracking. When you pay an online retailer, you want to be sure you will receive the product within a reasonable amount of time and that it won’t get “lost” in the mail system. You may also want shipping options, like auto-ship or your choice of carrier.
- Auto-ship or subscription options: Many online stores offer the convenience of auto shipping products you need on a regular basis, such as medicine or personal care items. You can choose how frequently you’d like the store to ship a new product (for example, once a month or every other month) and your credit card will be charged with a new transaction every time the product ships. Some stores even charge a bit less for products that you buy on a subscription plan, which can save you quite a bit over time since you use these products so frequently.
- Affordable or free shipping: Standard shipping rates for orders at online stores can vary from a few dollars to ten or more, particularly if the weight or size of your order is large or bulky. However, many online stores offer free shipping if you spend a minimum amount (such as $25 or $50). Larger, more popular stores are often able to offer free shipping on all orders, which can save you quite a bit of money over time.
- Expedited shipping options: Many online stores allow you to choose between a standard shipping time of several days and one or more expedited options (such as 2 day or overnight shipping). These faster options almost always cost more but can be a great choice if you need a product right away.
- Choice of courier: Some online stores have an exclusive contract with one mail courier, such as USPS, UPS or FedEx. However, others allow you to choose which courier you prefer, which can save you money or time depending on where you live.
- Tracking options: Most online stores are able to track your order once it has been shipped. They will often email you a tracking number that allows you to log into the courier’s website or sign up for status updates on your package. This can help you track down your package if it is shipped to the wrong address or if it is stalled during delivery. It also helps you know if your package has been stolen from your porch or another drop-off spot since the tracking updates will change to “delivered” once the package has been left by the courier.
Types of online stores
Mass merchandisers and department stores
Some online stores offer many products in many categories or “departments,” much like a brick-and-mortar big box store or department store. These stores can often offer products at cheaper prices or with free shipping.
Boutique or niche stores
Some online stores specialize in one particular product or category of products. In some cases, you might not have many options if the item you need is a boutique or niche item, such as a particular brand of boutique footwear or a part for a particular brand of appliance.
Online stores with offline counterparts
Most major brick-and-mortar retailers also have online stores. While this might not affect your choice of store, it can be beneficial if there is a local retail store near you. You might browse the physical store first and choose a product, then buy it online for more selection in size, color or variety. You can also often return unwanted items purchased online to the store’s physical location.
Many online shopping sites do not have a physical counterpart, and are often run by a small staff. This can be a great way to support small businesses and boost the economy, and often means you can find unique products you might not find in a big store.
Some websites are not “stores” per se, but instead offer a platform for many different sellers to advertise and sell their goods. Sellers set up virtual stores or list products for sale, typically paying a fee to the hosting website, and buyers bid or buy items they want.
Hybrid store websites
Some websites function in multiple ways simultaneously. For example, Amazon.com is both a seller of its own goods, kept in warehouses and shipped through Amazon’s couriers and a marketplace platform for other people or businesses to sell their goods.
Online shopping websites FAQ
- What are the best online shopping sites?
- The best online shopping site varies based on what you’re looking to purchase. Sites like Amazon.com can be useful for general shopping. Other online stores focus on things like clothes, furniture or appliances. Remember, big-box stores like Target and Costco also have online sites where you can make purchases.
- What are the best discount shopping websites?
- Many discount shopping sites either offer merchandise on sale or keep track of deals and direct you to those sites. Woot.com, Groupon.com, Rakuten.com, Zulily.com and RetailMeNot.com are all discount shopping websites that you can use to find sales and deals.
- How do you know if an online store is legit?
- If you are unsure if an online store is legit, take a few steps to determine if you can shop there safely:
- Do your research: Search the store’s name for negative reviews or other feedback.
- Check the website: Misspelled words, bad grammar and poor organization are signs that you may want to look elsewhere.
- Look for contact details: Check for contact information and a section explaining the company’s background.
Trust your gut. If a site feels suspicious, it’s probably best not to give it your personal information or credit card number.
- How does an online store work?
- An online store is a website where customers can place orders for merchandise. You can browse, place items in a virtual shopping cart and check out using a credit card or other payment method. The store then ships the product to the customer. Customers can create accounts to save billing information and view past orders.
- How does Home Shopping Network work?
- HSN, formerly called Home Shopping Network, has a TV network with programming that advertises all types of products. If you are watching HSN TV and see an item you want, you can call 24/7 to order using the item number. Alternatively, you can go to hsn.com and make your order online. HSN also has retail outlets in Florida.
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Compare Top Online Shopping Website Reviews
Read 382 Reviews
Nordstrom, Inc. is a publically-traded clothing and shoe retailer with brick-and-mortar stores and a website. The site sells clothing and accessories as well as men’s, women’s and children’s shoes in a variety of styles and sizes.
|AngiesList.com||Read 608 Reviews|
Founded in 1995, Angie’s List is a website that compiles consumer reviews of local service providers. While the reviews are free to access, consumers can purchase a plan for more benefits like lower rates with service providers.
Read 1,736 Reviews
Vistaprint is a well-known custom printer that specializes in professional-quality business cards, marketing materials, signs, stationery and more for small businesses and personal use. They serve over 10 million customers a year.
Read 134 Reviews
This clothing line began as a men’s underwear line with the goal of fixing bunching under layers. The brand has since expanded to include base layers including underwear, undershirts, and other clothing for both men and women.
Read 161 Reviews
Anthropologie was founded as a high-end women’s clothing store in 1992. Today, it has a retail website and over 200 retail locations. Anthropologie’s website sells luxury women’s apparel, accessories, shoes, gifts and home goods.
Read 1,078 Reviews
Founded in 1948 as a mail-order catalog, Fingerhut’s website features over 700,000 products including home goods, apparel, automotive and more. It allows consumers to use credit and make monthly payments, with added interest.
Read 202 Reviews
Blair began over 100 years ago as a mail-order catalog company specializing in raincoats. Today, Blair features home goods and apparel for men and women, still available via catalog but also through a full-service retail website.
Read 707 Reviews
Founded in 1986, QVC is a leading online retailer and television-based home shopping network. It offers name-brand products on a rotating basis, including boutique and established luxury brands in home care, beauty and more.
Read 682 Reviews
Founded in 1995, Evine began as a home shopping network and now includes an integrated retail website. Evine specializes in jewelry, watches, apparel, beauty and more and a daily “Today’s Top Value” product at a steep discount.
Read 290 Reviews
Founded in 2000, OpticsPlanet.com specializes in sports optics, tactical gear, eyewear and other optics products. They offer a wide product selection, serving civilians as well as government and law enforcement agencies.
Read 487 Reviews
NFL Shop is the official sales website of the National Football League, offering jerseys, memorabilia, gift ideas and more with official NFL team logos and colors. NFL Shop offers many products that cannot be purchased elsewhere.
Read 336 Reviews
Formerly known as Lane Bryant and established in 1901, Woman Within is a women’s plus-sized clothing company featuring catalog sales and a retail website. Woman Within sells clothing in sizes 12w and up and ships internationally.
|The Bradford Exchange Online|
Read 580 Reviews
The Bradford Exchange was founded in 1973 as a purveyor of collectibles. Today its online store, The Bradford Exchange Online, specializes in jewelry, art, collectibles and memorabilia, many of which are exclusive to the site.
Read 676 Reviews
Launched in 1982 as the first television-based home shopping networks, today HSN also features an online store. HSN’s website sells name brands and new products in categories like fashion, jewelry, home and more.
Read 198 Reviews
Lids.com is a subsidiary of The LIDS Sports Group, established in 1995. Specializing in sports-themed ballcaps with professional and college team logos, Lids.com also sells other hats and apparel for men, women and children.
Read 216 Reviews
Based in California, Dream Products was a mail-order company and now advertises merchandise in newspaper inserts, catalogs, magazines and on its website. Their items include As Seen on TV products, gifts, apparel and home goods.
Read 39 Reviews
This brand touts “smart underwear for smart guys.” The men’s underwear brand has a mission of reinventing basics through premium fabrics, smart design, and convenient purchasing options.
Read 99 Reviews
This company specializes in replacement parts of appliances, lawn equipment, HVAC and power tools and ships throughout the United States and Canada. Customers can return items for any reason within 365 days for a refund.
Read 126 Reviews
Formerly Taylor Gifts, Collections Etc. is a catalog- and Internet-based retail store owned by Winston Brands. Established in 1997, it offers over 2,000 items at $14.99 or less, including apparel, gifts, seasonal decor and more.
Read 160 Reviews
Jet.com is an ecommerce site that saves consumers money on everyday purchases. Enjoy free 2-5 day shipping on orders totaling $35 or more and receive rewards in the form of JetCash, which can be used on future purchases.
Read 133 Reviews
Founded in 1993, Alibris is an online marketplace company that facilitates sales between independent merchants and website users. Among many other things, consumers may rent textbooks and supplementary materials.
Read 38 Reviews
This underwear brand makes their products with Lenzing MicroModal, offering a softer-than-cotton feel. Serving both men and women, the brand offer bold designs starting around $16/pair, or a money-saving subscription service.
Read 105 Reviews
Established in 1993, today f.y.e. features retail stores and an extensive website specializing in entertainment merchandise. It sells music, movies, merchandise and tech gear and features the option to re-sell used products.
Read 88 Reviews
Founded more than 100 years ago, Roaman’s was one of the first plus sized fashion retailers for women. Today it is headquartered in Indiana. Its website carries special occasion wear, denim, tops, outerwear, lingerie and more.
Read 64 Reviews
AsSeenOnTV.com launched in 2015 as the online retail branch of the company As Seen on TV, known for television infomercials. They specialize in home goods, health and beauty, apparel, gag gifts, novelty items and more.
|Fredericks of Hollywood|
Read 144 Reviews
Founded in 1947, Fredericks of Hollywood was a women’s lingerie retailer with stores across the United States. The company declared bankruptcy and was bought out in 2015, and is now an online-only lingerie and erotica retailer.
Read 28 Reviews
This men’s clothing brand wants to make shopping for clothing a painless experience. Beginning as a line of better-fitting pants, the brand has since expanded to include shirts and suits.
Read 419 Reviews
Originating in 1977, Sharper Image relaunched its brand in 2010 as an online retailer of home electronics, air purifiers, massage chairs and other lifestyle products. Their website is designed to be informative and user-friendly.
|6th Ave Electronics|
Read 94 Reviews
Founded in 1984, 6th Ave Electronics offers a wide selection of electronics including small appliances, gaming systems, cameras, televisions and more.
|Geeks.com||Read 27 Reviews|
Geeks.com is an online technology retailer specializing in cameras, tech components, headphones, speakers and more. After some financial difficulties, Geeks.com now offers “Daily Deals” instead of a full line of products.
Read 25 Reviews
This men’s clothing brand focuses on comfort and ease of care with performance fabrics. The brand offers dress and casual shirts, as well as other clothing and accessories for men.
Read 33 Reviews
Established in 1999, 123inkjets is an online supplier of printer supplies at discount prices. They sell a full line of branded supplies as well as remanufactured ink and toner, an eco-conscious option that reduces waste and cost.
Read 29 Reviews
SkinMedix is a retail website specializing in skin care, including sun protection, body care, eye care and accessories. Based out of Florida, it offers name brand skin care products at discounted prices.
|Cutco and Vector Marketing|
Read 91 Reviews
Individuals with and without prior sales experience can quickly and easily become a Cutco representative. Receive training and a secure base pay while working a flexible schedule selling Cutco kitchen knives.
Read 17 Reviews
This men’s clothing company specializing in shorts and swim trunks is particularly popular among college students. Offering a variety of fun patterns and colors, the brand’s most popular products average between $50 and $60.
Read 35 Reviews
Read 29 Reviews
Amway is a multi-level marketing company previously known as Quixtar. Established in 1959, Amway recruits independent distributors to sell personal care products. Products are also available for purchase online.
Read 159 Reviews
Brookstone began as a catalog company in 1965, and today is a major tech retailer with store locations nationwide. Its extensive website allows you to browse products by category including gifts, massage, audio and more.
|East Coast TVs|
Read 346 Reviews
East Coast TVs is a New Jersey-based electronics company founded in 2008. They specialize in televisions; appliances; and audio, video and photography gear. They offer free shipping on most items and a points-based rewards system.
Read 276 Reviews
HomeClick was established in 2000 and is now a leader in name-brand, luxurious home improvement items. They feature a broad inventory of items for every room, including appliances, lighting, bathroom fixtures and more.
Read 181 Reviews
|Out of Business|
Bidz.com is an online auction specializing in jewelry. Users register on the site and then place bids on designer rings, earrings, watches and more. Some items are also offered for immediate sale through a “buy it now” feature.
Read 181 Reviews
|Out of Business|
Poetry.com is an online community for amateur poets. Members receive points for posting an original poem or commenting on another member’s work, and points are redeemable for digital badges and pins.
Information in this guide is general in nature and is intended for informational purposes only; it is not legal, health, investment or tax advice. ConsumerAffairs.com makes no representation as to the accuracy of the information provided and assumes no liability for any damages or loss arising from its use.
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