I absolutely ADORE online shopping! Once I know what I want to buy for a friend or a family member, I like to go online and spend a minute or two searching the web (and often eBay) to find the item and buy it. No time wasted!
Compare this to the way my mother buys things. She figures out what she wants to get someone. She spends the first day calling lots of stores trying to find the thing to no avail. She spends the next ten days or so roaming malls trying to find said item, often settling for something less than what she wanted. She wants to be given "points" for the time spent. She thinks her method counts more than my own. Ha!
Another big factor for me is that I absolutely despise large groups of people when shopping. In the South, lots of people try to converse with you casually, ... and although I love people, when I'm shopping I just want to get the heck out of there! It takes a lot of concentration for me to shop, ... even grocery shop, and people break my concentration.
Another word about grocery shopping, if you are lucky enough to have a grocery store that allows you to shop online with free pickup and a free personal shopper (with some kind of points/rewards system), for goodness sake DO IT! When I moved to this mountain town the thing I missed most wasn't my friends or my home, ... it was my darn personal shopper, Angela, who did all of my shopping for FREE with Lowes Foods To Go. I just put my points/rewards to this service, and it was always free. The lady shopped hours for me, grew to love my kids, would only accept a small tip, ... she saved me literally HOURS of time! **sigh** I miss that service. As soon as it comes here, I'll be one of the first to take advantage, trust me.
HOWEVER, I have to say that buying clothes online is a big mistake in most cases. Because different companies have different sizing techniques and forms, there's just no way to be sure. I spend more time sending stuff back (albeit with free shipping) than is worth it to me. Unless you know the sizing of a particular company (like, I'm really safe with Chadwicks), then just go to the mall, for goodness sake.
Another big significant factor is, because I live in a very special area (the mountains of Western North Carolina), there is no better way to buy a special gift for a friend across the country than to go to one of our local artists/craftsmen personally and buy, buy, buy!
As an end note, I have to say that there is a great advantage to buying things used off of Craigslist for a LOT less money AND for taking advantage of customer reviews, such as on Amazon.com.
Online shopping is perfect for things that are mass produced and are the same no matter where you purchase them. Items like books, CD's, DVD's, games, etc. are made for online shopping because they are the same everywhere and you don't need to personally inspect the item to know if it is what you are really looking for. Costs for these items in particular are often cheaper online since the retailer doesn't have the overhead cost of maintaining a store to factor into the price. Many online retailers don't charge for shipping for orders over a certain dollar amount and the cost in sales tax and gasoline can be considerable. For example I just purchased a video game a few days ago online. The price at even a discount retailer like Wal-Mart was $10 more than Amazon.com. And I know that the quality and condition of the item will be identical from both retailers.
The other factor with online shopping is that you can find a much larger selection than any brick and morter store can possibly keep in stock. The music I purchase tends to be more specialty in nature (film soundtracks). Try finding this music in any store. It was difficult years ago during the heyday of CD's! I remember when I was in high school in the early 90's trying to find a particular soundtrack CD in various local stores for months with no success. I finally was able to find and purchase the CD from a music store when I went on a trip to a larger metropolitan area at the end of the year. This story is laughable today since I could go online to any number of retailers and purchase the item in seconds and have it send to me in a couple of days! So online shopping has made searching for specialty items possible for people who don't live in major metropolitan areas.
Most people who answered this question really like online shopping. I like it too, and I think it is part of the wave of the future. It is certainly convenient, and it cuts out a lot of auto traffic which causes air pollution, consumption of the diminishing supply of petroleum, accidents, deaths, frustration, stress, and other bad things. However, there are things about online shopping that I really don't like. One is that I don't like giving out my credit card number over the internet. I have already had one serious problem from this. Another thing I dislike is having to return merchandise. What a hassle! And it often costs money for shipping things back to the store. This is after you've waited a week or two to get the things in the first place. Then there is the delivery problem. If you buy things that will fit in your mailbox it's okay, but otherwise there is the risk of having a big box dumped outside the door of your house or apartment and somebody walking off with it. The businesses that sell online are going to have to work on some of these problems if they want to increase their share of the market. Delivery seems to be the Achilles Heel of online shopping. You used to have to go out to buy things; now you have to stay home to get them! Another thing that bothers me about online shopping is that it is obviously putting a lot of small merchants out of business, thereby changing the face of America. Bookstores have been the hardest hit of all retailers. It almost seems as if the stores will eventually be offering nothing but tattoos, pedicures, haircuts, and hamburgers. The small towns of Middle America have been particularly hard hit by the double-whammy of Walmarts and online shopping.
I like to online shop for some things. Books are an easy one, and I will often order them used from Amazon. If a book used is a penny, and shipping is three-ninety-nine, I get a book for $4, and I'm fine if it's a little used. Textbooks are often cheaper online, but make sure it's the correct edition. I can buy plants online, but not clothes. Clothes I need to try on, and I'd lose too much money returning things for size, kind of material, etc.
Sometimes I'll order things on eBay because there is some protection with PayPal: for Christmas I ordered about ten pairs of angel's wings. It was so much easier than trying to find them in stores at that time of the year since Halloween was over, and we were doing a Christmas pageant. It depends on the item. Heavy things I won't order (I've learned that lesson), but sometimes something obscure: a cute pin from a school from the 1940s or '50s, which doesn't cost much, but looks nice on a jacket, is an interesting piece of Americana, and reminds me of one of the gifts that Boo Radley gives the kids in "Mockingbird." These purchases are the best: they usually don't cost a lot; you just have to be careful not to get carried away. And as long as you're not expecting real gold for a couple of bucks, there isn't a lot at stake.
I too am an online shopper in two ways.
First, I can really say a Kindle has change my book buying habits in very big ways, most of which are hitting me hard financially. I used to hear of a book that sounded interesting, but the chances of me actually going to a bookstore or later even remembering the title, were pretty slim. But now, with the ability to shop online for books on the device, I can have anything I want in a matter of seconds. Dangerous, it is...
The other reason I like online shopping is because I like quirky gifts. Thinkgeek.com is one of my favorite sites. Traditional brick-and-mortar stores just don't have the variety of webstores.
Another online venue with good selection is cafepress.com. I have a child with autism and I'm always finding neat stuff there, as cafepress allows anyone with an idea to use some basic formats to create their own products: mugs, shirts, jewlery, etc.
There certainly are things that can be purchased more inexpensively online such as used books and movies, and there are items that are not to be found in stores. For instance, we needed two new coils on our electric stove and Voila! there were online. Sometimes there are great bargains from such sites as Overstock.com.
But, the physical act of shopping is a pleasure that I enjoy alone. Dressing and driving to the city is an adventure, and it is pleasurable to walk around certain stores and enjoy the colors and look at artisitically made items...then, to go to a book store and wander among old friends and smell the ink, followed by a good cup of coffee. Give me the concrete experience, not the virtual one. I prefer the real life that I grew up in.
Guilty. I think I have a dangerous love affair with online shopping simply because I shop from those sites that give you personalized quizzes first and then offer you items based on your choices. That is totally the closest thing to a personal shopper. I HATE the mall because Alabama does not have a proper one where I live and the ones in Columbus, GA are either too "urban" for my taste, or even worse, they are STRIP malls. With the heat of the Summers and the freezing cold of Winter it is almost a challenge to shop at a strip mall. Plus, you never find good, "sick", deals that are customized for you. Online is the way to go!
Plus...it feels like Christmas when the UPS man comes to the door with a big box just for you.
One of the main reasons why I prefer on-line shopping is because it saves time and money. I can access many web sites within a very short duration of time to compare costs, quality, service and other relevant aspects and decide which is the best option. This is very difficult to do if I have to visit each of the retailers individually. Doing that involves burning a lot of fuel traveling all over the city, staying calm in the perpetual bumper to bumper traffic and finally the cherry on the cake is searching for parking space once I get there!
On-line stores also offer large discounts which I guess is due to their costs of operations being substantially lower in many ways when compared to the traditional stores.
I DO like online shopping in large part because it saves me from having to go into stores with toxic indoor air quality: the EPA has determined that indoor quality is most often between 30 and 80 percent worse than outdoor air! This is because the merchandise in stores and that we buy for our homes are made with and treated with toxic chemicals like phthalates, POPs, VOCs, flame retardant, insecticides, fungal inhibitors, recycled papers and plastics that all gass-off and dust-off into the air in shops ... and ... then our homes. Woops. I got off on a tangent. I like shopping online because it drastically reduces my exposure to toxic indoor air.
The common theme for many of these posts appears to be the research process before the purchase. I, too, appreciate being able to compare features and prices on the internet when I am considering a purchase.
However, where I make the actual purchase very much depends on what it is that I'm buying. I don't trust size information enough to buy clothes without trying them on. I had good luck purchasing textbooks online. Most of the electronics in our home have been purchased online.
Actually, the very bottom line is that I don't like shopping, either online or in person!
It depends on what and whom I'm shopping for, but yes, I generally always price-check an item online before purchasing (even in a store). For electronics, I most often find that the best deals are online. I do not like buying used books online, as most often the shipping makes the book price close enough to what I could find it for in a store on sale. If I'm shopping for Christmas presents for family out-of-state, I like the ease of having someone else ship it... and often for free!
I enjoy shopping online because I can do so in the comfort and privacy of my home. I can shop in my pajamas and no one knows the difference. I can compare prices with the click of a mouse. I can save money and prevent the frustration that comes with heavy traffic and no available parking. It is so convenient to shop online. Everything is literally at your fingertips.
I like to research things on-line, but I am still a brick and mortar shopper for most things. I just need to feel the finish on the towels, actually try on the shoes, and compare the fit of the jeans, and test how heavy the pan is. I am much more likely to shop on-line for things I don't have to touch -- picture frames, drug store items, etc.
I like to shop online because I live in the middle of nowhere. My town has about 20,000 people and is the biggest town for about 70 miles in any direction. There's a lot of stuff you just can't get here. So I like to shop online because it allows me to get things that I would have to drive a long way to get from an actual store.
I like to use online shopping to read customer reviews. Many times when I want to purchase something I don't know much about I will go to amazon or another web site and read the reviews. This helps me feel more comfortable buying the product, and knowing that I bought the right thing and got a good value.