How Do You Shop Online?

Posted by: Rob Hof on April 3, 2006

I’ve been noticing how many new kinds of e-commerce venues are sprouting up lately, from the fledgling Google Base and classified-ad startups like Edgeio and Vast.com to upcoming offerings from Microsoft, eBay, and others.

And it got me wondering: How do most people actually shop online these days? This will clearly be an unscientific poll, but I wonder if you might indulge me a few basic questions:

When you’re looking to buy a product, do you still go direct to the big e-commerce sites, such as Amazon.com or eBay? Or do you type in a query on Google first? Or a comparison shopping site like Shopping.com or Shopzilla?

What’s most important to you in choosing where you end up buying? Do you favor the places like Amazon.com or Walmart.com that have gained your trust before? Or do you prefer to go with the bargains you might get from smaller sellers at eBay or on the classifieds sites?

Let me know, either in Comments, below, or by email: rob_hof@businessweek.com. I’ll try to make sense of the responses and post a followup if they look interesting. Thanks!

Reader Comments

cindi dzialo

April 3, 2006 11:42 PM

hi rob- i swear by EBAY. I have saved so much, and have never had a bad quality item yet.recently saved over $400 on a car touch screen stereo w/warranty for my son. have to watch for negative comments. everything is listed in front of you. no searching. the only thing i think people have to watch is how long someone has been a registered ebayer, and the shipping charges. when you think you can save money and you got a real deal, the shipping nails you. gotta watch it. also, i never buy anything from other than the good ol' USA. if it a product like a tv or other big item i wouldnt want to pay shipping on, yes i do go to shopzilla. love it.

dg

April 3, 2006 11:55 PM

Amazon. Apple. Or from some companies directly like Bare Bones or other smaller software makers.

I'm afraid of the little shops unless I can find some details about them. Like I recently ordered from CustomInk because I saw an article about them opening their comments - they post all reviews from customers, good or bad.

I usually just type the company name or site and the word "sucks" in google. Usually tells the tale. I won't mention what I found under "Rob Hof" and "sucks".

Anand

April 4, 2006 3:05 AM

I am a Google fan. I always Google everything. When it comes to high priced items, I prefer reputable sites. The other day I bought a digital SLR camera. Used Dell.com. Otherwise, I would not mind about the size or reputation of the web stores. However, I also google to see if there are any issues with the site.

Theodore

April 4, 2006 10:48 AM

Hello Rob.
Well when we did this type of research here in Sweden we found out that new e-commerce companies need to spend a lot of money on advertising for people to remember them. By making a name you attract the shopper imediately, he doesnt have to look around. We visit an average about 6 websites a day, so you understand the importance of marketing. I send you a link where we talk a bit about the shopping experience from a customer point of view.

Barb

April 4, 2006 11:19 AM

I shop on line all the time. But as an IT person, I am quite aware of security issues. I stick to big companies (like L.L. Bean, Barnes & Noble, Hewlett Packard) because their web sites are written in a more security-conscious manner and they can afford to use Verisign or similar services. Occasionally I buy a little utility program from a small site and have had no trouble so far.

Mark Stracke

April 4, 2006 6:45 PM

First and most important rule: Never buy from Amazon! Their patent policy (one click shopping) is utterly offensive given that their business exists only because the people who developed the internet gave their work to the world unfettered. Next, Google the thing I'm looking for and see what pops up. Evaluate sites by looking at Buy.com or such and pick a combination of price, service, shipping and taxes that suit the moment. I've never had a problem and I've used companies large and small, known and unknown from all over the country. And last, never buy from Amazon (did I say that already?)

Jamie

April 20, 2006 3:35 PM

I really like to purchase www.giveline.com. Their prices are pretty competitve, but a large percentage of every purchase goes to benefit the charity of your choice. I bought a book and donated over $5 without spending a dime. They are super reliable, I've always gotten my products in a really timely manner and the customer service is really helpful. I think its great to be able to give back to society while doing your shopping!

ann smith

December 23, 2007 11:45 AM

I have been looking for a right virtual visa card to shop online until i found one on the forum called:
www.worldwide-virtual-visacards.com with a simple and easy to navigate site.

I just got the card and thats what am using...I dont want to use my regular credit card anymore

Festus

May 2, 2008 12:47 AM

I think that world wide virtual cards are doing a great job..
At least one can get a live help support staff to talk with should anything goes wrong..

I have used their cards as well!!!

York

May 14, 2008 3:16 PM

Interesting discussion. I am a new online shopper comparing with you guys. I used eBillme as the payment option at TigerDirect.com last month to buy a Acer LCD monitor. It's easy enough for me.
For those virtual cards you talked about, I heard about that before. I really want to try it out, too.

martins

July 4, 2008 11:18 AM

I know about the www.worldwide-virtual-visacards.com

They just introduced a visa electron atm debit card..I think they got good service for their virtual visa card..

I highly recommend them to all

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Bloomberg Businessweek writers Peter Burrows, Cliff Edwards, Olga Kharif, Aaron Ricadela, and Douglas MacMillan, dig behind the headlines to analyze what’s really happening throughout the world of technology. Tech Beat covers everything from tech bellwethers like Apple, Google, and Intel and emerging new leaders such as Facebook to new technologies, trends, and controversies.

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