The game of shopping is constantly evolving. In addition to getting the best deals at the right time, consumers are looking to score unique and high-end items without leaving the comfort of their homes. These companies are not only fascinating in their approach toward the buying experience - they are changing the purchasing landscape forever. (For more, check out 4 Ways Social Media Makes You Spend More.)
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When a trip to the big box store isn't in your already-overscheduled plan, it's time to consider an online shopping "assistant" that can keep your pantry full - and your wallet from becoming deflated. While Alice.com isn't always the lowest price for staples like laundry soap, breakfast bars and diapers, it has a regular assortment of sale-priced items that can rival the smaller grocer.
A good range of buyer feedback helps shoppers new to a brand to make better buying decisions, and a shopping list reminder can keep that toilet paper in stock. And with free shipping on orders, and promotional codes offered to newsletter subscribers and social media followers, Alice is a little bit of heaven when driving seems like too much of a chore.
The heavy-hitter in the daily deal market, Groupon continues to offer competitive savings opportunities for everything from sushi to manicures. The deals don't just stop with entertainment venues, however. Deal-finders have recently been rejoicing in some of the more creative local deals, including photography sessions and invisible braces. With many new and small business using Groupon as a way to secure an almost instant client base, Groupon users should continue to see a wide-range of goods and services offered at discounts of 40-80% off (and many similar sites flooding the market, as well.) (To learn more about Groupon, see 5 Private Companies Worth Billions.)
Working with a similar platform as Groupon, LivingSocial has become immensely popular among deal-seeking customers and the occasional shopper, alike. Due to the recent $175 million partnership investment by Amazon, it has been able to offer some pretty attractive deals. One unique and attractive perk to buying through LivingSocial is its "Buy 3, Get it Free" reward program, which gives anyone who convinces three friends to buy a particular deal a credit toward their own purchase. As the shopping platform moves into more cities, the deals will likely become even more competitive. Watch out, Groupon!
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This offshoot of Diapers.com is an online stop for all your household needs. Soap (of course), pantry items, health and beauty, and diet products all come together for simple shopping solutions. In addition to the free shipping on orders of $25 or more, there are virtual coupons users can "clip" to make their dollar stretch further. As an exciting additional service, Soap.com lets shoppers mail in their paper manufacturer's coupons with pre-addressed, postage-paid envelopes that will credit a user's account and can be accessed when they are ready to buy.
While prices are slightly higher on some items than some other online avenues, the selection is impressive, and the promise is strong. New and existing shoppers will find generous promotional codes and an integrated cart with Diapers.com as useful perks for those pressed for time - and cash.
If handmade and small business are your passions, this site of creative gifts and household goods has unlimited shopping possibilities. While browsing the thousands of crafter and artisan stores can be overwhelming at first, an effective search engine helps to cut the clutter and get you to the gift you are looking for.
Etsy's simple layout and use of photos to create a window-shopping experience has helped to keep carts full and mom-and-pop creators in business over the years, and it will only get more popular. Before you overpay for a mass-produced gift that someone could make themselves, check Etsy to see if they already have.
The Bottom Line
Smart phones, lightning-fast deals, and direct shipping will continue to change the way we shop, and we look forward to watching e-tailers grow and change as shoppers' needs change, too. No matter how the product is sold and delivered, however, price, convenience and selection will always rule. (For all the good things associated with shopping online, there are also a few things to watch out for, for more check out 5 Pitfalls Of Online Shopping.)