There was a time when Amazon was simply an online bookstore, but now you can purchase almost anything you are looking for there through third party vendors. While Amazon is one of the heavy-hitters in online shopping, there are other alternatives that can provide you with different options and pricing comparisons. (For some of the dangers of shopping online, check out 5 Pitfalls Of Online Shopping.)

TUTORIAL: Budget Basics

eBay differs from Amazon in that you can purchase both new and used goods from the site. Some vendors only sell their old goods that they don't want anymore, much like an online yard sale. Some are professional businesses that sell new goods. eBay offers both auction-style and store-type purchasing. With auctions, you bid on the item and others can come and bid higher. Whoever has the highest bid at the end of the auction gets the item.

With the "Buy it Now" feature, you can buy the item right away. One of the main benefits of eBay to buyers is the feedback system, which gives you information about the vendor's prior history of sales. Most vendors on eBay are not household names, so looking into what other customers have to say is more important than with a big-name store. Higher-rated sellers are a safer risk when buying from someone you have never purchased from before. eBay does provide limited protection to the buyer if the item is not received or is not what was advertised.

Yahoo! Shopping
This site operates a little differently than Amazon and eBay. It is, for the most part, a comparison site. It aggregates online shopping listings from different sites and gives you the range of prices. You then purchase directly from that site, rather than Yahoo!. It is a useful site to compare prices and features for goods before purchasing. If you enter your zip code, the site will also include the shipping costs and tax for each online store. Each online store has a rating by other Yahoo! shoppers, so you can see which stores are popular with shoppers.

QVC has been around since 1986 and has grown into one of the largest online shopping portals in the world. QVC has a television channel that runs 24/7, showcasing products that it sells on its site. You can purchase either on the website or over the telephone. Vendors provide QVC with product so everything comes directly from their warehouse. An important benefit of QVC is that its site includes video clips from its on-air presence, so that you can see the item in operation. You can also look at product feedback from other shoppers and find other alternatives.

Online Store Websites
Many bricks-and-mortar stores now have an online shopping feature and you can order directly from their website. This is a great way to order from reputable stores that you already know and shop at. If dealing directly with an online store, it is still prudent to go to a site such as Yahoo! Shopping to do some comparison shopping first before purchasing. Some online sites, such as Wal-Mart, will also allow you to purchase online and pick the items up at your local store without being charged shipping and handling. It gives you access to a much wider variety of goods than would normally be available at store.

The Bottom Line
There are several alternatives when it comes to online shopping. The more you know about the reputation of the vendor and the quality of the product, the better your purchase experience will be. (For more ways to save money online, read 6 Ways To Save Online.)

Related Articles
  1. Stock Analysis

    Markets Are Tanking: Time to Buy Like Buffett

    Learn about three value stocks Warren Buffett holds in his portfolio. See how Buffett uses market declines to find good deals on stocks.
  2. Budgeting

    How To Save Money When Moving

    Moving doesn't have to be as expensive as you think. Here are some great ways to save money on moving costs.
  3. Budgeting

    The Hard Way We Pay For Convenience

    Convenience is a luxury. However, any cost-conscious individual should be aware of these ridiculous ways we pay for convenience and how to avoid them.
  4. Stock Analysis

    The 6 Best Dividend Stocks in the Consumer Staples Sector

    Learn about the top six companies that make an attractive investment for investors looking for stocks for dividend income investing.
  5. Mutual Funds & ETFs

    Top 3 Consumer Cyclical Mutual Funds

    Obtain information on, and analysis of, some of the best performing mutual funds that offer exposure to the consumer cyclicals sector.
  6. Budgeting

    How to Cost Effectively Spend on Baby Clothes

    Don't let your baby's wardrobe derail your budget. These top tips help you to save money and spend wisely on baby clothes.
  7. Personal Finance

    College Students are Failing Financial Literacy

    Financial trends among college students are a cause for concern, prompting a renewed emphasis on financial literacy.
  8. Stock Analysis

    The Biggest Risks of Investing in Amazon Stock

    Find out which risks are most important to Amazon's shareholders. Learn which operational risks impact share prices and which financial risks affect investors.
  9. Budgeting

    6 Cost-Effective Tips for Raising Your First Child

    The excitement of welcoming your first child to your family shouldn't prevent you from making good cost-effective decisions.
  10. Budgeting

    5 Ways to Date on a Budget

    Dating on a budget doesn't have to be boring. Try these 5 tips to find the best dates on a budget.
  1. How can I invest in electronic retailing (e-tailing)?

    Electronic retail is one of the fastest growing segments of the economy. Every year, more people are choosing to purchase ... Read Full Answer >>
  2. What is the difference between JIT (just in time) and CMI (customer managed inventory)?

    Just-in-time (JIT) inventory management focuses solely on the need to replenish inventory only when it is required, reducing ... Read Full Answer >>
  3. What are some common ways product differentiation is achieved?

    There are many ways to achieve product differentiation, some more common than others. Horizontal Differentiation Horizontal ... Read Full Answer >>
  4. How does a bank determine what my discretionary income is when making a loan decision?

    Discretionary income is the money left over from your gross income each month after taking out taxes and paying for necessities. ... Read Full Answer >>
  5. What economic indicators are important to consider when investing in the retail sector?

    The unemployment rate and Consumer Confidence Index (CCI) rank as two of the most important economic indicators to consider ... Read Full Answer >>
  6. What factors make it difficult to compare performance ratios between retail stocks?

    Companies that operate in the retail sector significantly differ in terms of their profitability and efficiency, making stock ... Read Full Answer >>

You May Also Like

Trading Center
You are using adblocking software

Want access to all of Investopedia? Add us to your “whitelist”
so you'll never miss a feature!