So you wait until the weekend when you have some free time, get in the car and drive 20 minutes to your store of choice (Target perhaps), try for a close parking spot but fail because everyone else shops on Saturdays too, walk about a mile's worth circling the store for not just the item you want, but other departments of interest too (might as well, while you here...), wait in line to check out, pay for your cart full of stuff (half of which you probably didn't actually need), run through the rain back to your car, and drive the 20 minutes back home.
Pop online (Amazon, for example), type "garlic press," search through the results for your perfect fit and price, see that a hundred+ reviewers have given this product an average of 4.5/5 stars, click in into your virtual cart, then find the lovely item on your doorstep a few days later.
Is there any contest here?
I'm moving more and more over toward shopping in the comfort of my own home. There are lots of compelling reasons:
* Less time running errands. Driving around town isn't fun, especially when the store you decided to go to doesn't have what you were looking for. Which leads me to,
* Greater selection of items than can be found at one store.
* Smarter shopping, thanks to the gazillions of reviewers who have already rated and commented in detail about products they've purchased. You can save yourself from shoddy workmanship or poorly designed items by reading these.
* Save money. Often (though not always) the price online is lower than what you would find in a store, even after factoring in shipping.
Example of items I have bought online in the past year:
-Baby gear: clothing, toys, books, car seat, stroller, bib, etc.
-iPod speaker/docking station
-Portable Hammock, father's day gift for my husband.
-Diapers. (We pay less than 16 cents per diaper to have top-o-the-line Pampers shipped conveniently to our home! How? Amazon's "mom membership" plus "subscribe & save" option.)
-Groceries. This is a new one we are exploring lately. Both Safeway and New Seasons offer nice online shopping and delivery options, though they do charge extra for the service.
Of course there are limitations. If you're buying something new and unfamiliar, it's usually best to see it in person. Also when it comes to things that need to fit, such as shoes or clothing, it's best to be able to try it on.
Because of the availability of helpful reviews and the chance for lower prices, I often use a combined mode of attack: browsing stores while typing choices into my iPhone web browser to see what I can find out about it online. Or vice versa, researching online then popping into a store for a test run. This method is well worth the time investment for larger ticket items, so that you always end up with the best product for the best price.
My Favorite Resources for Reviews:
http://www.cnet.com/ gives really comprehensive descriptions, ratings, images, and even video demonstrations of their products.
Baby Gear, website
http://www.consumersearch.com/family-and-pets this has combined reviews from all sources possible and nicely written summary of best choices .
Baby Gear, book
Baby Bargains by Denise and Alan Fields.
This is a must have for new parents, it helps navigate the very confusing world of baby related "stuff" that you suddenly need (and tells you quite honestly what you won't need to waste your money on).
Best for general/miscellaneous/random reviews:
www.amazon.com since they sell everything from food to clothing to electronics to books to plants, chances are whatever you're in the market to buy is also being sold and reviewed extensively here by customers.
now, don't go too far with the concept...