Some naysayers way back in the 1990s predicted that online shopping wouldn’t last. Sure, and they said television was a passing fad, too! As we all know, just the opposite has occurred. There’s a television in every household, and more than likely, the homeowner bought their television online—along with his books, music CDs, clothes, and maybe even his home.
Internet shopping is bigger than ever. You can find anything and everything for sale online. Many times, you can find it cheaper online than anywhere else. Internet shopping offers so much more than a discounted price tag, though.
Imagine a shopping mall where there are no lines, where there are no jammed parking garages, and no pushy sales clerks. This is no land of make believe. It is the Internet, where you can discover unprecedented selection, convenience, and opportunities. Online shopping gives you the luxury of browsing hundreds of stores from your living room, while saving on time and frustration. It provides you the chance to compare prices to your heart’s delight on a near limitless selection of brands and models.
For even more benefits, try your hand at classifieds and auction Web sites. These sites are like yard sales and flea markets rolled into one. Unlike retail shopping sites, they offer:
Access to super secondary markets. Take your pick of secondhand or brand-new wholesale goods at steeply discounted prices. The vendors at classifieds sites can get away with it because they aren’t paying high rent for a storefront or a warehouse. And in many cases, you’re not paying taxes.
Tools to locate unique and rare collectibles. Imagine a classifieds site to be like a sunken pirate boat, laden with cultural artifacts, hard-to-find heirlooms, and priceless antiques. The Internet is your deep-sea vessel, sonar, and oxygen tank all in one.
Reach beyond your neighborhood. Search through the inventory of a vendor from your home town, or if you don’t find what you’re looking for there, try that fellow in California, Texas or Canada for that matter.
Close relationships with vendors. You deal with real people—not big, impersonal corporations—when you buy on classifieds sites. They can provide more details about the product, which you can then use to bargain for a reasonable price.
Despite this bounty of benefits, you might still be hesitant to dive into Internet shopping. Don’t be embarrassed. You have good reason to take your time and weigh your choices. According to the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, Internet fraud tops the list of the thousands of fraud cases that happen every year. In some ways, WWW could stand for the Wild West Web, in that anything goes. Vendors can be villains in disguise, and there aren’t any online Wyatt Earps to protect you from these bad guys. You’re on your own.
But give yourself some credit. You have the common sense it takes to survive the WWW. It is the same common sense that helps you make the most of your money on your standard shopping trips. Become familiar and comfortable with an online vendor before jumping into a purchase. Ask questions and do a bit of research.
After doing your research, you’ll feel more confident in searching for your online booty. To refine your findings and whittle your list to only the exceptional sites, look for these additional qualities:
• A focus on local shopping, so you can feel more confident buying from neighbors.
• Free education and advice on safe purchasing.
• No-cost and easy browsing through available merchandise.
• Search tools that let you prioritize items by category, location, and distance.
• A straightforward pricing system that avoids the haggling and risk of auction bidding.
• Quick price comparisons among different vendors.
Unbelievably, a few trustworthy, practical, and exciting Web sites exist that have all of these features. To find these websites, simply browse through Google’s directory under the classifieds category. The best of the online classified sites offer these services free to buyers such as you. Some of these sites can link you at no charge to your neighbor selling the antique lamp that you’ve been hunting for or that retiree looking to unload an incredible piece of real estate—or the cowboy looking to sell his big-screen television.
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