Are Men Really Outshopping Women Online?

Shopping online has become one of my favorite pastimes. For the past five years I have been a client and advocate of Amazon Prime. If you are not familiar with what Amazon Prime is or does, here is a brief breakdown of the benefits Amazon Prime offers.

  • Cost is $79 a year.
  • Free shipping in the US for any ordered product with no price limit. For instance, you can order a product that costs 99 cents and receive free shipping.
  • Second day receipt of your purchase is guaranteed. The exceptions is that, if you order on a Friday, the item may not ship until Monday.
  • Free movies offered for streaming.
  • Free Kindle e-books with a limit of one per month.

So is a Prime membership from Amazon right for you? It all depends on how much you purchase during the year. For me, the benefits are well worth the costs since I order about 80% of all of my online purchases through Amazon Prime. In addition to the savings I have received on shipping costs, I have also received products for free if they have not arrived within two days as guaranteed by Amazon. As with any service, there are some limitations and I would recommend that you read the service guarantee as provided by Amazon on its website.

With that being said, I did not find it surprising that, in a recent study by iProspect, researchers found that affluent men over 18 years of age have flocked to online shopping sites in droves. In its report, iProspect, in the table below, also concluded the following:

  • Affluent males are described as being over 35 years old, making $100k to $300k a year, and having no children.
  • 70% of these men use the Internet (by home computer, smartphone, or tablet) to research and buy products.
  • The top websites visited are Amazon (41%), Yahoo! (37%), Google (29%), and eBay (20%).
  • These men are also social in that they visit Facebook (55%) and Google+ (39%) on a daily basis.

So I asked my fellow Gnomies what their online shopping experience has been, and here are the responses that I received:

Zach Bornheimer

I’m an Amazon man, myself ;)

Michael Epson

Definitely Amazon, and its Prime service is too great to describe, here. I use every part of it that I can. I’m a huge reader, and Kindle is king in our house.

William R. Reynolds Young

Amazon, Zappos, and eBay. More than 70% of my shopping is online.

Ryan Hayes

Amazon for most things that are available with Prime. Sam’s Club for other things. In general I’m patient, so I use stores to check out things, but only buy there if I need something the same day. Even in brick and mortar stores I use my iPhone to get a ballpark estimate to see if I should get it, not get it, or wait for something better. Internet access is key to getting the best deal.

John McKinlay

Amazon UK, homeshoppingdirect.com, Maplin Electronics, eBay, and a lot more besides. I do most of my shopping online; only around 5-10% is done within a bricks and mortar business.

Aryeh Goretsky

NewEgg, Amazon, and eBay. I sometimes go someplace else if Froogle shows it as being less expensive and the site still has decent reviews.

April Elyse Weir

Amazon, Jcp.com, and eBay (audiojelly.com and beatport.com for music). I do like to shop at physical stores, but I don’t have a car, and things in physical stores tends to be more expensive than online. Although there are certain times where buying online is impractical — as with clothes or shoes as it’s hard to get the right size. Online can’t really recreate the feeling of going through racks and discovering stuff, pulling stuff out, and feeling the fabric and seeing how it fits. In physical stores, you know exactly what you are getting, so there is no dissatisfaction later on.

Richard Arblaster

When I had money, mainly play.com, amazon.co.uk, and hmv.com

Craig Chamberlin

Exact same as Aryeh Goretsky: Amazon, Newegg, and eBay. I seldom do brick and mortar unless I need it the same day.

Schyler MagicTrax

Johnson I shop online once in a while. Usually I shop from sweetwater.com, fatbeats.com, ughh.com, and occasionally Amazon. I try to buy at brick and mortar stores when it’s possible, but quite a lot of stuff isn’t available around here.

Bryan Miner

I love shopping amazon.com; the only thing I am not comfortable shopping online for is clothes, but anything else — if I don’t need it right now — I go to Amazon for it.

Troy Rutter

Amazon.com is the obvious one, but I actually did buy some jeans on ae.com, since I hate shopping for clothes. The fit was a bit of a gamble, but ended up okay. I’d say 85-90% of my online shopping is Amazon; the rest is eBay and miscellaneous.

Mark Dalton

Amazon.com, eBay, and that’s it, really.

Kyle Kimberlin

Amazon for me. I figure if I can’t get it from Amazon, or within five minutes of my home, I probably don’t need it.

Nate W. Thibodeau

Amazon and Newegg. Occasionally MicroCenter.

What is surprising in the answers is that the majority of Gnomies use Amazon as one of their favorite online retailers.

In a recent article at Forbes, the focus was on why Best Buy would gradually collapse. One argument that brick and mortar stores use for what they perceive as unfair competition is that online stores normally do not charge sales tax, which makes the online product more attractive because it is cheaper.

What the brick and mortar stores do not understand is that is not the only reason. For any of us who have made purchases from online companies such as Amazon, we recognize that these online companies excel in their customer service. Returning items is a breeze and getting a refund is as easy. I once received an item that I did not order and Amazon told me to keep it. I have also returned items that did not meet my needs without an issue. Amazon does bend over backwards to make your shopping experience the best it can be. The company wants our business and is willing to provide the absolute best customer service available.

When it comes to us men, we prefer letting our fingers do the walking and searching. I know that I rarely go shopping at retail stores — particularly malls — and prefer the convenience of shopping online.

How do you do your shopping, and which do you prefer: online or at a physical retailer?

Comments welcome.

CC licensed Flickr photo at the top of the page shared by joshparent

If Online Retailers Are Forced To Pay State Sales Tax, Will You Stop Shopping On The Internet?

The battle between the states and online retailers such as Amazon and others is about to become more heated. Both sides have drawn lines in the sand and are not going to budge no matter how many threats are made. Amazon, because of its huge Web presence, seems to be the main target that the states are focusing on. The main thrust of the states appears to be the premise that if you have a physical presence in our state, you must collect sales tax. Amazon has sought protection from a claim by the state of Texas, stating that its distribution center, located in Texas, was an affiliate of Amazon. In the state of California, Amazon has threatened to cut off some 10,000 affiliates that make a living selling products on Amazon. Neither Texas nor California seem to be backing down and other states are now joining the effort to tax online sales. The states are claiming that the lack of online sales tax also hurts local brick and mortar stores, because the large online retailers can sell items that cost consumers less, especially when it comes to expensive electronics. States also claim that they are losing billions in sales tax revenues. States further state that shopping locally provides jobs, which is good for the local economy. Tax opponents claim that city, county, state, and federal governments have overspent these tax dollars for frivolous pet projects. It is also claimed by some that taxing online sales would become a nightmare for some smaller retailers online who would also be forced into having to collect taxes. This in turn would force many mom and pop online companies out of business. No matter whether a sales tax is imposed or not, I believe I would continue to shop online. I enjoy the convenience of letting my fingers do the work without having to go to a store and fight the crowds to obtain the same product. I also find it less expensive to shop online now that gas prices are continuing to climb. So for me it is more about convenience than cost. Don’t get me wrong. I checked out prices as well to make sure I am getting the best deal. But what about you? Would you stop shopping online if sales tax was imposed? Comments welcome. Source – SF Gate

Do You Pay Your State Sales Tax For Items Purchased On The Internet?

I was reading an article in The Seattle Times, Business / Technology section, concerning Amazon and a distribution center they built in the state of Tennessee. It seems that Amazon received free land and tax incentives from the state in order to entice Amazon to build the warehouses. When the distribution center was completed the complex employed some 1400 workers. But Amazon wanted one more condition from the state. The online retailer wanted to be exempt from collecting sales tax from the people of Tennessee who order products from Amazon.

It seems that the issue of tax collection is complicated. Amazon does collect sales tax for some states, but not for others, even though they have distribution centers in the state. There are some loop holes and Amazon seems to know the difference if their presence is by a subsidiary or by an affiliate. According to the article it stated that:

Amazon charges sales tax in a handful of states where it does business: Kansas, Kentucky, New York, North Dakota and Washington. The six states where it distributes products but does not charge sales tax are Arizona, Indiana, Nevada, Pennsylvania, Texas and Virginia.

In the most audacious move yet by a state, Texas recently hit Amazon with a $269 million bill for four years of unpaid sales taxes. Amazon, which turned around and sued Texas, demanding to see the state’s tax documents, says its warehouse near Dallas is an “affiliate, but not subsidiary, of the Amazon retailing entity.”

“More sales are taking place online, but they’re going untaxed,” said Craig Shearman, vice president of government affairs for the retail federation.

But it was this one statement that caught my eye:

Technically, Internet shoppers are supposed to report and pay for untaxed online purchases when they file their annual state returns, though few do.

Interesting. I must be uninformed, or failed to record this in my gray matter,  because I don’t ever recall hearing about this. I mentioned it to my wife and she was surprised as well. We have our taxes down for us and have never been questioned about online purchases we have made and of having to pay sales tax. Now I know that ignorance of the law is no excuse, but I just wanted to see how many of you knew about this?

How do you handle paying of taxes on your online purchases?

Share your thoughts.

Comments welcome.

Source – The Seattle Times

Credit Card Thief Shares His Expertise On How To Protect Yourself

I just finished reading an article in which a credit card thief shares the secrets of his trade and how crooks steal your credit card information. In addition he provided information on how your identity can be compromised and what to do to protect yourself online when making purchases. What is scary is that there are people out there who can steal your information so easy, it is kind of scary.

One scam that I wasn’t aware of is that waiters or waitresses can carry hand-held skimmers and scan your credit card number off of your card. They then sell this information online for $10 to $50 to scammers. The scammer takes the information and encodes it on a new credit card, and then makes purchases with the fraudulent card.

Here is some other information you should be aware of:

What about debit cards?

I always recommend against them. With debit cards, it’s your real money in your bank account you’re playing with. So if someone gets your debit card information and uses it, your cash is gone until you fill out a lot of paperwork and persuade the bank to give it back to you. Credit cards are much better at protecting you against fraud.

Is online shopping safe?

You’ve got to be careful. It is really easy to create a fake online store or to create a store that sells stuff, but its real purpose is to collect credit card information. I’d try to stick to reputable sites or at least to sites that have reviews.

That’s the reason it’s so important to access secure websites if you’re putting in any sensitive data, so look for “https” in the Web address.

So how do you protect yourself from all of the scams and scammers?

What’s your No. 1 tip on how consumers can protect themselves?

You’ve probably heard this before, but the most important thing really is to watch your accounts. And I don’t mean just checking your statement once a month. If you’re only checking your statement once a month, someone can start using your card at the beginning of the billing cycle, and they can do a lot of damage before you catch it. You’re talking thousands of dollars, and it will be a lot harder to catch them and dispute it. I use Mint.com, which is a free aggregation service that allows you to put all your accounts on there and monitor everything at once. I check that every day. It’s also a good idea to check your credit report at least twice a year to make sure no one has stolen your identity.

I don’t know what you do, but I follow the above advice religiously. I check my accounts and credit card statements at least once a week or more. I also do get my credit reports and scan them carefully. It is an eye opener when you see the erroneous information on your credit report. I recall several years ago that one of my reports showed two dates of birth. Go figure.

I only shop at trusted online merchants like Amazon. I rarely stray away and normally avoid unknown online business shops.

I also avoid using ATM machines when possible. I carry some emergency cash on my person just in case I feel uncomfortable using my credit card, especially when I travel.

What do you do to protect yourself?

Comments welcome.

Source – Yahoo Finance

Amazon Applies For Patent To Filter Gifts By Sender

We all have a family member, friend or associate who manages to pick out the most useless gift for us. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could filter this persons choices for you and actually receive something that you could actually use and want? Amazon appears to be looking into such a system and has applied for a patent.

Here is how the system works. You would filter our the person who is a known bad gift giver. You would have the bad gift replaced by a gift of your choosing, before the bad gift is shipped. The sender is said to be none the wiser. But what is the real reason for Amazon employing such a system?

According to one recent article it states that:

These gifts sent via some warehouse many miles away are not only unwanted, but also a multimillion-dollar headache: They have to be repacked, labeled, dropped off and shipped back to Amazon’s Island of Misfit Toys. Then a new present has to be packed, labeled and shipped again. Efficient, the process is not.

On the flip side some are calling this process ill-mannered and offensive to the sender. Offensive? Putting miss manners aside, it is a pain to try to return a gift. First you need to contact the company for an RMA, repackage up the item and usually have to pay for return shipping. Have you used UPS recently and checked their shipping rates? I have paid $12 to return a package weighing under 4 lbs., for an item I didn’t want.

Offensive? I don’t believe it is. I think it is a great idea. Just my two cents.

What do you think?

Rethink Negative Advertising

If you’ve ever experienced a negative online shopping situation, chances are good this one where “negative advertising” was involved tops them all. Worse, it appears that the individual who was involved in one of the worse online shopping experiences I’ve ever read about has made a success out of screwing over his customers. What a charmer, really.

For obvious reasons I am not mentioning his “site” or his name, considering the issues at hand. But the greater issue at hand here is that this guy figured out a way to game Google in a very substantial sort of way. How substantial? At least upper middle class kind of substantial from the looks of his house and lifestyle.

What is worse is that this person had managed to selectively victimize certain customers and appeared to blatantly get away with it. Even after finally being arrested, he seems to have only been let off as if nothing had ever happened.

According to the story linked above, Google finally got around to adjusting the search algorithm so that “people” like this gem of a man cannot use complaint sites to game SEO results in the future. Sadly, however, I haven’t been able to determine whether or not he has been “Google slapped” by other search engines. If not… oh, boy.

Will You Be Standing In Line On Black Friday To Get The Best Deal?

As we approach the traditional Black Friday shopping season, I have been going over the ads and I must admit that some of the sales are tempting. But what is not so tempting is the idea of getting to a store at 4:00 am just to save a few bucks. Not only is the hour early, but if you are able to read the tiny print at the bottom of the ads, so are the number of in stock items that are offered. In one retail ad I saw a 50% off offer for a new wash-dryer combo, but each store was limited to just 4 pairs.

I am just curious?

How many of you plan on getting up in the wee hours of the money and plan on getting in line for a Black Friday special?

More importantly, if you are getting up early to show, tell us why?

Comments as always are welcome.

Walmart Is Offering Free Online Shipping To Increase Sales

Walmart is going to be providing free shipping on their online Web sites beginning now until December 20, 2010, The retailing giant is hoping to increase its sales by using free shipping as an incentive to consumers to do their shopping with it. They company hopes that this offer will lure shoppers from the likes of Amazon and other online retailers this holiday season.

One recent article states that:

But given Walmart’s scale and influence in the marketplace, its free pass for shipping sets a new high — or low — in e-commerce. And it may create an expectation among consumers — free shipping, no minimum, always — that would make it harder for smaller e-commerce sites to survive.

Walmart says it will not raise prices to offset shipping and will not press shippers, like UPS and FedEx, to absorb the costs. But Walmart and other big retailers already have low-price contracts with shippers, and the stores maintain distribution centers nationwide that reduce shipping distances and costs.

For smaller retailers and Web sites, which pay regular mail rates and may ship from only one location, free shipping is not nearly as affordable and often must be added into prices.

This is one statement that I agree with:

Retailers say that shoppers have already started to revolt against shipping fees. While consumers are sensitive to what an item costs online, shipping costs can have even more influence, according to market research.

I will not order an item online from any retailer when I see a high shipping and handling rate. I have seen some items offered for sale on Amazon or eBay where the shipping fee is more than the cost of the item. If online retailers want my business, they’d better offer free or low-cost shipping on the items they sell.

What about you? Are shipping costs a factor in your online purchases?

Comments welcome.

Source – NY Times

TheFind

There should be an image here!I’m sure that the majority of you have at least purchased one item online before. For many of us, online shopping is a way of life. While going to a retail store and shopping does have its place, the convenience and savings that you can experience by shopping online are very attractive. Of course, with so many online retailers out there, it can be hard to figure out where you should go to buy something online. This is why shopping search engines like TheFind are so useful.

By using TheFind, you can search for products for sale that are listed on a wide variety of sites or in local stores, and when the results are pulled together, you’re able to sort them by price, color, brand, and so on. This helps you to find exactly what you want, and once that’s been achieved, you can also use the site to search for coupons and reviews. One of their newer features even allows you to use Facebook and your friends to find recommended products. Get that credit card ready.

Rightcliq

There should be an image here!Online shopping is a way of life for many of us. Instead of driving to the store, plenty of consumers are totally fine to do at least a portion of their shopping from home using the Internet and then wait a couple days to receive their purchases. Online shopping isn’t broken, but there are definitely areas in which it can be done in a smarter way. For example, making the process a little more social is just one thing. A lot of startups have tried to improve online shopping, and now Visa has entered the fray with Rightcliq.

Yes, that Visa. Visa knows a thing or two about purchases and online shopping, and it’s that knowledge and experience that makes Rightcliq interesting. Using their browser tool, you can select items that you’re interested in and add them to your Wishspace. Your friends can give you their advice on what you’ve selected and help you make a smart decision. Rightcliq can also store your personal information to make purchasing quick and easy, and special deals and comprehensive tracking updates help round out the offering.

10% Off O-Day Sale And June Coupons For Overstock.com

Since the O-Day Sale was such a huge success last month, our friends at Overstock.com have extended it through 06/04 @ Midnight. Be sure to take advantage of this!

O-Day Sale
10% off O-Day Sale (valid 6/01/07 – 6/04/07 @ 11:59 PM MST).

Save 7% off orders at Overstock.com! – Expires 6/30/07 @ 11:59 PM MST

Save $15 off orders of $150 or more at Overstock.com! – Expires 6/15/07 @ 11:59 PM MST

Save $45 off orders of $400 or more at Overstock.com! – Expires 6/30/07 @ 11:59 PM MST

New Customer
Save 8% off orders at Overstock.com! (New customers only) – Expires 6/30/07 @ 11:59 PM MST

[tags]overstock, surplus, bargain retail, online shopping[/tags]

ShopWiki

With so many retailers and products online, it’s no wonder that shopping on the Internet can be an overwhelming ordeal. You may have a collection of Web sites that are your favorite to order from, but chances are that you might be able to find better deals if you expand your search and look elsewhere. Search engines exist to help you find what you want, and since there are billions upon billions of Web pages out there, it only makes sense that you would want a little bit of help with navigating the Web. Online shopping has even become so big that specialized shopping search engines are required to help you find the good stuff, and ShopWiki has built a collaborative one for you to use.

This search engine leads you to unbiased results, and whether you’re somewhat vague or specific (price range, brand, etc.), you should be able to find what you’re looking for from the more than 180,000 online stores that ShopWiki searches through. The Wiki Guides are fun to check out because you’ll find buying and gift guides that, in true wiki fashion, contain contributions from the community. In addition to contributing and creating content on the Wiki Guides, members can also submit their own video reviews to be posted alongside specific products. Go ahead – show and tell the world what you really think about a product.

[tags]ShopWiki, Retailers, Products, Online Shopping, Shopping Search Engine, Wiki[/tags]

What's The Craziest Thing You've Bought Online?

We’ve all bought something crazy online. Something on impulse. Something that maybe we really didn’t need. Something that, when you get right down to it, would have been better purchased in the bricks and mortar world.

My biggest crazy purchase was many moons ago, when I bought a nice little Weber gas grill.

This was way back before the first dotcom bust… about ’99 or so. I salivated over the Weber for months and finally just had to have it. The price was competitive with the local Home Depot, and as I recall, the shipping was free. I was keen on the thought that it would just show up on my doorstep and that I wouldn’t have to haul it home in the pickup.

But the motivating factor? The affiliate commission I was supposed to get on the sale.

Alas, shortly after the grill was delivered, the merchant went poof and I never saw my ten percent.

I’ve been pondering the mundane purchases that we all have to make, week after week, month after month. There’s a whole lot of stuff that, no matter what, has to be bought. And it always seems like we’re running out at just the wrong time.

It just might be time to start buying toilet paper online
[tags]weber, gas grill, online shopping, toilet paper[/tags]

Savefinder

Online shopping has become the thing to do, but a lot of people are still fairly uneducated in the best practices to execute while searching for bargains on the Internet. Even though I may think that I’m getting the best deal possible, I’m not an expert shopper, and there’s no doubt that someone else could find the same item in question for a better price. Sometimes these savings can be substantial, so it pays to do your research and ask for help when you think that you need it. Interestingly enough, you can actually pay to receive help from a personal shopper by using Savefinder.

The idea of the service is that if you’ve had no success finding a certain item on your own or you need more reliable information on a product, then you can post a question which gets sent to an online shopping expert, and you’ll then receive a personal response via e-mail from your assigned shopper. There is a listing fee, and you’re then asked to set a question fee that will vary in amount depending on how much information you want to receive. I don’t think that there’s a chance that I would use something like this, but then again, if you spent a few dollars on obtaining help that ended up saving you tens, hundreds, or thousand of dollars, then it’s probably worth at least looking into.

[tags]deals,price,product,online shopping,savefinder,bargains,expert shopper,personal shopper[/tags]

Wize.com Means Real Social Media Shopping

There is strength in numbers, especially when shopping online. The more positive user reviews a product has, the more confident you can be in purchasing it. The only problem is great review sites like Amazon don’t always have the lowest prices. So you head on over to Pricegrabber or Shopping.com to find the cheapest prices there. Well, a new shopping site, Wize.com, has just changed the game considerably.
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