New users guide to online shopping

Written by  //  August 15, 2015  //  Business  //  Comments Off on New users guide to online shopping

If you’ve only just started using a computer, the world of online shopping is a thrilling place to explore. Suddenly you’ll have access to all sorts of products you could never find on your local high street. You browse this site, browse that site, etc. you’ve got the whole internet at your fingertips. Often you’ll be able to find them at bargain prices and many sites out there can find coupons or promotional codes (e.g. which can help you save further when you shop online. But finding your way through this maze of opportunities can be daunting. Where should you start? What do you need to know to find what you want, how to stay safe and how to find good deals?

Popular shopping sites

You’ve probably heard of the biggest shopping sites already. Their success stems from being easy to use and they act as a gateway to other shops, rather like using a shopping centre with lots of individual units inside it. You’ll only need one account for each of them, so they’re an easy way to get started:


  • Amazon – it made its name with books but you can now use it to buy almost anything, and you can also make wishlists that your friends and family members can use to buy you presents.
  • eBay – choose between bidding in auctions (a much simpler process than it sounds) or making set payments for a wide variety of goods from clothes to cars, including new and secondhand items.

You’ll also find most of your favourite high street stores and supermarkets online, making it easy to order familiar products with the security of a company you trust – but these retailers don’t necessarily offer the lowest prices.

Niche shopping sites

Alongside the big general shopping sites are myriad niche ones such as the following:

  • Etsy – bespoke goods usually sold directly by the people making them – everything from handcrafted furniture to jewellery and wall art.
  • Rakuten’s Play – the go-to marketplace for DVDs and Blu-ray that has now expanded to cover many different products, but focuses on entertainment.
  • Gumtree – the UK’s largest centre for trading directly with other members of the public, this sells the kind of item you used to see in newspaper small ads.


Money saving tips

The really good thing about shopping online is that it’s very little effort to shop around, so if you find a particular product you like you can use a search engine such as Google or Yahoo or a price comparison site like Only Reviews to see if it’s cheaper elsewhere. If you’re looking for a particular product type, a price comparison site might come in useful. You can also check out companies like Grouptrader on LinkedIn, which offer ways of getting discounts and reward points.

Stay safe when shopping

There are inevitably some risks to shopping online, but if you’re careful, you can stay as safe as you would be shopping in the old-fashioned way. One of the first things you can do is to shop only with a credit card that carries insurance against fraud. You can also use an online system like PayPal to avoid having to share your card details directly, in most instances. Only use the official apps offered by stores you know and trust, and never share your details with people who contact you to offer you deals, even if you’ve previously bought things from them through a trusted site.

Online shopping is much simpler and safer than it looks, so give it a go.

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