When I was I college, Amazon was just gaining recognition as an online bookstore. I remember the feeling of pure excitement and maturity to have something delivered to our humble apartment in 2003. Throughout my four years of college, I would occasionally buy things online, but for the most part if I needed something I got in my car and drove to the store!
Many cities and two kids later, online shopping is a staple in our house. We don’t live in the boonies and, yes, own a car, but stores have made online shopping so easy and affordable that it’s hard to pass up. Rather than shopping with the cranky kids, I find it much easier to shop online while they are napping.
Who wants to load two kids into a car and shopping buggy, when you can have someone drop it off on your doorstep?
Detergent, diapers and wipes, picture frames, clothes (lots of clothes), local produce, baby gear, wine, cat litter, and so much more!
My neighbor has a running joke that she has never seen so many boxes piled up in one person’s door. Some days I feel like I run a shipping center. I did about 90% of my Christmas shopping online last year since I was so new to the city and 36 weeks pregnant. It was miraculous! Whoever decided to extend Black Friday to five-day event was a genius.
While I enjoy the perks of having goods dropped off at my doorstep, there are some things I don’t like about the process. I’ll share some of my favorite online stores later, but first I want to point out the drawbacks:
1. The wastefulness of packaging.
This is by far my biggest complaint. While some stores like Hanna Andersson will put your whole order into one small (usually recyclable) bag, others ship items individually leaving you with multiple boxes and way more bubble wrap than your kids can play with. I keep this idea in mind when I’m trying to weigh the positives and negatives of shopping online. If it’s something I can buy in stores and I know the company is infamous for excessive packaging, I’ll wait.
2. The Exchange/Return process
There’s nothing more frustrating than receiving the wrong item whether it’s your fault or the manufacturer’s. I’ve been known to order duplicate items or the wrong item simply because you can’t actually see it before you purchase it. Luckily, many stores such as Bed Bath & Beyond and J. Crew will take the item back in-store. I find this easier than making a trip to the post office, especially if it’s an exchange.
3. Inability to try item on or see the item in person.
You can read all the reviews you want, but essentially you will never know how something works until you put your hands on it.
Now that I’ve let out my frustration with the internet, I can share some of the positive experiences I’ve had with some awesome online retailers and tips for success.
What a brilliant idea to ship air filters to your door! I found out about this after we moved back to Louisiana in one of those new neighbor packages. I thought I would use the discount code then cancel, but I’m still a member three years later! I love that it saves my air filter sizes (we have four units in our multi-level North Chattanooga house), so I don’t have to remember the sizes or styles that I like. I can select the quality of the filter and frequency of shipping. Plus, they allow me to skip a shipment if I get behind on changing them (ahem).
Again, another subscription service that I thought I would try once with the $100 voucher. If you’re a wine drinker or like to host parties, this is a terrific service. You can select the amount of money deposited from your account each month (I choose $40) and use that money to buy cases of wine. That money goes directly to winemakers all over the world to support their vineyards. You can read their bios, details of the wine, and reviews from other consumers. You also get 40-60% off, plus a free bottle of wine with each case!
The Weekly Fig
The Weekly Fig is a local, membership-based company that connects consumers to local vendors. For as little as $17.96 you get a weekly box of seasonal produce. You can also add to your order eggs, meat, dairy products, tea, baked goods, supplements, beauty products and much more! Free shipping is offered on orders over $35. Since I’m not the best meal planner around, I’ve found it very helpful to have a bag of veggies and eggs dropped off at my door every Wednesday. From there, I can make a variety of healthy meals! Plus, I feel good knowing that I’m supporting our community of amazing farmers.
Below are my other favorite online retailers, in no particular order. I shop with them continually for their ease of returns/exchanges, quality and variety of merchandise, packaging, customer service, and speed of delivery:
H&M (tip: check out their conscious collection for sustainable clothes)
Bed Bath & Beyond (includes BuyBuyBaby)