The act of buying electronics online might have sounded bizarre 15 years ago. Never mind the idea of doing business on the then-fledgling Internet. But who would want to buy something like a television, a VCR, a home stereo or a car stereo without carrying it out of the store?
Today, of course, buying electronics online is anything but unusual—it’s a fact of life. In 2009, online retailers made almost $900 million worth of sales on "Cyber Monday," the first workday after the Thanksgiving holiday and a day when people nationwide try to find good deals on Christmas and Hanukkah presents. While Cyber Monday is the, ahem, Christmas and Hanukkah of online retailing, the other 364 days of the year are plenty busy for the dotcoms—and for you!
Buying online is a great way to save money, in more ways than one. With gas prices skyrocketing, it makes sense—and cents—to stay home and shop from the couch. Beyond that, though, online retailers offer the best deals because they don’t have the overhead of traditional "brick and mortar" outlets. It’s easier to turn a profit when you’re not paying hundreds or thousands of dollars per month in rent!
So what are you waiting for? Get online and start shopping! Here are some tips for you as you begin buying electronics online.
—Know what you want: Sounds simple, but if you don’t identify exactly what you want before you begin shopping, you might end up with a lot more than you bargained for. Buying online tends to lend itself to more spontaneous purchases than old-fashioned shopping. It’s tougher to put stuff back when you’re not actually holding on to it! So know what you want to buy before you even fire up the computer and you’re more likely to find exactly what you want, at a great price.
—Research: The beauty of buying electronics online is that you can know all you want about the product or products you are buying online as you sit down to log on. The days of thumbing through a Consumer Reports to find out the pros and cons of a product are long gone. Simply enter the name of the electronic item you want to buy into a search engine and you’ll have all the opinions you can handle (and then some). Sure, you have to sift through a lot of material, but better to be too informed than not enough, right?
—Sample before ordering: Buying electronics online doesn’t preclude you from giving a television, a DVR, a DVD player or a Blu-Ray player a "test drive" at a local store. Once you know what you want, and whether or not it is worth the price you’ll have to pay, head out to your local retailer and check out the product. Seeing it in the flesh, and taking an up-close look at all its features is a vital step in the online buying process. You don’t want to order the electronic device only to find out you don’t like how it looks or that it doesn’t match the décor of the room in which it’ll be placed.
Buying electronics online is just as satisfying as buying electronic products at the store. So save some money - good luck, have fun and enjoy!