The internet is helpful for a million different everyday tasks, but one of the most helpful (particularly for those who hate malls) is online shopping. No matter what you want or need, with just a few clicks and a credit card you can have almost anything arrive on your doorstep within a day or two. This can be particularly helpful around the holidays when actual stores get crazy, or any time of the year should you never want to step into a mall or big-box store. There are thousands of online-only retailers that aim to bring you the best products, prices, and service from the comfort of your own home, so we’ve rounded up our favorites to give you some advice on which site you should use to order that iPhone case, pair of headphones, or new backpack.
This is an obvious choice, but the truth is that you can get almost anything for a good price through Amazon. Whether you’re looking for a new phone, Apple accessories, a new pair of shoes, or that long-lost brand of hair gel that your local drugstore stopped carrying, chances are you’ll be able to find it on Amazon and have it shipped to you without hassle. The site offers good shipping prices and you can order from several different shippers in a single transaction. If you’re an Amazon Prime member ($79/year) you get free 2-day shipping, unlimited streaming of the site’s Instant Video section, and a free Kindle book to borrow each month.
Good for: almost any tech gear, hard-to-find items
Think of Alibaba as a massive Chinese version of Amazon. They sell just about anything you can think of – and a few things you probably wouldn’t think would be possible to purchase online. In addition to regular items like clothes, electronics, and home décor, Alibaba lists stuff like heavy industrial machinery and raw materials. Sure, the average consumer reading this probably doesn’t need a 20-ton magnetic separator for iron ore, but items like that really drive home the fact that they sell almost everything. They ship goods worldwide and index products from millions of different sellers, so make a point to check where the seller is located and make sure that shipping costs won’t be ridiculously high.
Good for: anything you can think of – jewelry, jet fuel, pistachios, and foreign goods
If you’re looking for something tech-related, Newegg is a great place to start your search. This site has a great selection of tech products, including computers/laptops, computer hardware, TVs, home audio, gaming gear, and several other thorough categories. The prices tend to be good and the site is extremely well-rated when it comes to customer service. Newegg also offers user reviews and helpful sliders and drop-down menus to make your search results as accurate as possible.
Good for: tech products like computer hardware, laptops, home audio, and TVs
Moving away from the tech realm, Zappos is a great online-only retailer if you’re looking to buy clothing, shoes, or accessories for anyone in the family. The site offers a wide selection of everything from the latest shoe trends to outdoor-brand rain jackets, and you can buy worry-free thanks to the site’s legendary free shipping both ways policy. Everyone gets free shipping on purchases and also on returns if you aren’t satisfied with your item. Besides that winning shipping policy, Zappos also offers 365 days to return any purchase, so long as it’s in the same condition as when you received it.
Good for: shoes and clothing for men, women, and kids
Overstock offers a little bit of everything and is good for those who don’t mind doing a bit of hunting to snag a whopping deal. The site offers limited brands in some categories, but steep discounts if you do happen to find what you’re looking for. No matter what you’re shopping for, be it electronics, jewelry, curtains, or furniture, it’s a good idea to check out Overstock to see if you can find a deal. The other major plus of this site is that they offer a flat $2.95 shipping fee, no matter how large or heavy your order. Buying a couch and coffee table in the same order? Shipping will still only cost you $2.95. The site also has a rewards program and a Worldstock Fair Trade section with handcrafted items by artisans all over the world.
Good for: jewelry, furniture, other home goods
If you’re a photography buff and like to shop online, there is probably no better place to start (and likely end) your search than B+H Photo. The site offers a huge selection of nearly everything photo-and-video-related that you could imagine, and often has difficult-to-find products that may be out of stock elsewhere. The retailer also offers studio equipment, a/v gear, and home entertainment categories. Prices are always reasonable and we like that they even have a Used Store where you can find all kinds of gear for a sweet deal.
Good for: photo and video equipment, cameras, home entertainment
This retailer is one of our favorites when it comes to finding quality brands at serious discount prices. Sierra Trading Post offers everything from clothing and shoes to home decor and furnishings, but we’ve had the best luck getting good deals on outdoor gear like rain jackets and hiking boots from high-end brands like Marmot and Keen. The site boasts that everything is marked at a 35% to 70% discount every day, and from a quick perusal of the site we’d have to say that it’s an accurate figure. Sometimes sizes or color options are limited, but if you’re looking for a serious deal, Sierra Trading Post is a great place to hunt.
Good for: outdoor gear, shoes, home goods
This one isn’t exactly a budget-friendly pick, but if you’re a guy who likes high-style and prefers not to hunt too hard, Mr. Porter is a great resource. The retailer is something of a curated men’s shop with high-style picks from luxury brands like Dolce & Gabbana and Burberry and more affordable brands like J.Crew and Polo Ralph Lauren. The site has a selective offering, but that is intentional, aiming to create a small-shop vibe where you can’t go wrong with whatever you purchase. The site also offers interviews with dapper celebrities and helpful guides to what should be in your wardrobe.
Good for: high-end men’s clothing and accessories
Jenson is the place to go if you need anything for your bicycle. Seriously. No matter if your’e a hardcore trials rider, a freestyle BMXer, or you just commute on a road bike every day, Jenson has your back. Inside you can get everything from complete bicycle setups, to a single brake mounting bolt, to a handlebar heart rate monitor. Sure, there are tons of other bike supply shops on the web, but what sets Jenson apart is it’s massive selection and easy-to-navigate interface. It’s also got great customer service you can call if you’ve got a problem, and you can even live chat with somebody if you need help finding something or don’t know what your’e looking for.
Good for: bicycle parts, accessories, and gear
We just couldn’t write this article without mentioning ThinkGeek. Basically, they’re a hub for anything nerdy and awesome. Browse through their massive inventory and you’ll find stuff like geeky shirts and apparel, gadgets you didn’t know existed, techie toys, and a bunch of other stuff that defies classification. Their selection of items is a bit on the random side, but if you’re even the slightest bit nerdy you’ll be hard pressed to click through the site without finding something you want. It’s a great place to find gifts for people that are hard to buy for.
Good for: tech toys, anything with caffeine in it, quirky t-shirts, geek gear
We visit this helpful site whenever we are on the hunt for any kind of outdoor gear, from your typical necessary rain jacket to ski, snowboard, and hiking supplies. The site offers current high-quality items from brands like Patagonia, The North Face, and Mountain Hardwear as well as season-old selections from the same brands at great discounts. If you want a high-end ski jacket but don’t mind having last season’s color palette, head over to Backcountry and you might find yourself a deal.
Good for: outdoor gear for men and women
Multiple members of the Digital Trends staff contributed to this article.