20 Products You Should Always Buy Online
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Products You Should Always Buy Online

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20 Products You Should Always Buy Online
Jorge Villalba/istockphoto

The Box Stops Here

Shopping online is no guarantee that you're always going to get a cheaper price than you would at a bricks-and-mortar store. Depending on what you're buying, you still may pay less at a local retailer or a warehouse club, such as Costco or Sam's Club. But convenience is a selling point too. If delivery is free, offline price advantages can evaporate. Here are items that are cheaper online or discernibly more convenient to have shipped to your door — or both.


Related: 29 Things You Should Stop Buying in 2022

Books
Amazon

Books

Amazon started as an online bookseller, and books were the first product that was really popular to buy online. Naturally Amazon is the first place consumers are likely turn for online book bargains. The hardcover version of the best-selling "Astrophysics for People in a Hurry" by Neil deGrasse Tyson, for example, is a little over $9 on Amazon, compared with a list price of $19.


Related: The Bestselling Book on Amazon Every Year Since 1995

Kelloggs Cereal
Amazon

Breakfast Cereal

Cereal is something people, especially those with kids, buy often and in large, bulky boxes. The long shelf life makes online shopping an option. Cereal is a common offering in Amazon Fresh, where membership makes shipping free on orders that meet a minimum balance, which differs by region.


Related: 33 Things Not to Buy at Costco, Sam's, or BJ's

Printer Ink
Amazon

Printer Ink

You are unlikely to find a better deal on printer ink at a bricks-and-mortar store than online. There are lots of choices here, including the online storefronts of Office Depot and Staples along with dedicated printer-ink websites, which sell brand-name ink but also cheaper remanufactured cartridges (recycled brand-name cartridges) and compatible cartridges (made by third parties). Quality may be lower with off-brand cartridges.


Related: The Best Places to Buy Cheap Printer Ink Online

Tech Products
Amazon

Tech Products

Whether it's an extra cable for charging your smartphone or connecting your printer to your computer, or just a little bit of extra storage, it's typically a better deal online. Amazon has developed a massive online electronics section over the years and offers deals such as a 32GB flash drive for as low as $8. Shop in a store and you may get stuck choosing among a few products that could be listed near $18. 

Textbooks
Amazon

Textbooks

Students can save significant money and choose from a much larger inventory, including cheaper options such as used books, if they buy textbooks online. Amazon has a section devoted to textbooks. But it doesn't have the market cornered. Other leading sites include TextbookRush, eCampus, and Chegg.

Baby Clothes
Baby Mall Online

Baby Clothes

This is one type of clothes shopping that doesn't benefit from fitting rooms. And babies have limited patience for trips to the store, so there's a big convenience factor in buying online. Baby clothes also aren't expensive enough to worry too much about a package of them being left outside the door. 

Diapers
Amazon

Diapers

Buying diapers is one of those thankless tasks of parenting. Your baby isn't old enough to appreciate it, and you really don't want to run out of diapers. The good news is that consumers can buy them on a subscription basis — often at a discount — to guarantee a steady supply. For example, Amazon Prime members can save up to 15% when buying Amazon's Mama Bear brand diapers (size 6, 25 count) with a subscription.

Bulk Cleaning Supplies
Walmart

Bulk Cleaning Supplies

The experience of buying a favorite dishwashing detergent, window cleaning fluid, or floor cleaner in person doesn't really add a whole lot of value. Online, you can buy large refill sizes without having to heave them in and out of a cart and car. Windex glass and surface cleaner from Walmart costs $16.39 for a gallon jug and a 32-ounce spray bottle, or about 10  cents an ounce, and ships for free with a $35 minimum order, compared with $6.90 for two spray bottles at around 15 cents an ounce.

Contact Lenses
Walmart

Contact Lenses

There are a couple of important things to know about buying contacts online. The first is that you can order from a number of big online retailers (such as Walmart Contacts) at competitive prices. The second is that a valid, current annual prescription is required to make an order. Before reflexively buying contact lenses through an eye doctor, look online for savings.

Cookware Sets
Amazon

Cooking Equipment

Shopping for pots, pans, strainers, measuring cups, and other cooking implements online offers a far broader range of choice than even a major kitchen-supply store, and likely also a better deal. Amazon, for example, charges $80 for a 12-piece Cook N Home cookware set while a similar 13-pieces set from Cuisinart retails for $200 at Macy's on sale. The Amazon set qualifies for free shipping.

Exercise Equipment
Amazon

Exercise Equipment

A lot of exercise equipment is too big and heavy to have delivered to your door, and you'll likely want to try something like an elliptical machine in person before buying. But fitness accessories that might be heavy or cumbersome to bring home from a store often nonetheless ship for free with a minimum order online. For example, Amazon sells a highly rated kettlebell weight for a little over $13.

Makeup
Paula's Choice

Makeup

Online is the way to buy makeup if you have a set of products you always use and don't care to experiment with new shades or looks. You may also want to buy directly from the manufacturer — saving by cutting out the intermediary. Makeup health advocate and author Paula Begoun, for example, established her own brand and online store, Paula's Choice, and sells directly to the public.

Clothing Staples
Old Navy

Clothing Staples

For people who typically choose the same style of pants, shirt, and other basics and don't need to try them on, online shopping is a godsend. You save all the time you would have spent in stores, and probably some money, too. Old Navy, for example, sells regular men's jeans online at significantly off their usual price.

Pet Food
PetSmart

Pet Food

Pet food purchases don't usually vary a lot, and you can buy online in whatever quantity is the best value — without having to haul heavy bags yourself. If you buy a mainstream brand, head online to Target, Walmart, and other large retailers. For something more specialized, try a pet store. PetSmart.com selling 13-pound bags of Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Diets Dog Food for $42 and offers 35% off your first autoship order.

Beer and Sausage Sock
Happy Socks

Socks

Socks always seem like an incidental purchase. You're buying shoes, so you may as well get some more socks. Or you're stocking up on underwear, so you fill up the sock drawer as well. Online shopping affords an opportunity to give socks some more attention and have fun with them. Instead of making do with the basic choices from big retailers, why not try a sock specialist with panache, such as Happy Socks? Unlike clothing sizes, sock sizes aren't precise, so there's little concern about fit.

Vitamins and Dietary Supplements
GNC

Vitamins and Dietary Supplements

The biggest advantage here is choice and convenience. If you are a regular consumer of vitamins, it may be quicker and easier to stock up online. If you take less-common supplements, you'll have a broader range of choices. In some cases, you can go directly to the website of the vitamin or supplement maker. GNC, for example, offers an extensive range of vitamins under its own brand.

Cookware Sets
Zappos

Shoes

If you don't enjoy shoe shopping, or you want a lot of selection, head to an online shoe-shopping site such as Zappos. It pioneered the idea of free shipping and free returns, so you can return any shoes that don't fit, don't suit you, or just don't look as good on your feet as they did on the website. Zappos also has a free rewards program that offers expedited two-day shipping at no cost.

Sell Your Local Gift Cards
skodonnell/istockphoto

Gift Cards

Gift Card Granny shows where to buy gift cards online for less than face value — and who says a gift card has to be a gift? Shop at a discount by paying with gift cards at big-name retailers.

Luggage
monticello/shutterstock

Luggage

Shopping online for luggage is a wise move, and prices from big name stores such as Kohl’s and JCPenney can even be better on the web. Comparison shopping is easier, and you’ll be able to put online reviews to good use. You won’t have to lug any suitcases, either. There’ll be time enough for that on your trips.

Eyeglasses
Wavebreakmedia/istockphoto

Eyeglasses

If you have a simple eyeglass prescription, buying a pair of specs online can be a huge money saver. Some online vendors offer prices starting below $10, and others boast free shipping for returns. Plus the selection will be far wider than what you’ll likely find at a local optometrist’s shop. Check out Cheapism’s review of online eyeglass sellers to see which vendors are the best fit for you.


Find more money-saving tips right here.