Tired of stumbling your way through the maze of the malls, trying to find that one store? Or the parking madness that you would hate to experience over the festive season and holidays?
As retailers become more and more aware of the potential value in online shopping, especially with lockdowns highlighting the importance of a digital presence, online shopping has never been as easy or as bountiful as now. However, with so much choice and freedom, it can be difficult to figure out where to begin looking.
To help get you started with online shopping, we’ve collected a list of the best online shops to safely browse for all your needs and wants.
General Online Retail
If there is something we are all jealous of in the United States, it’s the comprehensive online retail services offered by giants like Amazon. While we don’t have access to the ‘all you could ever want’ type of shopping available overseas, New Zealand has a few large general online retailers of its own that provide broad catalogues to shop from as well.
For the shopper who loves their brands, The Market offers a similar online shopping experience with strong connections to hundreds of well-known brands across a vast curated range of categories. Launched by well-known company The Warehouse Group, which most readers no doubt have physically shopped from before, it brings a powerful online retail offering under their umbrella. Rather than travel through an entire list of physical stores, The Market allows you to browse through local and international brands’ best offerings, providing a quick and efficient shopping experience. Additional features are on offer, such as instalment payment plans through Zip, as well as a free returns policy, which gives you more confidence to shop their extensive range. Pickup and returns are also made easy with many ‘Market Point’ sites in physical stores across the country where you can visit to pick up orders (saving you delivery fees) or return items. There is also the subscription-based Market Club which unlocks benefits such as free delivery as well as many exclusive promotions and deals, perfect for those who shop regularly and are looking to streamline their life.
With a clean and straightforward layout, MightyApe is another popular online retail company which provides a range of items that can match physical stores across many industries. With strong operations in Australia, it also offers many of its own in-house brand products across various categories to provide cheap alternatives. It has 21 distinct shopping departments to browse from the comfort of your own home, and provides many delivery options including the much-coveted overnight or same-day delivery options missing at other providers. Similar to physical stores, MightyApe also offers gift vouchers if picking a gift for someone proves too difficult, applicable across their entire range.
Consistency in electronics often makes shopping for them a task of finding the best prices for the best performance, regardless of the retailer. Thankfully, to streamline this process, many electronics retailers have collected their entire in-depth range onto online websites which synergise with their physical stores.
Known as New Zealand’s largest computer and IT retailer, PB Tech is a household name when it comes to buying electronics. Their online website offers the entire inventory across the nation, which is handy if your local store is small, and its detailed catalogue makes comparisons between different products incredibly easy. Given that many electronics are highly limited in stock, especially during promotions, shopping online and browsing the website lets you know what is available before-hand, and which store to visit if you wish to view products in person. With same-day delivery options available, as well as free delivery in many cases, PB Tech is a market leader for good reason.
Large competitor Noel Leeming offers much of the same benefits, in a much broader range of electronics covering not only IT but also whiteware, kitchen and home appliances, as well as photography and televisions. If you are looking for the biggest range of electronics on offer, you’ll be hard-pressed to beat Noel Leeming’s website. Customer care is also a big concern addressed, with Noel Leeming’s Service Protection Plan on offer alongside manufacturer warranties, a thorough return and exchange policy, as well as benefits such as FlyBuys points along with online purchases.
Other strong alternatives for online shopping include Australian based operators Dick Smith which operates exclusively in online retail in New Zealand, and JB Hi-Fi which has physical stores. Cross shop between different websites and make sure that you find the best price for the same products, and look for unique offerings from different retailers which may catch your fancy.
Looking for the next outfit to match the changing seasons, or to replace some clothes than have worn out their use? Online retail fashion is very common, whether it is from physically-based brands or from marketplaces exclusively operating online.
Popular fashion retailers with physical stores that also offer strong online shopping websites include Cotton On, Glassons, and Platypus Shoes, to name a few. If there is a brand or store that you want to buy from or visit in particular, a simple google search will usually bring up their online website if applicable, as most major brands offer online retail options. Take note that not all fashion retailers offer online shopping, however, such as the well-known H&M company or many smaller brands with few or single stores. Many people also have reservations about online shopping for clothes due to fitment; check the website or product pages for detailed information about clothing sizing and compare it with similar products offered in physical stores you can try on.
For a more comprehensive online shopping experience, specialist fashion retailers that only sell digitally exist as well. ASOS is a British online fashion and cosmetic retailer, which is a market favourite in New Zealand. It offers a huge range of fashion across many partnered brands ranging all the way from small niche brands to more high-end luxury brands such as Hugo Boss, as well as offering its own line of products. ZARA provides a similar online shopping experience, with regularly changing catalogues and fast fashion offerings otherwise not found in New Zealand. Australian competitor The Iconic is another great alternative for online shopping, with great customer support and a global range of brands to suit everyone. These online fashion platforms bring together a collection like no other, and take the hassle out of hunting for the next perfect outfit.
Unbeknownst to many, grocery shopping can also be simplified with online shopping, either through pre-purchase and a simple pick up at the store or through delivery options available. In fact, online grocery shopping is offered by many of our nation’s most familiar supermarkets, such as Countdown, New World and Pak’nSave. This also helps you keep track of prices, as well as how much is in your digital shopping cart so you can keep on top of expenses! Countdown and New World both offer delivery options for those who wish to avoid a physical visit, making them a great opportunity to save time.
Just like with supermarkets, many pharmacy chains also offer online shopping to streamline buying health products for those who know what they are looking for, or those who want to cross-shop. A top pick is Life Pharmacy, an online pharmacy operated by Unichem, which has extensive detailing and explanations of the products available to purchase. The Chemist Warehouse also offers an excellent platform to buy health supplies at cheap prices, and to research products you are considering.
Safety in online shopping
The largest concern with online shopping that many people have is the security and safety of their financial information when making payments on websites. At the minimum, check the top left corner of the address bar of a website to see if it has a lock icon, indicating that any information you input is secure and private (or if the address begins with ‘https’). Further information to help keep you safe online shopping can be found here.
Making big purchases online also brings worries about delivery safety; horror stories of damaged or missing items can be found all over the internet. As a consumer, you are protected by legislations such as the Consumer Guarantees Act 1993, with delivery providers such as NZ Post having cover for all items passing through them. Any damage or missing items will be replaced or refunded up to the cover limit of the delivery provider ($2000 for NZ Post courier delivery). More expensive items also come under warranties and guarantees offered by the manufacturer in case of damage, and almost all large online shopping websites have their own policies regarding damage or loss of ordered items.
Ensuring your expensive purchases are covered under your Contents insurance is important. Theft, accidental damages, fire, and other unexpected events can be devastating and expensive. Contents insurance helps to take away most of the financial pain. Check that your existing Contents policy sufficiently covers your new purchase. Managing this and all your other insurance policies is made easy with Quashed — take control of all your insurances on one simple online platform. As a bonus, take advantage of the feature where you can select the credit card you have and it shows you the Insurance Benefits that comes with the card on your own insurance dashboard. You'd be surprise that some of the insurance benefits credit cards offer such as Extended warranty and Purchase Protection comes in handy for purchases whether it's online or buying in the good old way - in-store. Check out Quashed.
When shopping centres are crowded with people this Christmas, take the stress out of shopping and finding parking, and consider online retail therapy as a simple way to find exactly what you were looking for, or be surprised by a great bargain. The experience will likely not disappoint, so take a seat and get browsing without having to worry about social distancing!