More and more people are shopping from the comforts of home through the click of a button

Most of us love to shop. For some it is an addiction even. However, as much as we love shopping for even the most mundane of stuff, dressing up, stepping into the car, driving through the chaotic traffic, navigating through thronging shopping aisles and standing in line to pay the bill, can make one push the date to the shops for another day. And this long process involving a simple act of shopping could be a reason why people are starting to shop from the comforts of home.

If once, it was tele-shopping that was popular, the trend these days is to go online. From the latest CDs to the latest in fashion, everything is available on the Web at the click of a button.

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Books seem to be a favourite for online shoppers. From titles by obscure authors to the current bestsellers, there's a wide web of books online.

Says Neha Nair, member of rock band Avial: “There was this book I really wanted called Sold: Story of Modern Day Slavery. I checked various bookstores in various cities but it was not available. That was when I tried my luck online. Sure enough I got it. Now I shop for books online quite frequently.”

Television hostess Lekshmi Nair and her daughter, Parvathy Nair, frequent various online book stores too as does Brahada Shankar, programmes officer with Sense International (India). “You get the latest in fiction and non-fiction online. Some websites allow you to pre-order books, so you can get the book as soon as it hits the shelves. You get great deals too, if you search hard enough,” they say.

Sites that cater to clothes for men, women and children see regular hits too. However, one does have to be careful while shopping for outfits. Says Preethi S., a home maker: “I bought a couple of dresses for my daughter, which were perfect. But while shopping for myself I was disappointed. The colour of the salwar-kameez I bought was not like the shade shown in the picture and it had a small tear.”

And although she did get a new one, she could do nothing about the shade. But it is this ‘replacement guarantee' which brings customers online. Says software engineer Judy Varghese: “I bought a microwave on one of the shopping websites but it came with a tiny scratch on the side. I called up the call centre and a new scratch-free microwave came within a week. I didn't have to pay anything extra.”

Shopping for birthday gifts is also a piece of cake with certain websites offering combo deals such as a cake with a bouquet of roses, a box of chocolates with a cuddly teddy bear, and more. You can also choose from a wide range of gifting options from home furnishings to curios for the mantelpiece to even perfumes and jewellery. Those who are abroad can shop for their loved ones back home and vice versa. Says Alex John, who resides in the United Kingdom: “I bought a cake and a teddy bear for my mother who lives in the city recently. The site, as promised, delivered a black forest cake with a large teddy bear. My mother said that the cake was delicious.” Payment is mostly by credit and debit card but seeing the mistrust people have in divulging their credit card number and password online, some sites have started accepting cash on delivery (COD). In fact, more and more people seem to be logging onto sites that offer COD service. Says Preethi: “It is better to start off with COD and then move on to card payment once you are comfortable and satisfied with the site's service.”

So, get set to shop without dropping.

From the comforts of home

Couch potatoes are in for a treat as shopping for eats from the comforts of home is catching on in the city as local restaurants go online. Ambrosia (www.theambrosia.com) has its menu on its website where one can choose from the eatery's list of burgers, sandwiches, desserts and so on. Those who want cakes can search through Square One Talents' (www.squareonetreats.com) variety of cakes, while pizza lovers, instead of dialling for a pizza, can order one online at Dominos (www.dominos.co.in). While some orders are delivered at your doorstep, others (if the order is not within a certain radius from the restaurant or does not meet a minimum amount) will need you to go pick it up. For clothes, head to Fabindia (www.fabindia.com), which offers garments for men, women, and kids. You can also shop for home furnishings, personal care items and organic products on the site. Customers can go online for electronic goods at QRS (www.qrs.in) and Nandilath G. Mart (www.nandilathgmart), while Big Baazar (www.futurebazaar.com) delivers groceries at your doorstep.