Shopping is no longer confined to the local stores. You can access the world's market with just a click of a mouse…

Today you can buy things like books, CDs, DVDs, clothes, shoes, accessories, bath products, cosmetics, the latest gadgets, the oldest pieces of jewellery, paintings, bags and even your daily groceries online! Online shopping has expanded to the extent that you can even buy a trademark license for your brand with a website!

Shalaka, an 18-year-old online shopper says, “I love online shopping. It's extremely convenient and with the new cash-on-delivery option you don't even have to make unsafe transactions. Websites offer discounts, which is a huge bonus, as well as access to a larger variety of styles. The last thing I bought online was shoes and make-up. The shoes fit perfectly.”

Online shopping is best for gifting for a number of reasons:

There is a huge variety of products.

You can even get it gift-wrapped and shipped to the desired address.

You don't need to jump from one shop to the next or dawdle in a mall breaking your head over what to gift and return empty-handed.

Many brands that you find online even have customisable products, making it special.

One big advantage is that you have access to products that may not be available in India.

Online shopping isn't just for buyers. It's also a great platform for people who want to sell.

Young entrepreneurs

With the rise of online shopping the number of retailers online is growing quickly, too. Many see this as a hobby alongside a mainstream job. Web purchasing gives the label a much wider audience.

Online portals are a great medium for brands to test the waters, see what the response is like and then proceed with further expansion. For some it's even a stepping stone towards opening their own store. Many people with online products exhibit in and around the country. Online shopping is an effective way to be seen by the right audience, international and national, and to connect to them easily.

Mallika, a designer with Esenemes that largely retails online, says, “Online shopping enables you to interact with people from various cities and countries and effectively do business with them. The reach is so wide that, within 10 days, we had made ourselves known to a hundred people. We wouldn't have managed this if it weren't for web purchasing.”

Pros and cons

Pros:

It is available around the clock.

It saves time on travelling and fuel. (More money for shopping!)

Huge brands like Pottery Barn are now available because of online shopping and payment methods.

You can sit at home and relax and with just a few clicks can even buy your groceries and have them brought to your doorstep.

You can buy train tickets and plane tickets at a click.

Book your movie tickets first with online shopping. You can even buy your popcorn and sodas and have them brought to your seat when you buy your tickets. (How great is this?)

Shopping for gadgets is easier and more efficient with sites that narrow down the brands t and the features you require to compare models and find the perfect match for you.

No need to deal with any more persistent salesmen! (Phew.)

Buy music, movies and favourite TV shows.

Cons:

There's no guarantee that you'll get exactly what you see. Colours may look different in photographs and the finish may not be the same either as the retailer may have edited the image of their product.

There is the danger of paying for something and the order taking forever to reach you. (Or worse never reaching at all)

You have to be careful when shopping on sites like eBay as you may end up buying second hand stuff.

When buying clothes you may not be comfortable with the fit when you receive it and try it on. Shoes too have this problem.

‘Cash on Delivery' is always the best policy.

Make sure you read the return policy carefully; it might not be suitable sometimes.

Popular picks

Clothes

jabong.com: Want a wardrobe makeover? Check out www.jabong.com. Ethnic wear, casuals, shoes, accessories and sun glasses to beat the heat, you can find them all here. Choose from the best brands to go into the wardrobe.

myntra.com: A bit hard on cash, worry no more. There is a season sale to make it easy. Find popular brands at an affordable price and a wide variety to choose from for clothes and accessories.

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Books

crossword.in: An online book store built according to Indian likes. You can shop here by category or choose from the recently sold, best sellers and best sellers of the past year. To make it spicier there are seasonal sales for members.

landmarkonthenet.com: Landmark's online store is no different from their real stores in your nearby malls. You can buy all the books you want; you can add music CDs and movies to your shopping list. Games and gadgets are on offer too.

Across categories

amazon.com: Yes granted, you find everything here something that surprised me was the Android app store in the website. Amazon offers you the popular games from google play. The separate department Android 101 offers apps, phones and tablets with android OS. Amazon cloud drive gives 5GB space to add your digital and other files in it.

flipkart.com: You can find flipkart in websites other than flipkart.com. When you subscribe to them you can add their feature adding items to flipkart in your own website. Their new department is the beauty and spa section. There is also a section to download Mp3 songs from all popular genres and Indian languages.

ebay.in: Here you can find a myriad of products from floral dresses to headphones for a reasonable price. Choose from new, used and refurbished, “Buy it Now” or place bids to get a product at a fraction of the original selling price.

Gadgets

gadgetguru.com: Camcorders, digital cameras, home theater, home appliances, pens, laptops, LCD and Plasma TV, PDA and smart phones, MP3 players, software, pen drives are all available here. You can find branded laptops and accessories at reasonable prices here.

gadgets.in: Strike the best deals at the best price for the latest gadgets. Find it all here at reasonable prices and offers.

Music

cduniverse.com: Find CDs of all genres from classical to hip-hop. There is music of all times, from today's newly released albums to ones from your dad's teenage years. You can find your favourite music in vinyl records, DVD's and audio books.

saregama.com: Here is a website to find your favourite Indian artistes. There are songs from all Indian languages and you can dedicate these songs, embed the song or even set it as your ringtone. You are also at liberty to rate the songs.

Shraddha is a Grade XI student.