20 June 2008

Contest 6 Launches: Win a $250 Gift Card!

Contest 6 is officially underway.  Thank you so much to the participants in the past five contests.  The turnout and quality of work has been terrific.

To enter the contest, simply create a design, save it, and tag it “Contest 6″.  It’s complete free and surprisingly simple.

The dollar amount of the prize package has been upped to $250, which is now given away as a Customized Girl Gift Certificate.  Your design will also be featured in US Weekly Magazine.

Hurry, Contest 6 ends July 16th!

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If you’ve never saved a design before, here’s a quick lesson:

Choose any piece of apparel from one of our many categories (we recommend Her Tops and Undies). In the Design Center you can add text, clipart, and your own images. Everything is adjustable, so feel free to experiment with the text styles, colors, sizes, etc.

Most importantly, be sure to save your design once you’re finished. Just click the save button in the Design Center, which looks like this:

SaveToGallery

(If you’re not already logged in, you’ll have to log in or create an account at this point. Don’t worry it’s super easy and takes 5 seconds.)

On the next page name your design, choose the first tag from the drop down menu, and add “Contest 6” as an additional tag.

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Be sure to leave your Share Option as “share”. Then click “Save” and you’re done!

*You must be 18 years old to claim your prize.

*Enter as many times as you want. You do not have to purchase your design to be entered into the contest. Thanks so much for participating and good luck!

Past contest winners:

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20 June 2008

Congratulations to the Winner of Contest 5!

Congrats to jennachloe for winning Customized Girl’s Fifth Design Contest! She wins $200 and her design will be featured in the July 3rd issue of US Weekly.

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She designed a very cool tank top. We particularly love the use of the dice as a symbol for the number “10″. We didn’t even notice that ten was showing on the dice until jennachloe created this design. Very clever.

In addition to this awesome tank top, we have to give respect to jennachloe for the seemingly infinite number of clever, interesting, funny, and cute designs she has submitted to each contest over the last few months.  All of them have been excellent, and there were definitely more than one that could have been the winner.

And thanks once again to the other entries as well.  There was an incredible amount of talent on display for Contest 5, and we hope to see the same for Contest 6.

Speaking of Contest 6, it is officially launched!

PLEASE NOTE: We’re upping the dollar value to $250, but instead of cash, the winner will be earning a $250 gift card to CustomizedGirl.com.  Now you can purchase all of your favorite designs from the contests and keep them for yourself or use them as excellent gifts.

Hurry, contest 6 ends on June 16th!

The contests are now on a monthly schedule. A new winner is announced in the middle of every month. As soon as a winner is announced, the next contest begins.

The winner should appear in US Weekly two Fridays after the announcement.

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18 June 2008

The Penny-Pinchers Toolkit: 100 Money Saving Tips for Online Shoppers

Online shopping is the way to go for consumer looking for convenience and efficiency. What could be easier than sitting in your own living room, picking out a new TV from the comfort of your recliner? But aside from this convenience, online shoppers get a benefit that brick-and-mortar shoppers don’t – great deals and discounts. Shopping online allows for simple and quick price comparisons between different merchants on virtually any product and retailers often offer promotions to their online customers that aren’t available in the store. Here are some great resources that will help you save money and gas.

Price Comparison Websites

Websites that allow you to compare prices on multiple items are helpful for a variety of reasons. First, they allow you to get a good sense of the product’s price range in just a few seconds. You’ll know the higher end of the price range, the lower end, and where to get the best deal. These sites also help you determine if you can save money by ordering the product online or if you’d be better off driving to a local store. Always do your research before you buy.

  1. BizRate.com: BizRate is a great place to get price comparisons on a number of different products. Whether you are looking for a television set, men’s clothing or even just a pair of sunglasses, Biz Rate has the 411 you need to get a great deal. They claim they compare prices for items sold by “anyone, anywhere.”
  2. PriceGrabber.com: Like BizRate, PriceGrabber compares a plethora of household items, appliances, and electronics. You can even check out the price differentials on music instruments. Call them the superstore of the internet, their “Bottom Line Calculations” approach allows consumers to compare the final total from each site – including shipping and handling.
  3. Shopzilla.com: The parent company of BizRate.com, Shopzilla’s most attractive feature is it’s simple, modern design and easy searchability. The home page features lots of shortcuts to find the best deals of the moment. Shoppers also post reviews about each deal, so you know which vendor boast the most customer satisfaction.
  4. DealTime.com: Like its competitors, DealTime offers consumers price comparisons on just about any product you can imagine. It’s database includes information from thousands of online and big box merchants and customer reviews. The site even calculates the tax and shipping costs of ordering from a specific vendor.
  5. Shopping.com: The parent company of DealTime, Shopping.com is owned by eBay and conducts international searches of different product comparisons. Like DealTime, its site is a bit barebones, but very easy to navigate. Shopping.com boasts the world’s largest product catalog and is consistently in the top 10 Internet destinations globally.
  6. Kaboodle.com: The product comparison site for the more trendy and modern-minded shopper, Kaboodle goes beyond big box store items and allows users to search for products even on sites like Etsy, a merchant system for individual designers. Kaboodle also incorporates a good amount of social networking into its interface design, allowing shoppers to chat with friends and fellow shoppers, post reviews, and create profiles. Find the hippest, cheapest products on this site.
  7. Jellyfish.com: Owned by Microsoft, Jellyfish.com offers a truly innovative approach to Internet shopping by allowing shoppers to set the prices of products through an interactive system. Its signature approach is called “Smack Shopping,” named, appropriately, after a group of jellyfish. Smack Shopping is an online auction show run through the web site that allows shoppers to bid on products within a certain time frame. Auctioneers never disclose how many products are up for auction, and the prices drop second by second. It’s a new, fun way to set about finding a discount.
  8. Roboshopper: If you have ever used SideStep.com to purchase a plane ticket, then you will be familiar with the model employed by Roboshopper. Instead of searching for deals through standard discount sites, Roboshopper searches for deals by searching other price comparison sites and then redirects you to the vendor wit the best prices. It’s a valuable service that will save you a lot of leg work and maximize your efficiency.
  9. Froogle: Froogle is what Google termed its own price comparison service. It’s a Beta system that’s as simple and thorough as Google itself. Type in what you’re looking for and Froogle will pull up a variety of brands, giving a price range and number of stores or online locations the product is available from.
  10. NexTag: One of the more popular price comparison sites, NexTag offers shoppers the ability to not only compare prices for a new blender, but also prices for plane tickets, travel packages, financial services, and real estate. It has consistently been named one of the world’s fastest growing companies by several publications, including Inc., 500, and it also has sister sites in the UK, Germany, and France. NexTag’s comprehensive service boasts 17 million users each month.
  11. Yahoo! Shopping: Most of the major search engines offer price comparison services, but one of the most popular is Yahoo! Shopping, mostly for it’s comprehensive approach. Not only can you easily search for and find discounted products, but Yahoo! has teamed up with distributors so it’s able to offer shoppers coupons and extra discounts on its site. You can choose to shop by brand, by store, or simply by what’s available in the coupon center.
  12. mySimon.com: Now owned by CNET, mySimon.com got off to a big start when it launched several years ago. It’s one of the foremost product comparison sites out there mainly because it caters to the serious discount shopper with a number of features, like a periodic newsletter, column describing the most popular items purchased, RSS feed that consistently updates subscribers about the latest deals. The site also offers links to consumer reports right off its home page.
  13. Pricesbolo.com: This fast-working price comparison site is based in India and is one of the fastest growing price comparison services in that country. One of Pricesbolo’s best features is that it serves the consumer by working more closely with the sellers. Sellers and merchants who agree to drop their prices even further will benefit from having Pricesbolo drive more traffic to their businesses. It also rates the merchants in your area so you know which are the most reliable.
  14. PriceRunner: PriceRunner was founded in 1999 and now has sites in several languages and countries. Retailers can pay the site to include them on product searches, but PriceRunner also includes deals from non-paying merchants. You’ll be able to tell them apart by whether or not the merchant’s logo is included in the advertisement. While there’s nothing fancy about PriceRunner, it’s a reliable and efficient service.
  15. Become.com: A somewhat strange name for a price comparison website, but nevertheless it is a great, user-friendly site. Become.com offers easy searching for shoppers and lets them zoom into the kind of information they want to hear about each product. For example, if you are looking for a new stereo, you’ll be able to compare competitive prices, as well as click on user reviews, customer forums, or published consumer reports. You can also create a profile through the site that will allow you to interact with other users. Become.com also has a philanthropic component, allowing you to donate to a featured nonprofit from its homepage.
  16. AOL: Similar to Froogle, AOL’s shopping site turns simple searches into a wealth of information. Type in the product and it will turn up a host of results with price ranges from multiple vendors. You can also access great deals through AOL’s coupon portal, keep up with the newest products, and read articles posted on the shopping blog.
  17. MSN: Again, this is another service available from a popular search engine provider. MSN Shopping allows for price comparisons on over 33 million products in its database. You can also get tips on how to purchase certain items from MSN’s shopping gurus, access coupons, and read about the latest deals. If you’re a person who has trouble making a decision, this site’s helpful advice tools will be an attractive option for you.
  18. DealOz.com: Are you a movie buff? Are your DVD spending habits getting a little out of control? Then this is the site for you. DealOz.com compares prices on any and all DVDs available. So what if the list price is $30; DealOz will find it for half that, at least.
  19. Reseller Ratings: This site is interactive for both shoppers and merchants, and aside from a running blog advertising the latest deals on its homepage, Reseller Ratings lets users rate both products and merchants. Owners of the site claim it’s most attractive feature is reviews by “real people.” Subscribe to the site’s RSS feed to stay on top of the latest and greatest deals available minute by minute.
  20. Pricewatch: Established in 1995, this somewhat minimalist site lets computer shoppers compare and contrast prices on technologies from multiple vendors. The site also offers users up-to-date technology news on hardware, software and games.

Coupon Code Sites

Most of us probably received our first lesson in discount shopping techniques from our dear, old coupon-clipping grandmothers and mothers. But in the age of eco-friendly behavior, it’s time to shun the tree-destroying Sunday circulars for more accessible and efficient vouchers. There’s hundred of websites out there devoted to the world of coupons — check out these helpful sites that allow you to apply deals to products found online.

  1. RetailMeNot.com: RetailMeNot is a cute and highly useful coupon code site that features up-to-the-minute deals from all of the major retailers out there. Save 25 percent on a book from Borders or 30 percent off your purchase from Ann Taylor. Expiration dates are prominently displayed, and the site also puts out a weekly newsletter about the latest deals.
  2. Fat Wallet: One of the more popular and user-friendly coupon sites, Fat Wallet offers tons of discounts and coupons and employs the “cash back” incentives so popular among many coupon sites these days. Cash back incentives work like this: purchase a product with a site’s coupons and you’ll get cash back on your purchase. That’s because some coupon websites get commissions from retailers for driving traffic to their site.
  3. CouponCabin.com: Coupon Cabin is a well-organized site that let’s you easily find the most popular coupons available or search for deals with specific retailers. Coupons are categorized by expiration date and the site even has a section devoted entirely to coupons on the verge of expiring, so you won’t ever miss a deal.
  4. CouponCode.com: Coupon Code is another highly popular and highly useful coupon site, which has all the features any shopper would need to keep track of the best coupon deals available. Not only can you create an account where you can save coupons you want to use in the future, but the site also allows shoppers to compare prices and kill two birds with one stone.
  5. CouponCodes4u.com: This site is for the serious shopper who is looking for daily deals. Its system is based on its user population – resourceful shoppers who collect rebate codes and coupons and email the codes into the folks who run the site. Register with this site and you’ll get alerted each time a new deal pops up.
  6. CouponHeaven.com: Another useful site that combines all of its deals into a simple and easy-to-use interface that doesn’t overwhelm shoppers with flashing ads and messages. While the site does offer a “Featured Deals” section on its homepage, it really puts most of the onus on the user to know what they’re looking for and conduct a search, either by merchant, category, or brand name.
  7. CouponChief.com: With Coupon Chief, you will never have to worry that your coupons are out of date. It is updated daily and organized into a user-friendly format. At the very top, shoppers will find featured deals for the very day they’re shopping and then right below the most recently-added coupons are listed, as well as all of the coupons expiring that day.
  8. CouponShack.com: A well-designed and easy to use site, CouponShack has a frequently updated blog, staff recommended deals, and discounts that apply to a variety of products. Aside from products found in big box stores, look to this site for grocery coupons, travel deals, and discounts on financial services. Also be sure to check out their Deal of the Day.
  9. CouponCactus.com: Aside from offering over 2,000 coupons daily, CouponCactus has even more incentives for shoppers. By registering with the site and helping to spread the word about the discounts offered, you can earn a commission. Every time someone uses a coupon from your referral, you’ll get a percentage of the sale.
  10. CurrentCodes.com: CurrentCodes.com knows that shoppers don’t want to waste their time searching coupon sites only to find that all of the deals listed have already expired. Their full-time staff spends all day every day updating their information and making sure you have the most relevant and timely coupons at your fingertips. The site isn’t flashy, but it’s easy to use and definitely useful.
  11. CouponAlbum.com: True to its name, Coupon Album offers coupons on everything imaginable, from actual products to travel to coupons that just cover shipping costs. One of the great features of its site is that listed with each coupon is an accompanying list of current sales offered by retail outlets that don’t require coupons. The site also maintains several user forums, though none are very heavily utilized.

Blogs

Shopping is a popular topic, not just for adolescent girls, but anyone with a credit card and a moderate amount of disposable income. Sure comparison sites and coupon codes are great, but sometimes you really need a personal voice to help you find what you’re looking for and locate the best price. Which is why these blogs about discount shopping are great resources to check in on periodically for the latest news from folks who make knowing about shopping their bread and butter.

  1. The Budget Fashionista: This blogger’s mantra is “Be Fabulous for Less,” and its thorough content and plethora of deals is a God send for any girl who wants to stay in style without blowing their budget. This blog is so successful, in fact, its founders even wrote their own book about how to shop on a dime. Content includes not only burgeoning fashion lines, but readers get access to coupons and up-to-the-minute information on all the latest sales. The blog also maintains an active forum so readers can communicate with each other about other deals they’ve found.
  2. Gretchen’s Closet: This fun blog is heavily headline driven with deals galore. Not only does this blog keep you up to date on all the fashion trends – even the ones you can’t afford – it has more coupons than one shopper could hope to find in a single spot. There’s also a frequently-updated section about all the latest and greatest sales available online.
  3. Cheap Laptops: This U.K.-based blog is an excellent resource for those of you in the market for a cheap laptop computer. The laptop-per-day approach means there’s lots of information to be found, even if you will have to do a little price conversions to figure out prices in American dollars. Search by brand or sign up for periodic updates.
  4. Ebates: Ebates is an “online mall” that profits from commissions whenever its readers click and buy from one of their links. Therefore, the maintainers of this blog have a real incentive to keep shoppers informed of the best savings. To get more shoppers to participate in shopping through Ebates, the bloggers even offer shoppers a “cash back” incentive – forking over a percentage of their commission to the folks who helped them earn it!
  5. Infomercials TV: You won’t find any coupons on this blog, but you will find a great round-up of all those discount, too-good-to-be-true products you’ve probably seen on TV infomercials. Infomercials often offer viewers excellent discounted rates for buying over the phone, but how do you know the products work? This blog allows for readers to post comments and disclose their own research, helping you make a more educated decision.
  6. The Bargainist: The ultimate discount shopper’s guide, The Bargainist leaves no stone unturned in its quest for the cheapest products on earth. Heck, one entry even notified readers about a Krispy Kreme promotion for a single free donut. Chock-full of coupons, this blog is updated so frequently it will make your head spin. Recently, bloggers posted 10 entries before the clock even struck Noon.
  7. Save, Save, Save: A very purple blog maintained by a U.K.-based woman who decided to start a blog after realizing that her own online shopping experiences were often times pretty humorous. Admittedly, this blog seems to have strayed from its initial purpose, as most entries fall in the category of random diatribes and non-shopping related topics. However, it’s still worth a look, since the blogger has compiled a pretty extensive list of other blogs – some of which deal with discount shopping.
  8. Deals, Coupons & Bargain Guides: Not a very catchy name, but this blog will surely catch the eye of bargain shoppers in the market for some cheap electronics and computer equipment. Updated several times each day, this blogger scours the Internet for the best technology deals and then brings them to his readers free of charge.
  9. Ransacker: Ransacker is a blog run out of the U.K. that is dedicated solely to price comparisons on various different running shoes. This blog is one that should be bookmarked by athletes or athletic-shoe aficionados. Again, you’ll have to break out your exchange-rate calculator, but if you’re looking for cheap shoes that can be ordered online this blog is a great, current resource.
  10. Coupon Codes Mall: A blog that doubles as a coupon code site, bloggers post multiple entries a day about the latest coupon codes and go one step further to educate readers about the product and the deal. It also offers links to tons of other coupon sites and allows readers to join a mailing list, as well as read product reviews.
  11. Shop with a Vengeance: With the exception of uber-rich celebs like Madonna and Paris Hilton, most of us don’t know what it’s like to march into a store and throw every item we encounter into a basket. Rather than shopping with a vengeance, we shop with a calculated timidity. That’s why this blog is so liberating – find great deals and fill your virtual cart without worrying about going into debt. Check out, specifically, the “Bargain Finds” section.
  12. Buy Better and Have a Better Life: It’s a mouthful of a title, and it’s not the most straightforward of all discount shopping blogs. But this blogger does manage to sneak in a fair helping of information about product deals and current sales. The blog is kept current, and in addition to talking about ways to save when shopping this blogger conducts personal product reviews and also writes about ways to live better holistically.
  13. eDaily Shop: A busy blog that focuses on deals to be found when purchasing electronics, DVDs, computers, and other technologically-advanced items. The fact that the site is powered by a Google search engine is a good thing, since there is so much information to take in. Each product post comes with a review, and readers can also quickly search the sites archives for past reviews.
  14. Frugal Fanny: Not so much a discount finder as a blog dedicated to helping discount shoppers live within their tiny budgets. This blogger gives readers useful tips for how to live well on a budget and take advantage of the discounts that are widely available. It’s not updated daily, though, so think of it more like light reading to peruse in between your purchases.
  15. Giveaway of the Day: This blog, updated daily, is a great find for computer geeks and software developers looking for the latest technology deals. Each day, the bloggers give away a new program or other application. The blog often notifies readers of giveaways in advance, so you can be sure to check the site on the day. Also, the blog features a pretty active forum.
  16. Everybody Loves Coupons: This is a quirky blog maintained by the folks over at UltimateCoupons.com, which features a daily blog on topics ranging from Indiana Jones to Violence vs. Nudity. What’s the connection to online shopping, you ask? Each blog entry is followed by a few great promotional coupons. The blogger also maintains a current list of freebie items up for grabs. Find deals and be entertained at the same time.
  17. Real Looks for Real Women: Oprah would love this blog. It offers great fashion tips for all women, as well as links and reviews to the latest fashions from affordable designers. Staying in style this season doesn’t mean sacrificing your savings anymore.

Articles

Online discount shopping has become such a phenomenon that it’s even newsworthy. Every major newspaper and magazine has covered the topic at one time or another, studying its growth in popularity. These are stories that retailers pay attention to, since online sales have become such a large percentage of their overall profit. Here’s a round-up of some great articles that will help you educate yourself more thoroughly on the topic.

  1. Benefits and Advantages of Shopping Online: A helpful article written by the folks at Coupon Codes Mall. This article discusses the flexibility and the ease that online shopping offers shoppers in comparison to retail outlets. Short and sweet, this article make a good case for utilizing your computer more in your quest for earthly goods.
  2. Shopping & Selling Online: Author Richard Seltzer covers everything anyone would need to know about both buying and selling items online in this 10-chapter article. Get a great overview of the benefits of using the internet for your shopping needs, while also learning how to use search engines to find the best sites. Want to make a buck or two while you’re at it? Consult Seltzer’s chapters on posting your own goods for sale.
  3. 8 Top Sites for Online Shopping Deals: An article by MSN Money writer Jennifer Mulrean, which chronicles the best sites for finding product deals. These sites range from general online retailers to sites that offer shopper discounts and coupons.
  4. New York Times: The Times published an article last year, which pointed to the decline in online sales in some markets. But the decline was also thought to be the result of the fact that with Internet sales reaching over $116 billion in 2007, it was difficult for retailers to keep up with the previous growth trends in online revenue. Some retailers, like Dell, who were strictly into online sales have even started hocking their wares in brick-and-mortar establishments.
  5. Safety Tips: When shopping online, the consumer is frequently entering highly private information. Aside from credit card numbers, there is also the home address and phone number. This quick article discusses some general tips to keep in mind so your identity and finances will stay secure.
  6. Consumers Buy Into Online Shopping: A good article that precedes the NYT’s article about the slowing down of Internet shopping. This article, written in 2005, chronicles the boom of online shopping and it’s growth during the first few years of the decade.
  7. Shopbot Article: An informative summary found on MoneySavingExpert.com, which defines shopbots and rates the best ones. A shopbot can be defined as any price comparison website that allows consumers to compare and contrast before making a choice, such as PriceGrabber. The article also has useful information on cash-back sites, or those which return a commission to the shopper for buying through their promotions.
  8. 10 Reasons Not to Shop Online: As a comparative shopper, you should always be in the market for the contrarian point of view. This article about why people shouldn’t shop online plays the perfect devil’s advocate. Most arguments are unconvincing, though it’s hard to argue that privacy issues cease to be a big concern when exchanging cash for goods in person.
  9. Marketing Myth: A great Business Week article that seeks to dispel the myth surrounding “Cyber Monday.” That’s the Monday after Thanksgiving that is said to be the biggest online shopping day of the year. Business Week reporters find that it only ranks 12th.
  10. Translating Digital Body Language: An interesting article from The Washington Post that examines the psychology of shopping online and how the lack of a face-to-face sales pitch can lead shoppers to abandon their items before purchasing them. New companies are sprouting up that help online retailers tailor pitches and deals to an individual shopper’s interests to help increase the percentage of sales that actually go through.
  11. Online Shopping Doesn’t Always Deliver: An article from the Wall Street Journal in which a columnist laments the shipping costs and other hassles involved in online shopping. This is an author with the opinion that shopping online doesn’t really save time after all.
  12. Online Shopping with Froogle: Many Internet users swear by Google and its many, many applications. If you are one of those people, than this is the article for you. It’s a straightforward look at the ins, outs and benefits of Google’s shopping portal, Froogle.
  13. Flaws of Online Shopping Cart Design: An especially informative, if not overly academic, article from the Usability News, which discusses the main flaws of online shopping cart designs. Average shoppers should probably skip this one, unless you’re purposely looking to kill some time. But online retailers and those of you looking to start your own e-commerce business may find it helpful.
  14. Allowing In-Store Returns: A short article that makes a solid point. Recently, a study by Ispos MORI found that more people would shop online if the retailer would allow items purchased electronically to be returned in local stores. Seems like a no-brainer, especially for retailers looking to keep their online sales up.
  15. Safe Online Holiday Shopping: PC World put out this helpful article in 2006. The holidays are, obviously, the biggest time for online shopping, which means they’re also the biggest time for scammers and hackers who want to get their criminal hands on your credit card information. Check out these tips for safe Internet shopping.
  16. Phone Shopping: This CNN article covers a recent study released by Cisco, Inc., which identifies the mobile phone as being the next big channel for commerce. With more and more smart phones coming onto the market, shoppers can access the Internet anytime, anywhere. Shopping can now be done from the subway, in class, or surreptitiously at work.
  17. Peak Online Shopping Hours: eMarketer.com is a great website with lots of informative white papers and articles about e-commerce. This one helps dispel the myth that online shoppers are all insomniac computer addicts who spend the dark hours of the night running up their credit card bills. Turns out, peak shopping hours occur during the workday.
  18. Security: “Is Online Shopping Ever Secure?” That’s the title of this article, which begs to ask the same question. Reporters conclude, actually, that with all of the hacking technologies available these days it is hard to ever truly know if a transaction is completely secure, no matter what the seller promises.
  19. Pricing Alerts: Want to know just how you are getting access to so many fantastic deals through so many fantastic deal-delivering websites? Here’s an informative summary of how online coupons come to be and how they are processed on the retailer’s end.
  20. Shopping with Kinset: With the launch and popularity of virtual online worlds like Second Life, web developers are entering a whole new world of technology. Take for example Kinset, a 3D virtual environment that recreates a store’s physical interior for online shoppers. This blogger questions if it will be the new wave of online shopping.
  21. Shipping Fees as Deterrant: A recent study commissioned by PayPal found that most shoppers abandon their orders during the last phase of the checkout process because of the high shipping fees. This helpful article details other findings in the study, which looked specifically at why online shoppers back out of their orders before finalizing the sale.

Forums

It’s great to get all of this information about online shopping from blogs, websites, and the media, but what if you have actual questions you’d like to ask? Shopping forums are abundant online and allow shoppers to have interactive conversations with other buyers and sellers, so you can ask questions and get multiple opinions and answers within a matter of seconds. Check out these shopping forums and start making some like-minded friends.

  1. Epinions: Epinions is one of the foremost consumer review sites on the web. Owned by Shopping.com, Epinions has thousands of members who post product reviews and assist one another in the comparative shopping process. It’s a great, thorough, and highly-usable forum for discount online shoppers.
  2. Smarter.com: It’s a forum, it’s a blog, it’s a price comparison website all rolled into one! While many websites offer consumers all three of these features, Smarter.com is one of the more fun sites to peruse. You can also sell your items online – becoming a merchant is easy with this user-friendly interface.
  3. Dealighted: Find coupons and customer forums on the best deals all in one spot on this handy site. The forums section boasts 4,500 members, all of which are extremely active. Compare “Hot Deals”, find “Free Stuff” or just chat with fellow shoppers.
  4. Slick Deals: Slick Deals is a huge online forum with minute-by-minute postings from its hundreds of members. Members are constantly posting online coupons, information about rebates or just simply chatting about the latest videogames or lending each other technical assistance.
  5. Deal of Day: Not the most attractive site out there, but Deal of Day is certainly a useful one. With some forum categories boasting over 100,000 posts, this site is thick with information for the discount shopper. It’s a great way to make friends, too. Check out the General Discussion section and chat religion with the guy you met in Rebates.
  6. My Coupons: My Coupons is – you guessed it! – both a coupon code site and a shopper’s forum. Users can post pictures of themselves and entries about their latest saves. A great resource for the most frugal of shoppers.
  7. Deal Hunting: A comprehensive discount site with coupons, blogs and a highly popular forum. Don’t expect to get too off topic here, though. Most discussion boards are dedicated solely to shopping.
  8. Travel Notes: When searching for travel deals, especially, you’ll want to learn about others’ experiences when they traveled to your desired destination. Travel Notes lets wanderlusts compare notes about traveling on the cheap with an active forum.
  9. Tech Bargains: Technology is expensive – especially computers and other savvy gadgets. That’s why the forum at TechBargains.com is so great for both the experienced and the novice alike. Users post about tech products, but they also post about savings on everyday stuff, like groceries.
  10. Big Boards: Big Boards is a simple bulletin-board site that offers forums in multiple categories. The shopping forum has several different categories and links even to forums on other coupon and price comparison websites. It’s a diverse community of chatters, and definitely worth a browse.
  11. eShop Forums: A terrific message board and forum dedicated to those of you who actually run your own ecommerce site or are planning to start one. Here you’ll find great conversations and tips on the best software packages to support your business, as well as the best shopping cart providers to use. They even let you shamelessly plug your business on one thread.
  12. Motortrend: While the Motortrend forum deals specifically with, you guessed it, cars and trucks, there are some chats that deviate from that tradition. Regardless, vehicle shoppers will find all the information they need to make an informed decision on just about every make and model out there. Even find out how to negotiate for the best deals.
  13. Hub Pages: Hub Pages is an online community where people can create profiles and join forums dealing with just about any topic. Thankfully, there’s one dedicated solely to discount shopping. It’s free to join and publish your own thoughts, but even if you don’t want an account, you’re able to read what others have already posted.

Discount Shopping Sites

Discount shopping sites are plentiful on the Internet. Just think of all the discount stores out there that you can physically drive to in your vehicle. Most all of them have online components, and several of those retailers offer extra incentives to online customers that aren’t available to people in their brick-and-mortar shops. But there are also several discount shopping sites that can be considered “virtual stores” since they don’t have a retail outlet. Here are some of the most popular discount shopping sites consumers flock to on the web.

  1. Amazon: When Amazon first got it’s start on the web in 1995 it was in a class of its own. Though its main attraction was, at first, its extensive supply of discount books, Amazon soon expanded its focus to include all sorts of consumer products, like electronics, DVDs, and home appliances. Today it is one of the web’s most booming discount shopping sites, and it’s even formed some impressive alliances with other discount retailers.
  2. Overstock: Like Amazon, Overstock.com has a big warehouse somewhere where few consumers have actually gone. Its business model is built on acquiring overstocked items from other retailers at a heavily discounted price and then marking it up a bit for the average consumer. While the business is best known for its impressive furniture and jewelry offerings, it, like Amazon, has also expanded into other area, like electronics and clothing.
  3. eBags.com: Looking for cheap luggage? Look no further than eBags.com, which claims to be the world’s largest online discount bag retailer. They carry over 500 brands and offer a plethora of online discounts.
  4. Smart Bargains: These guys have deemed themselves “Your personal bargain hunter” for all of the deals they find. Set up as an online marketplace, the site gets its competitive prices much like Overstock does – by purchasing canceled orders, overstocks, and closeouts from big manufacturers at rates that can’t be beat. They then turn around and pass those discounts off to shoppers.
  5. Pricemad: Pricemad is an online discount site that frankly hasn’t received the best reviews in the customer service department. Do your research before placing any big ticket items with them, but their site can be helpful from a comparison standpoint. Pricemad focuses largely on electronics and computers.
  6. Netmarket: Netmarket offers its shoppers discounts on items from cameras to swimming pools precisely because it doesn’t stock anything. It simply forwards your order onto one of its subsidiary vendors and the item is shipped from there. It’s inventory is somewhat limited, however, to household items and outdoor appliances.
  7. Best Buy: If you live in the suburbs of a major city, chances are you have a Best Buy on nearly every street corner. But most people don’t know that Best Buy is also one of the top 10 websites for e-commerce traffic. Perhaps it’s because extra deals are available to shoppers online through the store’s web-based outlet center.
  8. Label Spree: Save up to 75 percent on designer clothing labels by shopping through Label Spree. Shop by label or by season on this site and get the latest fashions for a fraction of what you would pay in the store. From Betsey Johnson to Antik Denim, Label Spree lowers prices on items continuously throughout the day and is able to offer the prices it does because it sells only out-of-production garments. You can also sign up to receive alerts when the price on the item you want starts dropping.
  9. Bluefly: Like Label Spree, Bluefly offers heavy discounts on designer clothing. The company formed in 1998 and sells the latest discounted designer items at about 40 percent off the retail price. One of the best features? Customers can chat live online with personal shoppers for advice on the latest looks.
  10. Fashion Bliss: Similar to Bluefly and Label Spree, fashionistas with small checking accounts can get the same look Julia Roberts sports for a fraction of the price. It’s not clear how Fashion Bliss secures the discounts they do, but they do say this about their stock: “Our fabulous items come from a variety of sources and we carry only the highest quality products. Each and every piece is selectively hand picked by our fabulous team of buyers while traveling around the continent and the globe in search of the latest and greatest fashions to share with YOU.”
  11. Target: Everyone knows about the wondrous styles and prices available at Target. And while it’s probably easy for most of us to get in our cars and drive to the closest retail outlet, you can find some extra deals online, including free shipping of some items over a certain amount, as well as coupons.
  12. eCost.com: eCost.com is one of the best online discount warehouses out there, specializing in computer hardware, software, and electronics. They say their most unique characteristic is the fact that they keep the customer in mind at all times and have customer service representatives online to help with confusing purchases. Their signature marketing ploy is the “Bargain Countdown” section, which offers a small amount of a product at a really low price for a given time period. It’s definitely an “act fast” sort of deal that serious shoppers will want to monitor daily.
  13. Smart Shop: Smart Shop is another discount site dedicated to bring consumers the best prices on electronic and computer equipment and household appliances. With warehouses located throughout the country, Smart Shop promises customers a quick turnaround time on their purchases. Their homepage conveniently features items that are “hot”, as well as those on sale.
  14. E Half Off.com: This site has teamed up with Overstock.com to bring you great prices on products – some of which have been discounted to the tune of 80 percent! Like Overstock and most other discount shopping networks, E Half Off makes its money when other retail businesses buy more than they need. They have over 750,000 products available and offer a flat shipping fee of $2.95, no matter how big your order.
  15. Sidestep: It’s hard to know whether to categorize Sidestep as a price comparison site or a discount shopping site. Really, it’s both. Sidestep is an easy-to-use site that helps consumers find the cheapest flights around by performing a search of all airline websites and airline search sites. In the end, you can mix up your destination airports and times to find the best price. An incredible tool for the frequent or infrequent traveler.
  16. Woot: Woot operates on the principle of “one day, one deal,” and it’s a great concept. Every day, Woot features one item for sale that has been deeply, deeply discounted. That’s it. You either purchase it or you don’t. Unsure what to do? Consult Woot’s active blog and user forum for product reviews.
  17. Craigslist: Craigslist is a different kind of marketplace altogether. While it’s not an online merchant, it is more than entirely possible to find the best deals on used products on this free classified site. Maybe you’re in the market for a bike and a new apartment? Craigslist has you covered. It’s the most comprehensive online bulletin board and it’s the perfect spot for the discount shopper who doesn’t care about having everything brand new.
  18. eBay: You didn’t think we’d forget did you?!? Last but not least is one of the more popular online shopping destinations for buyers and merchants alike. eBay allows for competitive shopping by having buyers bid on products within a certain timeframe. Merchants can also rake in the cash selling stuff they just don’t need anymore. It’s a virtual online yard sale where the savvy shopper can find just what they need.

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17 June 2008

All About Celebrities Blog Carnival: Volume 6

Christine presents Cannes 2008 – Short Film Corner – Tarantino in Cannes posted at Me, My Kid and Life: An American Single Mom Living in France.

Ashley Cain presents TI and Tiny – new baby posted at London Speaks.

Stefanie Hutson presents The Top 10 Tackiest People of All Time posted at Vat19.com slash Blog.

Hilary Green presents Celebrities Who Drive Green Rides! posted at The Green Motorist.

Jeff Sullivan presents Moe Bandy – Americana Live In Branson posted at Branson Country Music Shows.

David B. Bohl presents Learning from Celebrities about Work Life Balance posted at Slow Down Fast Today!.

praveen presents The Indiana Jones Gamble posted at My Simple Trading System.

Woman Tribune presents Mischa Barton and Her Many Ruffles posted at Woman Tribune – a web space for women.

Ralph Jean-Paul presents Learn From the 8 Most Confident Men in Films posted at Potential 2 Success.

Michael Snyder presents The Picture Of The Hindu God That Barack Obama Carries For Good Luck posted at Shattered Paradigm.

Matt DiChiara presents The Hills Watch: We Were Totally Right. OBVI. | MyNewPlace Blog posted at MyNewPlace Blog.

Ozone presents Interview: Johannes Strassmann posted at Poker Tips.

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