Tuesday, July 23, 2024

What Are Your Favorite Stores for Online Shopping?

This post may contain affiliate links and Corporette® may earn commissions for purchases made through links in this post. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

We haven’t had a discussion on our favorite stores for online shopping since 2015… so let’s get into it!

I do a lot of online shopping. I got in the habit when I was working such long hours at the law firm that — aside from local lunch-hour trips — it was just easier to buy everything online because I wasn’t available when most stores were open.

I’ve kept the habit now that I have kids, particularly for baby items — we once ran around to six baby stores looking for a nursing thing we needed when I had my first child, and later found it was available on Amazon (with the one-day shipping option, too).

SO: I shop a lot, online. But it’s interesting to me that almost all of my shopping is done at only a few retailers…

(Note that we’ve talked about the 7 retailers with the best return policies — as well as best practices for returning items bought online. This is a super old post, but I still stand by these tips on how to know if an online deal is worth it.)

(The doormat pictured above is under $40 at Amazon!)

Reader-Favorite Stores for Online Shopping for Work Clothes

Based on affiliate data, at least, readers love shopping at Nordstrom, Amazon, Ann Taylor, J.Crew, J.Crew Factory, M.M.LaFleur, and Zappos.

Readers had a threadjack recently when someone asked, “If you could only shop at 5 retailers for clothes, what would they be?” A lot of the answers included my favorite stores for online shopping (Nordstrom, Amazon, Old Navy), but there were a few others that appeared over and over. Those included Madewell, Reformation, Anthropologie, Abercrombie, Sezane, J.Crew Factory, and Target, as well as exercise stores like Vuori and Beyond Yoga.

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{related: what to buy for work at Ann Taylor}

My Favorite Stores for Online Shopping (And Why)

I heavily prefer to shop from these stores, in large part because I know what to expect if there are any returns — I know the return window as well as how I can package the returns or if I can drop them off in person. I’ve also never had a bad shopping experience with them…


We pay for Prime Membership — and my preferred credit card is my Amazon Visa, which nets me triple points at Amazon — so it’s hard to beat. Free two-day shipping, a 30-day return policy (with easy returns that are often free), a wide selection, and Subscribe & Save discounts for many household things (that sometimes beat even Costco prices).


TBH, when I started this blog I barely shopped at Nordstrom. I hate the way the physical stores are laid out, I disliked the products that seemed to be in my price range, and so on.

When I noticed that Corporette readers went nuts for the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale and the Half-Yearly Sale, with lots of eager talk of points, customer service, and more, I started looking into it.

Nowadays it feels like Nordstrom is the department store to beat, online. Their website is easy to use and has a great “recommendation” engine, as well as filters that actually work; and they offer fast, free shipping, free returns that get credited back pretty quickly, a wide selection of products, a price-matching policy, and a very generous return policy.

I like that if you spend enough using your Nordstrom Card, you get gift certificates (Nordstrom Notes) that are basically like cash back.


Fast, free shipping; a great return policy (365 days), and a price-matching policy. Sign me up.

Gap / Old Navy / BR

I often buy stuff for my children at Old Navy and Gap, and with the combined shopping cart and free shipping with $50+, it’s easy to add a few things for my husband and myself as well. The frequency of the sales never hurts, either.

Ann Taylor

I usually stock up during their “60% off the sale” sales (which I also try to post about here if there’s good stuff).

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Every so often I’ll buy from Sephora if I’m on the hunt for something (love that return policy!), or the crazy Dillard’s New Year’s sale, or even (gasp) very occasionally at an actual brand store, like a recent purchase I made at Clinique.com. 

But: My Favorite Stores for Gift Cards & Gifts

I thought I’d mention this because gift and gift card season is upon us: I tend to shop at very different stores when I’m buying a gift for someone. For example, my kids’ teachers almost all get Target gift cards because I figure everyone needs something at Target, whether it’s fun or practical. If we’re getting a gift for a kid party, I also try to get something from Target so that it’s easy for the parents to return and exchange for something else.

We get a lot of cash gift cards from my husband’s clients, and I try to use all of those at a grocery store wherever possible because I never make returns there! (Also, in general, it’s pretty difficult to use cash gift cards online.)

Retailers I Avoid

On the flip side, some retailers I avoid like the plague: One department store that annoyingly keeps emptying my cart when I get to checkout, another department store that used to have decent deals in person in the store but lately seems to only have cheap yuck at high prices online (plus a high minimum to get free shipping)… With some of the big-box stores like Target and Kohl’s, I just hate the online experience.

Reasons I’ll Shop at a New-to-Me Online Store

A much better deal that can’t/won’t be price-matched. The price of shipping and the speed of shipping are things that I factor in to the purchasing decision, though, as well as the return policy.

Buying several items from one brand. For example, I knew I wanted a bunch of Clinique products recently, and I didn’t care about a return policy because I’d used all of the products before. I went on the hunt for a “gift with purchase” deal from a major department store, and eventually found that Clinique offered one of the best deals: free shipping with $50 (which I planned to spend anyway), and the deal at the time was five minis/samples of other products, which I liked.

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A product that can’t be found elsewhere. Sometimes it seems like almost everything can be found at my preferred retailers — but sometimes it can’t. I recently bought a great All Saints summer dress from (gasp) All Saints; I recently bought a bunch of stuff online at Anthropologie (and returned a lot of it) because they had a good sale and a selection of stuff I couldn’t easily find elsewhere.

A local store to which I plan to return items. I usually find it’s easier to box up what I don’t want and send it back via the post office — and all of my preferred retailers offer free return shipping, so that’s usually not an issue. But very occasionally it’s just easier to run into a local store, run to the closest counter, and return things.

An item that seems like a lot of fuss to ship. For example, dumbbells and other exercise equipment. Ceramic pots. A tension rod for hanging curtains.

A previous online shopping experience. If I already have an account set up, and had an OK shopping experience the first time, then I’m more inclined to pull the trigger on a purchase (assuming the other things are met). Neiman Marcus, J.Crew, The Outnet — none are in my regular wheelhouse but if I see a good deal I’m pretty quick to purchase because it’s jut a few clicks.

A store that takes Apple Pay. If I see an “Apple Pay” option at a store where I don’t have an account and don’t really plan to create one, it’s a very, very easy purchase for me. I like that I don’t have to pull out my credit card, that I don’t have to give them my phone number, and that you can choose to have your iPhone provide an anonymized email address. On the flip side, if the only option is PayPal or credit card I may get annoyed, depending on circumstances.

I’m curious — which are your favorite stores for internet shopping? How much of your life is purchased online? What factors make you deviate from your preferred retailers? Are there some stores where you absolutely prefer the in-store shopping experience (for reasons other than the obvious: being able to try a bunch of stuff on before purchasing it)? 

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