Amazon is the biggest player in the game of online retailers, but that doesn’t mean you have to use them. Whether you have reservations regarding Amazon’s ethical status or simply hold a personal grudge, you may find yourself in search of an alternative to the online giant. In that case, where can you go?
You won’t find a site out there with the same level of breadth and coverage that Amazon has, but if you narrow your search parameters down to specific types of goods, you’ll find that there are a couple of online retailers that can put up a decent fight.
For General Shopping: Rakuten
Have you heard of Rakuten.com? Probably not. Have you heard of Buy.com? Most likely, yes. What many people don’t know is that Rakuten.com is Buy.com. Rakuten bought out the company back in 2010 and rebranded the site, which is about the time that Buy.com fell off the radar, at least in my social circles.
The good news is that Rakuten is a strong adversary to Amazon. They’ve bought out multiple e-commerce sites across Europe and North America and have been slowly establishing themselves as a powerful entity in the online retail space with over 17 million products available at affordable prices.
Rakuten has a loyalty program called Rakuten Super Points. By purchasing items on Rakuten that qualify for the program, you’ll accumulate Super Points on your account. You can then use these Super Points to pay for future orders, effectively discounting your purchases. In other words, the more you shop at Rakuten, the more money you can save in the long run.
What can you find on Rakuten? Computer peripherals, office supplies, apparel and jewelry, general electronics, physical and digital entertainment, home décor and household goods, health and beauty products, sports gear, and more.
For Used Goods: eBay
I often use Amazon to purchase used goods from third-party sellers. If you’re like me and you do the same, then I’d point you to a site like eBay where all transactions occur between third parties. Not a fan of the auction format? No problem. Just format the search results to only show products with “Buy It Now” enabled.
But if you want to really save money, check out eBay Deals. The Daily Deals section is especially worthy of attention. Every day, eBay puts up heavily discounted items with free shipping with one catch: limited stock. As items run out, new deals take their place. You can also browse other deals that aren’t so time-sensitive. With a bit of luck, you can save a lot of money here.
eBay has built up a strange reputation for itself over the years and its close integration with PayPal doesn’t really help. The good thing, however, is that eBay has a strong Buyer Protection Policy – so strong that it’s often viewed as unfair towards sellers. Even still, I recommend that you be cautious of common eBay scams. Scams are always possible in an open third-party market.
If you’d like to avoid both Amazon and eBay, you may want to check out these eBay alternatives instead.
For Electronics: Newegg
Newegg was once the go-to site for all things electronic but they’ve since branched out into many other categories. Do you need a new desktop, laptop, peripherals, accessories, or video games? Newegg has it. Home goods, car accessories, office products, apparel, or sporting gear? Newegg has that, too. And if you’re patient, you can find some really great deals.
There are some horror stories out there from unsatisfied customers, but for a site as large as Newegg, it’s bound to happen. Newegg isn’t flawless – most of their blunders are related to customer service – but they’re one of the better online retailers out there. I built a computer using only parts from Newegg and it’s been going strong for four years.
If you don’t like Newegg for whatever reason, I’d recommend either TigerDirect or MicroCenter. Both of them offer great electronic products for affordable prices.
For Music: eMusic
If you use Amazon for purchasing music, you’re in luck because there are a lot of alternative online music stores. The biggest name is iTunes, of course, but I personally prefer eMusic for the reasons listed below.
eMusic lets you download individual songs and full albums right off of their website in DRM-free MP3 format. If you subscribe and become a member, you’ll get huge discounts ranging from 25 to 50 per cent on all songs – a great deal for those of you who buy a lot of music. But if you just want to purchase songs here and there, no subscription is necessary and the prices are still competitive.
As of now, eMusic is only available to those in the United States, European Union, Canada, Norway, and Switzerland.
For Literature: Barnes and Noble
Amazon started off as an online bookstore. Nowadays with the Kindle, Amazon maintains a huge lead as the largest retailer for ebooks. It’s nice to consider what Amazon has done for ebooks as a medium and books as a whole, but if you want to purchase your books elsewhere I won’t blame you.
Where else can you go? Barnes and Noble. Not only do they have a massive selection of literature and other print-based media, they have the second largest collection of ebooks for sale online. Ebooks purchased from B&N can only be read using a Nook or a Nook app, which can be downloaded for free on most mobile devices.
Have you decided to stop shopping with Amazon? If so, where do you go for your online shopping needs? Share your recommendations with us in the comments!