online-shoppingIts only 11 days till Christmas, so if you have not done all your Christmas shopping yet then you better hurry! More consumers than ever this year will be doing their shopping online (up to 78% according to a survey from Tesco Direct!) so I thought I would share with you a few of our favourite shopping sites.

Don’t worry that you can’t make it to your nearest shopping centre, it is easier than ever (and very often cheaper) to purchase what you want online. Not wanting to write this article just about shopping, the sites I refer to are established digital leaders loved by members of the Zeta team, and like the contents of a Christmas stocking this article offers a variety of surprises including: a few insider e-commerce tips from Zeta, some shopping tips from me and a gift or two!

Fashion, Jewellery and Accessories
Whether you are buying for male or female, young or old there is something on ASOS for everyone. The site which launched in 2000, provided fashion to mimic celebrities styles but today has over 35,000 own label and branded fashion goods. The site combines fantastic usability and visually exquisite design to bring the traditional high street fashion shop window right onto your desktop.

Careful looking at the site at work though, it’s very easy to lose hours looking at the pretty things.

A part of the ASOS family of sites is a review site that centres on social media interaction and customer reviews is truly brilliant ASOS reviews puts ASOS at number one on my online fashion list.

Make sure you follow these guys on Twitter @asos for great offers, news and discount codes. Once more they are also doing FREE worldwide delivery for a limited period!asos

CDs and DVDs
CDs and DVDs are an easy gift for anyone, and reportedly the most common purchases made online.
Not an e-commerce site, but rather a clever price comparison site: www.find-dvd.co.uk and www.find-cd.co.uk lets you compare prices of DVDs and CDs from across the web in order to find you the best shopping deals, but is it any good? Yes.

I was thinking of buying a friend the Gossip Girl box set – thanks to find-dvd I saved myself £5 by purchasing from Amazon instead of Asda.

Well worth a look if you are on the hunt for CD’s or DVD’s!

If you want to buy someone some music but you are not sure what they like then try a Digital Music gift card! These are great if you want to give music as a gift as the recipient can download music that they want using a prepaid card so you don’t need to worry about buying a song or artist they will enjoy. This might be a  good gift for teenagers who like to download music from iTunes where parents do not want to register their credit cards incase their children go download crazy.

Toys
Got kids to buy for? Try ebay for new or nearly new kids toys. The site has gone from strength to strength over the years, letting users  buy new, used or vintage items from private or professional sellers.

Apart from purchasing gifts ebay is also great for selling those unwanted gifts come the New Year.

No idea how to use ebay? People are making money from selling other people’s stuff online. If you are based in London check out www.stuffusell.co.uk. These guys come and collect your items, sell them on ebay for you and give you the cash! (There is a slight commission fee in it for them of course!)ebay

Books
When it comes to books, Amazon is king. I will always be brand loyal and purchase books from Amazon. Why? Because they are reliable and have always given me excellent service and discounts. Amazon’s adoption of the long tail is much admired, successfully creating endless choice which results in unlimited demand. It works on me, I go on to search for one book and end up purchasing four or more after Amazon cleverly  tells me I might also ‘like these’.  Famous for books, maybe, but Amazon now extends to beauty, electricals, cds, dvds, games and more.

Why does Amazon continue to  be a perfect case study for e-commerce design?
Well one answer lies in Amazon’s constant AB testing and design. Things like simple, well designed forms and one click ordering set them apart as an industry leader. For any one looking to increase their e-commerce conversion rates we would highly recommend purchasing the econsultancy checkout optimization guide and making sure that you or your web developer are conforming  to all design best practices.amazon

Chocolates
You cannot really go wrong with chocolates. A site I like is Hotel Chocolat. Their chocolate is absolutely divine and they have a varied Christmas gift selection. The site conveys clear last order Christmas delivery on their home page as well as easy navigation when choosing gifts. Allowing the user to browse by occasion, product or person. They also do corporate gifts!

Their best seller is the Classic Christmas Selection at only £20:chocloat

Gourmet Food

For the speciality food lovers out there, Real Food Direct offers an amazing choice of yummy treats and festive favourites.  Clear and simple to use, the site offers a great choice of luxury food stuffs from small family run business to speciality dealers from all over the UK. As this time of year grows nearer Real Food Direct offer some of the finest Christmas hampers on the net. Real Food Direct a wide range of hampers, each filled with either an assortment of Christmas goodies, fresh organic food stuffs or a range of indulgent chocolates, all of which may be quite difficult to give away!

Experiences
Need a gift for someone special? Why not try a memorable experience. Whether it is a theatre night out, a weekend break, a spa treatment or a day of Zorbing, there is a lot out there to choose from,
Wahanda and Red Letter Days both offer an excellent choice of  days out and nights to remember.  I have also found a 10% discount code from that will save you even more: http://www.myvouchercodes.co.uk/discounts/redletterdays.co.uk?_$ja=tsid:26367.wahanda

Got something specific to buy?
When you have something specific to buy, a branded item maybe or an electrical appliance and you are after the best price then try Google product search. Obvious as it might seem, many people do not know about it. Google product search acts in a similar way to a price comparison sites, simply search for the product you are after and Goolge will return you a list of items and allow you to compare prices meaning you can buy what you want at the most competitive price. User reviews also make Google product search even better as you can narrow down your choice according to customer feedback of various sites.

Check out this demo search for an iPhone 4 16GB: iPhone 4 16GB Google Product Searchgoogle

Unusual Gifts
Do you know about Etsy? The social shopping site. An online community putting buyers and sellers together. Well it has a pretty cool tool for helping you source gifts for your friends based on their Facebook profile, take a look here: http://www.etsy.com. You log in via the Facebook api and select your friend. The application then delivers a variety of gift solutions from Etsy sellers that your friend may like based on the content of their profile!etsy

Luxury
Achica.com is the new private member’s online department store which launched this year. Apparently it has been causing a stir in the world of homeware and interiors by offering leading luxury lifestyle brands at up to 70% off RRP.

I don’t really like the fact that you need to register before you can browse items, I think in terms of usability this will put people off – although I understand the business model these guys are trying to achieve, this will be a huge limitation.

I quickly signed up and it seems that the site has 1 day only shopping events for different categories and exclusive discounts, however the text layout and navigation of the site fails to communicate this well, leaving me nothing to return for.

Feel free to check it out and let me know what you think!achica

Our gift to you!
A 30% off code for all purchases from econsultancy: simply enter the following code on all purchases or downloads from the site:  ECRF1084.

Well, I hope I have given you a few ideas to help fill those stockings for Christmas day. If there is anything particular you are after but are having trouble finding please drop us a comment or ask us @ZetaAgency and we will be happy to point you in the right direction! Seller or service provider? Maybe we can help you with your ecommerce website for Christmas 2011!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year All!

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