I shop online as much as I can. It saves time, hassle, petrol and sometimes money. Yet, in my opinion, New Zealand is poorly served for online shopping.

Still, it's always a good idea to compare the prices of e-tailers and regular stores if you're looking for a better deal.

Fishpond, Blackmarket, New Zealand Wine Society and MightyApe are among the highly successful e-tail-only operations based here.

Another successful e-tailer is Torpedo7. Some people swear by this site, which sells bike gear, and snow, moto, fishing and adventure products.


Its sister site, Urbandaddy, is reportedly also good and sells branded clothes and shoes. It had Converse Chuck Taylor Hi canvas shoes at $15 less than a well-known high street store this week.

The great thing about e-tailers is that they provide competition. I've always whinged about the price of pet products. But as I pointed out last week, the competition from e-tailers and Trade Me sellers is hotting up, with some reasonably keen prices on many pet-related items. Electronics and electrical equipment is another area where the competition is hot. Visit PriceMe.co.nz or PriceSpy.co.nz and you'll find plenty of cheap prices from companies you've never heard of. Some are parallel importers, such as elive and Big Brands Online. Others are what's called "drop shippers"; these small operations import each individual item from overseas when customers buy.

However obscure your interests, you can find e-tail stores catering to them. My sister-in-law swears by TheCakeShop.co.nz and KiwiCakes.co.nz, while my crafty aunty recommends numerous websites, among them Ashfordcraftshop.co.nz and Beadaholic.co.nz.

Don't assume that e-tailers' customer service is bad. I had to return an item to Fishpond recently and was provided with a print-out free-post label that made it easy to return the parcel. The refunded money was in my Visa account the day the parcel would have been received. Well done, Fishpond.

Drawing a line in the sand between retailers and e-tailers is sometimes difficult. Until a few weeks ago, I would have described the irresistible EquipOutdoors.co.nz as an e-tailer because it had an online operation and an oversized garage/store on a rural property in Whatawhata. It now has a shop in Franklin, but still sells most of its goods online.

Likewise is Expert Infotech, which has one outlet at its storage facility in Auckland's Glenfield, an e-tailer or a retailer?

With regards to last week's article about pets, one online vet store queried why its prices were not listed. That was because I searched for pet shops, not vets. Widening my search found DrBobs.co.nz, which turned out to be cheapest for that product, and that's a good lesson for everyone. The more you search, the better the deals.

Deals I write about may not always be the cheapest. And cheap doesn't always mean the best customer experience or service, which is important.

Top deals

• Free shipping in return for mailing list sign-up at CompleteOutdoors.co.nz.

• 25 per cent off 4M and Meccano products at IQToys.co.nz. Today only.

• NYX Bohemian Chic makeup Palette, $40.97 at Fishpond.co.nz.