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The 3 best stores for online shopping in Canada

The 3 best stores for online shopping in Canada

E-commerce is making splashes with waves of consumers opting to spend online instead of heading to the store. The downside: shipping to and, in some cases, from.

A survey by Safe Home Products suggests 89 percent of consumers prefer online shopping to store shopping. Of the survey's respondents, 96 percent said they choose online shopping for convenience.

But it's not always so convenient. According to a survey by comScore Inc., 65 percent of respondents said they would shop more with an onlineretailer if they could return an item to the store or get free return shipping. Further, half of us have returned a product purchased online at least once.

Thankfully, some of our favourite stores are way ahead of the game on this one. Don't worry about buyer's remorse - if you do happen to experience it, these stores make it like it never even happened.

3 stores that make online shopping easy as 1, 2, 3

1. Indigo /Chapters

We love - and not just for their dedicated selection of Canadian reads, self-improvement section, kids books and well curated and refined gift section. Indeed, it's not only their plum rewards or irewards we find rewarding - it's in how easy they make online shopping that we see true value. Shipping over $25 is free of charge and can be expected within 1-9 days of placing your order. You can get your read on in 1-4 days for a premium fee, based on weight, size and distance.

If you're not entirely into what you've ordered, you can return your purchase either online or at any Indigo, Chapters, or Coles store in town. If you'd rather just send it the way it came, you can print a postage-paid return shipping label right off the website.

Let us not understate the Heather's Pick return policy, either. Since Heather Reisman, founder and chief executive of Indigo, is so confident with her taste in good reads, she'll let you return her picks at any time in any condition for a full refund. But chances are, you'll want to keep that good read on the bookshelf for a future refresher.

Deal alert: Their online sale section boasts some of the best deals in town on beautiful giftware, often 50-75% off the retail price. There are also valuable 'deals of the week' on brand-name items, such as children's toys.Shop for all those hostess, teacher and birthday gifts well in advance...lounging in the comfort of your bed or sofa.

2. Browns Shoes gets you your order in 3-5 days for a flat rate of $5, or 1-2 days for $15. They offer free shipping on orders of $198 or more - and we all know that when it comes to shopping for shoes, that isn't a hard sum to reach.

However, if the shoe don't fit, you must acquit. You can return your purchases online within one month - but be prepared to be stuck with another $5 shipping fee per item, which is deducted from your refund. That won't necessarily break the bank, but we prefer any option that has the word "free" splashed all over it. That's why we love Browns in-store return policy, which lets you return online purchases at any Browns or B2 location free of charge.

Deal alert: Their sale section has tons of styles and sizes that keep dropping in price further as time goes on (sign up for their newsletter for alerts).Because you're buying from the warehouse, you'll get way more variety and selection than shopping at any one individual store, and often at 30-70% off.

3. Gap, Old Navyand Banana Republic

At, when you make a purchase over $50, shipping is free. You also have the benefit of adding items to your online cart from sister stores Old Navy and Banana Republic. You can browse through every piece of merchandise you'll find in-store - and because all orders come direct from their warehouse, you don't need to worry about that whole "they've got every size but mine" thing. Your wait time is 7-9 business days, but if you're eager to sport thoselegging cordsright away, you can opt for shipping as soon as 1, 2 or 4-5 days for an additional charge.

To top it off, Gap's return policy is perfectly catered to your preference, whatever that may be. With a pre-paid Canada Post shipping label included in every online buy, you can mail it back to their headquarters free of charge. Otherwise, you can take your purchase down to any one of its Canadian locations within 45 days for a full, hassle-free return or exchange.

Deal alert:Nearly every day, thesethree stores offer promo codes visible right at the top of their sites to save an extra 15-40% on merchandise (sometimes on regular priced items, sometimes a further reduction on sale items, sometimes on your entire purchase). The sale sections alreadyofferdeep discountson clothingand accessories foreveryone from newborn to grandma, but with an extra 40% off, now you're onto something.

The number one reason consumers DO or DON'T shop online...

Online retail spending in America surged 15 percent last year, according to the UPS Pulse of the Online Shopper report.

One of the largest factors differentiating brands that were getting the bucks and brands that weren't was the return policy. A 2012 US study by Harris Interactive observed that purchases by shoppers who experienced a free return increased by 357 percent over two years, while purchases by shoppers who had to pay to make a return decreased by more than 74 percent in the same time period.

The best way to sell a consumer on shopping through your online store: Offer a return policy that doesn't hurt our heads or our wallets - and throw in a good deal while you're at it.

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