Online Shopping

E-commerce - the ability to buy things over the web - is now arguably the internet's primary reason for existence. Rather than tramping around the high street comparing products and prices - or worse, doing so only to find that your nearest retailer is hundreds of miles away - you can now do it all from the comfort of your computer, or even your phone. Some websites will even do the hard bit for you; just enter what you're looking for, click 'search' and find the cheapest available version from a variety of different retailers.

These days, most people will also be familiar with the dangers associated with esoteric online financial transactions. The honeymoon period is definitely over (read more on our Scam Warnings Page), which may be one of the reasons why the virtual shopping centre tends to be dominated by a few familiar giants, with their secure servers (check for the https at the start of the url when you're entering your details - the 's' is for 'secure') for online payment. Allay your fears at comparison sites such as, which only lists secure online shops.

To help with your shopping, we have compiled the following list of websites you might like to investigate. If you have any favourites of your own, please e-mail us and we'll consider them for inclusion below.

Before we start delving into sub-categories, it might be worth visiting, which offers a very user-friendly guide to shopping online for those attempting it for the first time.


Most of the main supermarkets now deliver to your door, many charging a £5 flat fee for the privilege (occasionally waived as part of an introductory offer, or if you spend over a certain amount). You simply compile your virtual list online and book a convenient delivery slot (usually a window of a couple of hours) when you must ensure that you're in to receive the goods - then wait to see what turns up. Be prepared for the odd substitution of your desired item with its closest equivalent (eg. Desiree instead of Maris Piper). deliver free if you spend the required minimum (£25 as at Feb 2010), but they don't do fresh groceries. Here are the other main contenders:

One very useful online system is Tesco's online price check. Updated every Thursday, it compares prices on about 5,000 items at Sainsbury, Asda, Safeway, and Tesco itself. And it does seem to admit when Tesco is more expensive.

Speciality Foods: Cheese

Dutch cheese specialist, exporting Edam, Gouda, Maasdammer and other cheeses from Holland. Site gives the history of cheese market in Edam.
A rival, also offering worldwide shipping of cheese.
Based in Tours, this site offers a detailed guide to France's amazingly varied cheeses, as well as offering themed selections.

Chocolate and Cake

Oxford's raw chocolate specialists.
Arguably the UK's most luxurious online chocolatier (with a physical outlet at 132 Oxford High Street - hoorah! And simultaneously: oh dear). Includes the legendary Chocolate Tasting Club, whereby exotic new types of chocolates arrive at your door each month for 'testing' purposes (well, that's what they tell you, anyway. And perhaps filling out the feedback form burns off a few calories).
Freshly baked Texan pecan cakes, cheesecakes, cookies and pies, delivered to your door. Truly delicious.

Gourmet French Food

Family-run business in the Auvergne posting organic French gourmet food to your door. Pâtés, chocolates and other tasty things.


...locates stockists for your wine of choice and lists them in ascending order of price. They have 250,000 wines listed, so you should be able to track down even the most obscure. Many of the retailers offer world-wide delivery, and some even boast a complete on-line ordering service.

...the original and probably also the best. Also CDs, DVDs, software, games, phones, cars (you get the picture).
...Oxford's only remaining national chain bookshop since the demise of Borders in late 2009. ordering from Oxford's favourite independent 'knowledge retailer' (in case you can't find what you seek in branch on Broad Street. Or call 01865 792792 and they'll deliver within the ring-road for free).
...for all your spiritual, green and new age needs. The virtual counterpart of their lovely meatspace premises on Magdalen Road, east Oxford.
...for discounted academic titles.
...very good for rare and second-hand books. Highly recommended by Daily Info staff.

Price Comparison Sites
...the most popular online price comparison site, highly recommended by Which? Magazine. Tailor your search to your country location.
...a directory consisting exclusively of secure (https) online shops.

Online Auctions
...seeking Jimi Hendrix's guitar? An original copy of The Declaration of Independence? Or merely that last elusive Pokemon? Having now eradicated practically all competition, Britain's most popular auction site scarcely needs introduction. Bid for or sell practically anything, as long as it's legal.