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Best Kept Online Shopping Secrets

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by Megan Edwards (subscribe)
I count myself lucky to be born in Australia's coffee capital of Melbourne and love to write about what's on in my home town.
Published July 16th 2012
For the shopaholics amongst us, there is nothing more satisfying than scouting for bargains. Retail devotees often admit that the thrill of the hunt is just as important as the catch itself. So how do they fare when life gets in the way, and they can't make it to the mall for a dose of retail therapy?

Go online, of course!

I will not attempt to comprehensively cover the mind-boggling array of goods and services available on the web here, however I have found the following sites to be a great starting point for those whose urge to splurge never sleeps.

Online Beauty Discounts at StrawberryNET (Image courtesy of StrawberryNET)

Established in 1996 and distributing over 20,000 genuine, branded beauty products worldwide from their warehouses in Hong Kong, StrawberryNET is an online beauty store that really looks after its customers. They offer a free loyalty club which provides discounts that increase each time you buy and free shipping on all purchases. Delivery is prompt and always professional, with most items delivered to your door within a week.

Premium brand names for both men and women are almost always less than retail price. Some of the great discounts I have recently spotted include skincare from SK-II, Clarins and Dermalogica (up to 33% off), haircare by Joico and Redken (up to 29% off) fragrances like Versace and Dolce & Gabbana (up to 50% off) and in make-up, brands like Christian Dior and Guerlain (up to 26% off).

Discount wine, cider, beer and spirits at SurplusWine (Image courtesy of SurplusWine)

An Australian site which, as the name suggests, specialises in clearance sales. Thankfully, it is not a dumping ground for cheap and nasty product that retailers and manufacturers want to offload, but rather the result of design changes, having no label (cleanskins), cancelled exports and stock bought in liquidations.

You'll see big names from around Australia and New Zealand like Penfolds, Rosemount and Jacob's Creek, offering up some of their best drops for a song. For example, Rosemount Diamond Label Pinot Grigio 2010 was recently on sale for $79.95 per case (59% less than retail price), with six bottles of WAHU Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc thrown in for free!

Join their club free of charge, and you'll be given access to additional 'members only' products, plus the opportunity to receive a $10 discount coupon for each new customer you refer to the site.

Don't worry if wine is not your thing, as the site also has a range of beer, spirits and cider, with brands like Magners, Glenfiddich and Ballantynes, all at less than retail. Popular Swedish cider Rekorderlig was a steal recently, at $4.60 per bottle.

Snapfish online digitial photo printing (Image courtesy of Snapfish)

Whilst not all of us are fond of having our photo taken, there are few who would refute the simple pleasure of flicking through a photo album and remininscing about events, people and places gone by, and thanks to the ready availability of sophisticated, user friendly digital camera technology in smart phones and the like, it's never been easier to snap a photo whenever and wherever you like.

The downside of this convenience is that many of us neglect to ever print our photos. Sure, we may post them on Facebook or Twitter, email them or Pinterest them - but it's not quite the same as holding a book of memories in your hand, is it?

The solution, particularly for time-poor folk, is Snapfish, an online digital photo service created by international technology giant Hewlett Packard. Simply create a free account, and Snapfish allows you to quickly and easily upload, edit and order your digital photos in whatever form you choose, from basic prints to stubby holders. As an added bonus, you also score 20 free digital prints, just for signing up.

Snapfish differs from other online photo services not only in simplicity, but in value for money. Most leading providers charge 15c per standard 6cmx4cm print. With Snapfish however, the standard 15c print is 15cmx10cm! Their delivery charges are minimal ($2.95 for up to 60 prints) and orders arrive promptly (usually within 5-9 days), saving you the time-consuming exercise of travelling to a traditional retail digital photo booth to place, and then collect your order - but if by this stage you are craving retail contact, you can nominate to collect the order from your local Kmart store.
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Cost: The sky's the limit!
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