Online shopping has become one of the most viable forms of commerce. Almost all major stores have online sister sites, some even having special offers only available on their website. According to a September 2011 article by Orange Collar Media, Americans spent $186 billion online shopping in 2010.

During college, money can be tight. Combine that with students not having cars, and it can be difficult to even get to stores nearby. That is when most of us turn to the Internet. Nowadays, almost anything can be purchased online from food to technology to clothing, which is quite convenient in a college setting. In fact, according to the same Orange Collar Media article, clothing is the most purchased item on the Internet.

There are thousands of clothing stores on the web, many of which are strictly online. While the web offers convenience, there are some experiences that factor in to the decision to go into an actual store.

“I enjoy shopping online at places like Wet Seal,” said freshman psychology major Katelyn Squicciarini, “but I like going to the store better. I enjoy trying on the clothing.”

Of course, there is another side to that coin.

“I prefer online shopping because they have smaller sizes that they usually seem to run out of at the store,” said freshman bioengineering major Kathryn Radom.

According to a survey conducted by Experience Inc. in 2006, whose results were released two months ago, 98 percent of college students have bought a product or service online. The study also found that college students spend a lot of time researching products before they buy them and thus, when they finally go to buy, they do it online.

Shopping on the computer also allows people to find many one-of-a-kind items. Online stores such as eBay and Etsy have countless smaller stores that are run by individuals or groups carrying unique items most people would not be able to find in stores. Many eBay stores including American Archive feature quality vintage clothing. American Archive has clothing for both girls and guys and carries everything from old Harley Davidson shirts to Christian Dior sweaters.

Etsy is a site that focuses on selling handmade and vintage items, but carries almost anything you can think of. The whole site consists of many smaller stores where people sell their products. I find myself on the site for hours, scrolling through all of the handmade jewelry and vintage clothing. Buyers can find everything from photographs taken by sellers, to handcrafted jewelry and shoes as well as handmade and vintage clothing.

Another study conducted online by Internet advertising network Burst Media in July of 2007 found that college students spend more time with the Internet than any other media. Of the 439 college students who were surveyed, Burst found that 26.6 percent of males and 16.7 percent of females prefer to shop online, but the study did not include a large enough sample to make this finding conclusive.

Online shopping is an easy and efficient way for college students to purchase almost everything. Online stores usually have better prices and deals. Of course, the devil is in the details. While there may be better deals online, you usually have to pay for shipping and unfortunately, you can’t try clothes on online.