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Best Online Shoe Store: Compare the Best Coupons & Reviews for Online Shoe Shopping.

For some women, shoe shopping is an experience akin to ecstasy. For me, shopping is a nag. So, I like to streamline the process as much as possible by surveying options online. I’ve compared four basic websites for the discerning shopper – Toms Shoes, The Walking Company, Planet Shoes, and Shoebuy.com. Below, I’ve decided to give a basic description of these four website – and then I compare them to one another.

TOMS Shoes

Generally, I really like TOMS. On a style level, TOMS happen to be hip. The simple, canvas design has penetrated every city street. The graphics are bold, too – but in a retro, early ‘90s way with a ring of kitschy cool. Somehow, I’ve noticed everybody (from soccer moms to unemployed musicians) sporting the shoes. And I see why – they’re cute, practical, and match most outfits.

Also, the great thing about TOMS is that you’re not just a consumer. You’re helping in a real way. For each pair of TOMS you purchase, the company donates a pair of shoes to a kid who couldn’t afford shoes otherwise. Originally geared towards kids in Argentina, TOMS now donates shoes to youth in Ethiopia, South Africa, and the USA. Since its founding in 2006, TOMS has given over 300,000 pairs of shoes to kids around the world. It even gave a large, one-time shoe donation to Haitians through the Clinton Global Initiative. In my eyes, this is a good company.

TOMS Shoes best promotion: 20% off store-wide

The charitable model of TOMS helps explain the cost: $44-$80 per each pair. Yeah, it’s expensive for basic, canvas slippers. But it’s a small fee for a wonderful service, both in terms of the charity offered and the business model you’re supporting. In many ways, I’m reminded of Adbusters, the culture-jamming, anti-corporate magazine from Vancouver. Perhaps, for some Adbusters readers, companies like TOMS are the lesser evil, forcing us to reconsider the real value of things.

FULL REVIEW: Click for the full in-depth review of TOMS Shoes

The Walking Company

Now, let’s say you want high-quality walking boots or shoes. You want leather. Or a solid name brand. Then you may consider The Walking Company.

The brands sold on the website are almost across-the-board dependable – Ecco, Dansko, Umberto Raffini. Of course the majority of the shoes look comfortable, too – with certain exceptions, like the Jessica Simpson pumps. And many of the shoes are also very cute. For example, just look at the image below. Each of those shoes look especially designed for comfort, with high-quality leather, expert design, and well-arched structure.

The Walking Company best promotion: 15% off store-wide

Price-wise, the shoes generally range from about $90-150. In my book, that’s perfectly acceptable. It is one thing to buy flimsy or generally low-quality shoes for high prices. It’s another thing to buy shoes that will last you years, even decades, for under $200. And the shoes from the Walking Company will withstand time. These are heavy-duty, leather shoes. They’re made for walking and hiking, running and rough terrain. Invest a few extra bucks into these shoes and you’ll be happy you did.

FULL REVIEW: Click for the full in-depth review of The Walking Company

Planet Shoes

As the name suggests, Planet Shoes are for the earth-inclined. By that, I mean the shoes are basically for a) hippies b) outdoorsy people or c) people who want really comfortable shoes. They’re eco-friendly, often vegan, and almost always insanely comfortable. It’s an ideal combination for backpackers. But it’s also appealing to the many of us who just want good shoes.

Because I’m a big walker, and I love comfortable shoes, I’m all for Planet Shoes. This is site for Birkenstocks. It’s for Crocs, Clarks, Patagonia, or Teva.

But I just wanted to clarify what this website is not: a fancy footwear site. In fact, the “dress shoes” really aren’t that dressy at all. So, in short, look elsewhere for wedding slippers.

Planet Shoes best promotion: 20% off store-wide

But Planet Shoes isn’t unbearably grungy either. Most of the shoes range from $50-150 and the selection is wide enough that you can find an assortment of footwear. Overall, Planet Shoes is primarily concerned with delivering comfortable, sustainable, and long-lasting shoes, whether from Earth Spirit or Chinese Laundry. And some of the shoes happen to be very stylish. Others are just plain comfortable. But it’s all there.

For the shopper, Planet Shoes is laid-out well. You can check options like “fringe,” “flats,” or “adjustable” to find exactly what you’re looking for. The only downside is you can only check one option at a time.

For the granola girls, though, there are some very grungy shoes. Like these shoes:

Wow. This is a total hippie shoe. It’s made by a Spanish company called El Naturalista. The shoe is made from all natural materials, like chrome-free leather, cork, natural rubber, and natural colorings. The glue is even recycled from ground powder. And, somehow, coconut is also listed as a material. It’s expensive ($240) but it’s natural, and hand-crafted, and would probably work with skirts or pants. But I would never buy it. Why? I think it’s ugly.

FULL REVIEW: Click for the full in-depth review of Planet Shoes

Shoebuy

This is the website of everything – well, not everything, but a lot. It’s just full of shoes! In fact, The Wall Street Journal called it “the shoe-buyer’s dream.” It’s the largest retailer of all categories of footwear on the Internet. They even have a “Medical Clogs” category. And the category of “Dress Flats” has 284 results, some of them very cute and wearable. They sell 4000 styles of boots, 7000 styles of sandals, 1000 styles of wedding shoes, 5000 styles of children’s shoes, and 6000 styles of dress shoes. On top of that, the company has partnerships with 900 manufacturers and represents over 700,000 products. Yes, it’s massive.

But my favorite aspect of the site is that it’s actually smart. In other words, Shoebuy.com predicts how shoppers think – and, in that sense, what they really want. You can run category searches for size, width, color and price. And you can find almost any basic shoe style, from “Snake Skin Shoes” to “Roman Sandals.”

Shoebuy best promotion: 10% off store-wide

Also, their selection is rather sensible – like a category for “Rounded Toe” shoes. How practical is that? Many women love rounded toe shoes for their comfort and style. Now, it’s searchable. Also, I was happy to find a wide selection of espadrilles, which are great all-purpose shoes (but always seem so limited in selection).

The prices run the gamut – anything from $60-300. Of course you can even find shoes over $300, but they’re usually not so high.

FULL REVIEW: Click for the full in-depth review of Shoebuy

COMPARISONS

Which online shoe store is the best?

The answer is that they’re all good. It just depends upon what you in mind.

Now, let’s say you’re looking for cute, easy-to-use slippers. Then go to TOMS. The business model is admirable and forward-thinking. Also, the shoes are perfect for everyday use, whether you’re going for a sweetly nerdy style, sort of a like a looser form of New England academia, or the basic monochromatic design. On a budget? Aim for the $44 basic TOMS, maybe in red or navy blue.

But, if you’re hunting for extremely durable or comfortable shoes, skip TOMS. The shoes aren’t meant for heavy-duty walking or hiking. Instead, check out the Walking Company or Planet Shoes. These companies are based upon selling long-lasting, super comfortable shoes. In particular, I recommend Planet Shoes. I generally find Planet Shoes to have a wider and more fashion-forward selection. However, both websites deserve a scan, especially if you’re looking for comfort over style.

Finally, if you’re looking for any other kind of shoes – dressy shoes, feminine sandals, etc – go to ShoeBuy.com. Hands down, it’s got the most options. Also, it’s the most feminine. The other sites I reviewed simply don’t cater to the softer, more girly look of shoes. While this may not concern all women, I do prefer a more feminine sandal, or heeled shoe, over hiking boots. For my sensibilities, then, Shoebuy.com is the most promising.

MORE INFO

Read more in-depth reviews of prices, selection and customer service and return policies at the top online shoe stores:

*Update* Just found out about a great site called JustFab that gives you ridiculous prices on top fashion items - check it out!

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