The practice of window shopping for items in a brick and mortar store then buying those same items online for a cheaper price, often from a different retailer, is so popular there is name for it, showcasing. The practice of showcasing is especially popular with books where it's easy to identify product by title and author, so there is no question that what you buy online is exactly what you saw in the store. Showcasing can save you money in a number of ways.
Showcasing can provide some important reality checks. Once you factor the cost of shipping an item into your purchase you may find that buying an item at a brick and mortar store is actually cheaper or equal to the cost of buying it online. You may also find that those cute pair of shoes at the department store are not available online at all! When that happened to me I saved money the old fashioned way. I visited the store often until the pricey designer shoes went on sale, then I snapped them up at a deeply discounted price.
Popular price comparison web sites may come in handy for a pricing a wide variety of items, but their price comparisons usually include major retailers and ignore independent sellers. For example, let's say you were comparison pricing a book you were interested in buying. A price comparison web site might give you the price that Amazon is selling the book for but often their are independent sellers on Amazon selling the book for less than the regular price Amazon is selling it for. These independent sellers on Amazon and people selling through eBay often don't show up on price comparison web sites. Before you buy anything it pays to shop around on different web sites to be sure you are getting the best deal.
Showcasing can apply to all kinds of products, not just books. For example you can buy popular fragrances online through web sites that sell perfume at discounted prices. It's easy to preview new fragrances by visiting your local department stores and spritzing a sample of perfume on you. Later you can decide if that fragrance smells so divine you want to buy a bottle of perfume online at a discounted price.
The practice of window shopping for items in person then shopping for those same items online can seem time consuming, but it actually simplifies the shopping process. In a physical retail store they have buyers on staff that decide which products the store will stock. These buyers act as an editor that filter out the merchandise that may be the wrong style or price for a specific audience. With a limited selection of the latest book titles, affordable fashions etc., physical retail stores don't bombarded you with the kind of overwhelming selection available online. By identifying a few brick and mortar stores that carry the type of goods you like at prices you can afford you save time by not wasting hours online searching through a sea of countless irrelevant products looking to find that perfect item at the perfect price.
For more money saving ideas check out The Cheap Diva's Guide to Frugal and Fabulous Living: How to Shop Smart, Look Your Best, Decorate with Style, and Have Fun for Less Money!