Reporting Your Online Shopping Trips

I recently bought a number of items from a humongous online retailer. (Can’t mention any names, but let’s just say the founder of the company is the richest person in the world.) Some of the purchases were packaged separately, delivered on different days.

So you may ask, What’s the best way to record this? And that’s a good question. I can certainly see that reporting online purchases can be confusing!

Since online retailing continues to explode, it’s very important that our panelists accurately record these types of purchases. So here are some tips that will hopefully make your scanning life a little easier!

  • Online purchases may come in one or multiple shipments and don’t always include a packing receipt. Consider printing out your email/order confirmation so you can refer back to it when reporting your purchase.
  • If your items do come separately, please scan them as you receive them.
  • If an item arrives with the UPC barcode covered by another label, try carefully peeling off that label and scanning the UPC barcode on the item (or manually enter the barcode number if the barcode is damaged).
  • If you buy something from the website of a retailer that also has a storefront, make sure to report the trip as an online purchase. For example, if you order something from Walmart’s website, select “” when you record the purchase (whether the item was shipped directly to you or picked up at the store).

Hope that helps! Have a great weekend.

45 thoughts on “Reporting Your Online Shopping Trips”

  1. Ok I have a question and am hoping someone can help me. I’ve purchase a couple of items that are not on the list of items, how do I record them. One of my items is a weed wacker do I record this or not? And another item I had was water but that’s not on my list either.

    1. Hi, thanks for the question. Our “mantra” is, if the purchase has a barcode, or can be found in the Barcode Reference Booklet (if you use a handheld scanner) or the Non-Barcoded Items listing (if you use the NCPMobile App), please record it.

      If the weed wacker has a barcode on the package, please scan it! The same for the water (although if you buy a multipack of water, look for the barcode on the wrapper).

      Thanks, and we hope that helps!

  2. I find a lot of online purchases don’t have a barcode that is scanable. Yet using the no barcode option doesn’t work because there isn’t a category for it.

    1. Hi, if a purchase doesn’t have a barcode AND it can’t be found in the no barcode option, unfortunately, the item can’t be recorded. However, if you purchased other items, please include the price of this non-barcoded item in the TOTAL amount.

      Thank you for trying to scan these purchases!

      1. That was a great question because I’ve run into that problem too – no barcode. Period. And it’s frustrating because you want to be helpful. Thank for the information. 🙂

  3. What is the best way to get a retailer listed in the scanner? Also, how do you enter a gift, when there is not any retailer listed. Shouldn’t there be a general listing for gifts in the scanner (it would just say gifts). Also, we should have either a link on the scanner for general merchandise. This would cover my comment #1.

    1. Hi, what is the retailer you want added to the scanner? Keep in mind, we have somewhat limited space for store names.

      Also, please only enter gifts you buy for other people, not something you receive. If you bought a gift, or any item, but don’t see a specific Store Name, try to find the closest Store Type listing, and use that, if applicable.

      I will pass along your suggestion about the general merchandise listing.

      Thanks! And I hope that helps!!

  4. I notice that more and more things I receive from that “on-line retailer that shall not be named” don’t have UPC codes. Rather that have a private barcode that is useless to anyone but the richest man on earth. Do these items get accounted for in my monthly transaction log produced by the “Shop Tracker” app? Are my purchases being double counted because I put them in through the NCP app on my phone and then again when requested submit the Shop Tracker reports?


      1. I buy from every month but they don’t have barcodes and there aren’t any options for the things I buy because they are vitamins and personal care products or cleaners. Is there a way to record these things?

        1. Hi, unfortunately, some items are unable to be recorded. However, if you purchased other items, please include the price of this non-barcoded item in the TOTAL amount.

          1. Hi, I’m guessing these products don’t have a barcode … If that’s the case, in this situation those products can’t be recorded, since they wouldn’t be in the non-barcoded section. Hope that helps.

  5. I’m confused with the date I need to scan when I buy online. I received item I’ve purchased within two to a month after I made my online purchase. So do I backdate the dates when I receive the items? Also most of the items I purchase are deeply discounted because the site where I buy from is known for selling at a huge discount. I do not know how much the discount is. They just list the price. So are these items scanned as sale items?Some may be discounted some may not. I have no way of knowing either way.

    1. Hi, please use the current date, and just record the price you paid if you don’t know the discount. If you don’t know if they were discounted, don’t worry about sale item, etc.

  6. I agree with the general merchandise idea. Another one to add might be “other” in the food category. Just some ideas.

  7. Will you please add the drug reporting item to the NCP app. I forget to report and have inadvertently skipped weeks of reporting since I need to login on another device to report them

  8. When I receive online purchases am I supposed to just enter the price of the one item I receive then? Or am I supposed to try to figure out what the tax inn each item is as well? I know there is a cart option but that doesn’t seem to work if I have other purchases I’m scanning from the stores I am shopping at while waitingfor my other items to arrive. It will only allow me to store one trip and if I scan a different trip from another store then the previous things I’ve scanned disappear.

    1. Hi, yes, please enter the price of the one item you receive as soon as you receive it. Then record the next item when it arrives, etc. As for tax, please try to estimate and include it when you input the total price. Hope that helps!

  9. Hello! I’m sorry if I’m repeating a question, couldn’t find an answer: How do I submit Substitutes from Walmart Grocery Pickup/Delivery? Sometimes instead of an item you ordered, (that went out of stock by the time they are preparing the order) they put a similar item, usually more expensive, but their policy is not to charge more, than you originally paid, so the price I paid is actually for a different product (e.g. Store brand milk), than what I have a barcode for (Name brand milk).

  10. I generally shop twice a month, on the 3rd online and the packages arrive over the course of a couple of weeks and then on the weekend following the 11th. This takes care of 3 of the 4 weeks. If I went to another store near the end of the month I would be covered for the 4 weeks of most months. Being near the end of the month the finances will be near their end as well. Is there a minimum dollar amount to be counted as a weekly transmission?

    1. Hi, we ask that you record all your purchases. If some weeks you don’t have much to report, we still would appreciate if you could scan what you did get, even if it’s not much.

  11. Have I missed something…, what is the “Barcode Reference Booklet” and how do I get one? I’m assuming it’s to help enter a UPC code properly—something I’ve never been able to do….ever!! I’m not a rocket scientist but I doubt that’s a prerequisite…. nevertheless, I can’t figure it out! If the Booklet is something that would help me, how can I get one?

  12. I am going on vacation for a week where I’ll be spending quite a bit. I have the handheld scanner if I connect it to the router where I am staying, will that work?

  13. I have ordered make up online somewhat regularly but see no catagory for make up online I currently am a NCP Mobile user. The nake up has no UPC so I’m assuming I can’t use it as part of my shopping recording correct?

  14. I just purchased 2 bookcases online and delivered. It does not have barcodes and there is no option for bookcases. How do I record the purchase? Thank you

    1. Hi, if a purchase doesn’t have a barcode AND it can’t be found in the no barcode option (or Barcode Reference Booklet), unfortunately, the item can’t be recorded. However, if you purchased other items, please include the price of this non-barcoded item in the TOTAL amount.

      Thank you for trying to scan these purchases!

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