Since my job requires me to be online during most of my work days, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that I do a LOT of online shopping. Not only is it quick and convenient, but it’s often necessary. I love living in my mountain valley town, but it means a 30 minute drive to a nearby city to get anything you can’t find in a standard grocery store. Online shopping (especially with my Amazon Prime membership) means I can order things from the comfort of my own home, saving gas, time, and my sanity. :-)
I would consider myself pretty knowledgable in the ways of online shopping. I find some pretty great deals from time to time! But a lot of the tips that I gathered for today’s post, I knew NOTHING about! I was shocked by quite a few of them, actually! Hopefully you find these tips as useful as I did!
10 Tips for Smarter Online Shopping
1. Track prices. When you shop online, prices are constantly changing. Retail sites usually have a complicated algorithm that raises and lowers prices based on a number of factors, like your purchase history, the day of the week, trending items, etc. Prices can even change multiple times in the same day! You can track prices on camelcamelcamel or Savelist, and sign up to receive alerts when the items you want are on sale.
2. If you buy a lot of stuff from a particular brand or store, be a super-fan! Some websites offer better prices for members, so take some time to make an account before making a purchase. Follow stores and brands you love on social media, and sign up for their email newsletter – you’ll get exclusive deals and early notification of upcoming sales.
3. Look for deals from different devices. Some sites offer different prices based on the device you’re using. For example, a shopper using a Mac computer may see a higher price, because the algorithm assumes that shopper has a higher income. Try accessing a site from multiple devices to make sure you’re getting the best price.
4. Open a “private session” or “incognito window” in your browser when searching for airline tickets or hotel reservations. Once the site determines you’re interested in a particular flight or hotel, the prices may increase. The same goes for standard online shopping, so delete your browser’s cookies and cache regularly when shopping online. (Visit Ask Leo for a comprehensive explanation of how cookies work, and how to clear them on most browsers.)
5. When you’re ready to start entering your information to make a purchase, make sure the page is secure. You can tell by looking at the URL of the page; if it starts with “https”, it’s a secure site that will encrypt your information. Don’t enter your information on a page that doesn’t have the “s” or the lock symbol. And avoid sending personal information in emails, too.
6. Have a healthy level of skepticism about any retail site you haven’t visited before. Do a quick Google search for comments and reviews about the site – you’ll figure out pretty quickly if a site is dangerous or a scam.
7. Buy more, less often. Shipping fees can be pretty steep on some retail sites, but you can minimize them by buying more items, less often. So if you find something you like, bookmark it, and wait until you have 2 or 3 other things from that same site bookmarked before you buy. You’ll also use less packaging materials, which is an eco-friendly plus.
8. Don’t check out immediately. Some sites have measures in place to avoid “abandoned carts,” where someone puts a item into their virtual shopping cart, but then doesn’t immediately go through the purchase process. Some sites may offer a discount or free shipping just to make the sale, so if you don’t need the item soon, it’s worth a try to let it sit in your cart for a while!
9. Always check for a coupon code during check out. Open a new browser window, search on Google for “coupon code + [store/site name]” You never know what you might find!