Save money when you shop online

       

Mo Saffaf

As the world moves through its digital age, online shopping is the one area that has been highly invested in and continues to grow and develop. This shift to online retail has brought with it many advantages beyond the convenience of shopping from the comfort of your own home or on the go. This guide from 247Moneybox.com will help to demonstrate some tips and techniques that can help you save money when you shop online and reduce the need for you to take out a payday loan.

Why can online shopping be cheaper?

It is important to recognise that online retailers aren’t restricted by the ever increasing overheads associated with the day-to-day running of physical stores. The lack of additional operational cost can thereby lead to savings on products offered to consumers. This is therefore one of the key benefits of online shopping, but there are a number of others also worth noting.

If you take fashion, for example, you will typically be able to find clothing ranges online that are off-season and are thus no longer stocked in high street stores. They will pass the savings on to you as a consumer because the online retailer’s margin isn’t affected by storing them in warehouses. Not having a deadline to sell their stock within a specific time frame allows them some latitude on pricing their stock more competitively.

Online retailers have the further advantage of having efficient - and quite often automated - communication channels with their consumers. Their interfaces tend to be smooth, intuitive and user-friendly. This allows a more personal but less invasive touch with their customer base, who are then also able to learn of the availability of discount codes and deals that are clearly visible and advertised.

These offers are readily accessible and findable on a plethora of price comparison websites. Moreover, price comparison sites enable consumers to quickly get a sense of the quality of a particular product as well as the service provided by the retailer through customer reviews and ratings. This not only supports decision making for purchases - reviews can also offer insights into cheaper or more incentivised pricing elsewhere on the market. You may find that many online retailers offer free shipping or incentives on taxable fees for their products too.


shopping online using mobile phone

Window shopping

It has become more commonplace for customers to window shop on the high street then search for the same or similar product online for better deals. While this has sadly had a negative impact on the traditional high street retail market, this has allowed consumers to benefit from increased savings. Some online retailers even have scan codes associated with their apps for products seen in physical retail shops, which quickly allows you to compare the price available if you were to purchase the same product online rather than in-store. High street stores have had to adapt to this competitive edge and some have even adopted this same model, whereby they have an app associated to their specific retail outlet that again allows you to scan barcodes on products in order to get more information about them as well as customer reviews and ratings.

Other new technological features that have recently come to light are a number of plug-ins. These can be found and installed online, either retail or app-specific, which then operate in the background of your phone app and/or browser to detect offers or coupons and deduct savings on the purchase automatically.



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Beware of cookies!

One thing to be wary of as an online shopper is the “dynamic pricing trap”. This is where consumers are offered tailored or bespoke deals based on a variety of different circumstances, which may include your address or specific current location, as well as how much the product is being purchased in your area. This is why you might find prices change when you click on the ad link a day or two after seeing a deal or a discount pop-up online. Online retailers have become quite adept at taking advantage of consumers by hiking prices up in this way.

There are some quick and simple ways to avoid these discrepancies by:

  • Using incognito mode on your web browser
  • Clearing any cookies on your browser
  • Logging out of social media and email accounts

Pick the best day for deals

This might be a bit tricky to find, and not everyone has the time to dedicate specific days for online shopping, but it is common for certain products and services to offer deals and discounts on certain days of the week. This may vary according to your location, but a quick search online should help direct you to the best deals on certain days, as will customer forums and review sites.


girl carrying shopping bags

Try to collect from the retailer

In certain instances, particularly if you are using an online retailer that also has a physical store, it might be worth investigating whether you can save yourself some money on delivery costs by physically going to the store and collecting. Many retailers also deliver to specific depots for a cheaper or no delivery cost at all. The location of the depot or storage place may be quite convenient, for example on your way home from work, or alternatively you may have been planning to visit your local shopping market or high street anyway and therefore could save both time and money by opting for a collection of your purchased item. Of course, you have to weigh up the convenience of doing so and it is worth shopping around to see if you can find similar items online that have no or little delivery costs in comparison to the offer that you intend to take.

  • You do not have to wait for your item to arrive
  • Missed deliveries - as you will be picking up the item directly there is no chance you would miss collection

Other tips and techniques to be aware of:

This somewhat refers back to the dynamic price change mentioned earlier. If for instance you find yourself in a scenario where you have purchased a product that is suddenly on offer the following day, then you shouldn’t be afraid to request a refund on the price difference. Many online retailers accommodate this request if you contact them within a short timeframe with all of the relevant order information and screenshots showing the deal. Online retailers would rather ensure they maintain you as a customer while protecting their reviews and ratings than worry about minor differences in price reductions - these minor differences matter to you as a consumer but large online retailers will value your relationship with them, and the longevity of it, more.

This is often ignored by online shoppers because we are accustomed to pricing in standard retail or high street stores being the final or bottom price, but online shopping offers a different dynamic when it comes to pricing incentives. For example, you may find that deadlines on certain deals, offers or discounts have expired on products you were quite keen but didn’t get around to ordering or perhaps saw too late. In this case, it is completely acceptable to contact their sales or customer services teams in order to negotiate an agreement. You’ll find that, more often than not, an online retailer will be keen to finalise a sale with you as this keeps you happy and hopefully you will order from them again, but also because they are fully aware that you may find similar or cheaper pricing by shopping around online. The worst that will happen in this scenario is that they’ll reject offering you the original discount, so you really have nothing to lose on this basis.

Certain websites may allow you to use more than one promotional or discount code on their platform, so be sure to use these intelligently so you are getting the highest level of savings, e.g. by applying a percentage discount first before using a £5 off voucher.

While it may seem somewhat unorthodox, if you have an account with an online retailer, leave some products in your cart for a number of days. This is useful from a money saving aspect in that it will give you a bit more time to really evaluate whether or not you want the product, can afford them or indeed find a better offer or price elsewhere on the market. A further advantage of doing this is that you might find that the online retailer reaches out to you directly via email or through an app to offer you a discounted price or coupons to help them seal the deal.

Signing up to a website with various email addresses and accounts, or perhaps even using family contact details and emails too, can help you to maximise the number of deals, coupons, discounts and promotional codes received for use on a particular online retailer’s website as this will enable you to spend overall.

Although, as we’ve mentioned previously, most online retailers have the advantage of not having to worry too much about seasonal trends and storage, in some instances there are savings to be made, particularly on larger seasonal items like outdoor equipment, garden tools or furniture. In the case of furniture, for example, this is much harder to store for longer periods and the online retailer will be keen to get rid of their inventory sooner.

Stay safe by using a credit card

At 247Moneybox.com, we value your online safety and security. Thus, on a final note, we feel it is worth recommending that you should try to use a credit card where possible for larger transactions online in the interest of your own financial security. Should there be any issues with the deal, the service or delivery of the product, you are then able to claim some level of insurance or compensation as most credit card companies do offer protection on transactions over a certain amount. It is also worth consulting with your credit card company to see what your rights or the level of protection you have, particularly if this is something that has happened to you in the past or you are planning a large online spend in the near future.

Conclusion

Shopping online can help you save money, especially when compared to high street shopping and the additional costs associated with it. However, by being aware of these tips and techniques, you might be able to save even more. Saving money could help prevent the need for you to take out an online loan.