Online shopping has made it much easier for all of us to buy what we want when we want. We can now shop 24 hours a day from the comfort of our own homes.
Shopping online allows us access to thousands of retailers and to view and compare prices all with a few clicks of a mouse or taps on our other devices so there really is no reason for us not to spend a bit of time, learn to be savvy shoppers and save ourselves some hard earned money.
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Price comparison sites
Like any purchase it is best to shop around for the best deal and thanks to the wonders of the internet it is possible to compare the prices of the same product at hundreds of different shops online in a couple of seconds by making use of price comparison sites or shopbots as they have become known such as PriceGrabber, Kelkoo, and Pricerunner. Financial comparison sites such as Moneysupermarket and Comparethemarket are useful if you are looking to buy insurance, take out a loan, etc.
It is very important to understand that these price comparison sites do not compare all the retailers who sell an item you are looking for but they still give a savvy shopper a good indication of the cheapest prices available from the ones they do search. The prices shown in comparison sites normally also include the price of delivery so you know from the start how much you are going to pay.
The price comparison sites will probably include a large number of small or online retailers that you have never heard of and many people feel more comfortable buying from the cheapest name that they recognise and feel they can trust. If you do so see a bargain from a shop you have never heard of then the chances are the shop is legitimate and you will receive your shopping without any problems at all but to be safe it is best to look up customer reviews on them before you part with your card payment details.
Save on delivery charges
Delivery charges can add a fair amount to the cost of our purchases. There is no point spending ages comparing prices of the product if you are going to ignore delivery as some retailers charge more for their products but offer free delivery. Others charge less but hit you with a delivery charge so you need to be savvy and pay attention to the total cost of your purchase.
Some retailers such as Amazon offer free delivery if your order is over a certain amount. If your order is just under the threshold which seems to happen fairly regularly then it is worth searching for an item costing only a few pennies to get the free delivery as this can save you pounds on the delivery charge.
A lot of retailers now offer the facility to have your purchases delivered to a local store or collection point as they can deliver in bulk and save on postage costs. Sometimes this can be a bit of a hassle but other times it can be a good call as it means you don’t have to hang about until your purchase has been delivered.
Rather than simply clicking through on the shops identified by the price comparison sites savvy shoppers can save even more money by doing their shopping through cashback reward sites such as Quidco and Topcashback. Cashback sites reward you with a percentage of the value of your purchases as a form of commission for shopping online at shops such as Tesco, Boots, Marks and Spencer, Boohoo, Sky, and hundreds of other retailers.
Some people are hesitant about using cashback sites as they sound too good to be true but these sites earn a commission from the shops and then will share this commission with you as a thank you and to encourage you to purchase other items from other shops where both you and them will earn a further commission.
The cheapest way to buy is to identify the cheapest site from a price comparison site and to see if you can gain cashback if you buy through cashback reward sites such as Quidco or Topcashback. This way not only do you buy your shopping at a low price but you earn cashback as well.
Loyalty cards and schemes
If you are shopping online then remember to use your Nectar card, Boots Advantage card, Tesco Clubcard, IKEA Family, and other loyalty reward cards by entering the details at the checkout to ensure you are awarded the points which you can redeem later for free stuff or vouchers to give you an even better deal.
If you are shopping online it is also worthwhile when the payment screen comes up and asks if you have a promotional code to do a quick Google search for the name of the shop and ‘promotion code’ or ‘discount code’ to see if there are any current offers than you can take advantage of to reduce the price of your shopping further.
Timing your online purchases
If you are not in a rush and can time your purchases well in advance so can save some pennies with your online shopping. If you can hold off buying that expensive TV or electrical advice until after Christmas you can save a fair bit of cash in the January sales.
Similarly, if you can buy your winter coat for next year in the Spring or your beachwear in the Autumn you can save cash as the retailers are desperate to clear space in their warehouses for the current season’s demands.
Credit card rewards
When you do buy online then it is worthwhile paying for your shopping with a credit card. Credit cards give you extra protection over your purchases should anything go wrong. Not only do credit cards give you this extra protection but some credit cards offer cashback and rewards for using them which can help you save money further.
Abandon your basket
Many retailers automatically track your habits online and if they see you put several items in your basket and then abandon it several of them keen not to lose the sale are sending out discounts or vouchers to people’s email accounts.
Abandoning your basket has been proven to be a way to receive discounts or offers. However, it only works if you are registered and logged in to your account with the retailer online so they can identify you and can send you a voucher.
As well as shopping at shops online it may be worth trying to pick up a bargain from eBay, Facebook groups or Gumtree. These all sell second-hand goods normally cheaper than the shops. A lot of people receive gifts especially for Christmas or birthdays that they don’t want and try to flog them cheap on these sites and that is where a savvy buyer like yourself could pick up a real bargain.
Your rights if things go wrong
If you are buying online then you actually have more rights than had you bought your item from a shop in your High Street as you are protected under the Distance Selling Regulations which gives you 7 days after you receive the goods to cancel the contract. There are some exceptions such as fresh flowers and foods. To cancel you need to write to the seller and send them the goods back (you will probably have to pay postage costs unless the goods were faulty). The seller will then have 30 days to refund you your money.
For more information about your shopping rights have a look at the Office of Fair Trading or Citizen Advice Bureau websites.
Shopping can be fun but it doesn’t have to be expensive especially if you are a savvy shopper.