The past couple of decades has seen brick-and-mortar become overshadowed by their online counterparts. And while some shops have been able to avoid this—the popularity of Microcenter among tech enthusiasts has kept it alive—many stores have either closed down or have shifted their focus onto online storefronts.
This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, either! But learning the ins-and-outs of online shopping can take a while, and newer online shoppers are often tricked or scammed into spending more than they actually need to. Today, let’s go over a few tips and tricks for online shoppers that will work in 2021 and beyond.
8 Tips for Online Shoppers
1. Use a VPN for Regional Pricing
Not all currencies are equal in value. Therefore, products are priced differently from country to country. This is especially true for software such as video games and creativity programs, which regulate prices depending on where the software is being sold.
Unfortunately for some countries, these changes in price means spending more on a product thousands or millions of others spent less money on. There is one trick, however, that works a majority of the time: VPNs.
Virtual Private Networks allow you to change your server location, essentially tricking websites into thinking you’re located in a country of your choice. In other words, a VPN download allows you to get the best pricing available.
Be careful where you do this, however. Certain software storefronts like Steam ban accounts that are involved in doing this. And yes, you will most likely be detected.
2. Set Alerts For In-Demand Items
Certain products—products like new graphics cards or processors, for example—sell out quickly, and the recent COVID pandemic has hurt shipping times enough to ensure that many won’t be able to get their hands on certain products until the middle or end of this year.
To avoid playing the waiting game, set up alerts for products you want on multiple storefronts. Sites like Amazon, Newegg, Best Buy, and other online merchants allow you to receive emails or texts whenever a product you want becomes available.
3. Download Honey for Potential Savings
Online storefronts can’t and don’t tell you everything about a product, especially when it comes to pricing. If Amazon were to display the price history of its own products, that would hurt sales. Therefore, that data is off-limits to consumers. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t programs dedicated to doing that.
Honey, a shopping-dedicated app, displays the pricing history of products for most major online storefronts. Honey will tell you if you’re receiving the best price or if the product is at its “historical low”.
Along with a product’s price history, Honey will also automatically enter potential savings coupons, though these codes are iffy at best.
4. Wait for the Nearest Holiday
Sometimes you want a product then and now. However, certain products and equipment are best bought during certain holidays. For example, TV purchases are best done during Black Friday or major sporting events such as the Superbowl.
Take a look at what you’re hoping to purchase and when you think it may go on sale. If there’s a holiday near, it’s best to wait and see if it goes on sale. But there is one downside to this: the product you want may sell out on said holiday (such as a Black Friday deal).
It’s certainly risky waiting for a sales holiday, but hey, if you want a deal, you have to take risks! And waiting for the holidays before making a purchase is a low-risk tactic.
5. Invest in Smart Rewards Programs
If you find yourself shopping on a certain website, think about joining their smart rewards program. A good example of such a program would be Best Buy’s membership program, which rewards you the more purchases you make, offering you discounts and coupons.
Other online storefronts may offer optional subscriptions—Amazon Prime, for instance—that reward subscribers with free access to services and offer early deals. The point is, if you use a website frequently, make sure you’re being rewarded for it.
6. Sign Up for Promotional Deals
Keeping up with all the deals websites release to the public on a daily basis is difficult, if not outright impossible. Fortunately, most shopping sites let users sign up for promotional deals and offers that they would receive either through email or text.
Some of these sites may even allow users to filter the type of promotional deals they receive. If not, however, that’s ok! You may be able to find deals you never even thought about looking for!
7. Look Out for Cashback Offers
Companies love offering cashback offers on their products. But why would a store like losing money? Well, they don’t!
Despite some products being sold with cashback offers, many buyers never cash out due to the frustrating process of receiving said cashback. Usually, fulfilling a cashback offer requires the buyer to sign and mail a form to the company—a process many don’t want to put themselves through because it’s so dated and time-consuming
But if you happen to come across an item you want and it’s being sold with a cashback offer, then why not use it? Even if you never use it, it’s nice to have the option.
8. Be on the Lookout for Coupon Codes
Earlier, I mentioned Honey and one of its features that applies discount codes at checkout. I also mentioned that Honey’s discount codes are, at best, finicky, and at worst, useless.
If you desire a more personal touch to discount codes, then check out the multitude of sites that are dedicated to logging coupons and discount codes for various sites.
That said, not all of the codes found on these sites will work, but many of them are user-entered, meaning there’s a decent chance at least one of them works.
Online shopping is the same thing as regular shopping, except you can shop from the safety of your couch instead of going out. And just like in-person shopping, there are ways to find the best deals. With these tips, your online shopping experience will see a major improvement.