E-commerce sales are growing by leaps and bounds. According to analytics from Internet Retailer, over 14 percent of retail sales were made online in 2018. While around 40 percent of those sales were made on Amazon, the online retail giant, plenty of other stores are represented in this number. From big box stores, such as Walmart and Target, and department stores to homemade items sites, airlines and much more, you can buy virtually anything you need from the comfort of your couch.
However, online sales can also be somewhat sneaky at times. If you are not careful, you may find yourself paying more than you need to for your products or shelling out big bucks for shipping.
Here is a complete list of tips that will will help you save money while shopping online and avoid online discount scams so that you can buy even more.
1. Store Items in Your Virtual Cart
The first tip to help you save buying online is to be patient. While it can be incredibly easy to click mindlessly and to complete your purchase immediately, waiting for a few days before paying can save you some money. Many stores take note of what you have saved in your cart and, if you are logged into the site, will send you a reminder email along with a coupon code within a few days to induce you to come back and complete your purchase.
Another similar option is to make use of a shopping site’s wishlist feature to store your favorite items until they decrease in price.
2. Sign up for a Cash-Back Site
Even if you cannot score a discount from the Website that you are shopping from, you still have several other options to help you save while shopping online. Some independent sites offer to give you a percentage of your purchase back in the form of cash, a gift card or a charitable donation if you shop through their affiliate site or send them a picture of your receipt. The best of these sites promise top-notch security so that none of your private information is stolen.
Some of the best, scam-free, savings Websites and apps in this category include the followings:
- Checkout 51
3. Check for Coupon Codes
Checking for coupon codes is almost a no-brainer these days especially if you have spent any amount of time browsing sales online. However, knowing how to best use the coupon codes you have can be tricky. Many online stores let you stack coupon codes to get the most savings.
Consider using a percentage of your entire purchase coupon along with a specific discount-off coupon. You may be able to find coupon codes directly on the store’s Website, in marketing emails you receive, in direct mailers and online. Some of the best scam-free Websites for finding up-to-date coupon codes include the followings:
- RetailMeNot (If you’re in EU here you have the French site)
- Coupon Sherpa
4. Compare Retailers Online
Nowadays, if you know the product that you want, you may be able to find it on several different Websites for a wide range of prices. Therefore, you will want to shop around, remembering to compare coupon savings and shipping fees for each site before deciding where you can find the best deal.
One of your best bets is to do a quick Google Shopping search for the exact product that you need. Google will list all of the various Websites where the item is sold and will give you a quick estimate of the cheapest store.
Sometimes, smaller, lesser-known Websites may offer surprisingly great deals that you would have missed without this comparison step. However, be sure that the Website you choose is trustworthy by looking for reviews on it if you are unfamiliar with the site.
5. Use a Separate Email Account for Marketing Emails
Of course, one of the best ways to collect plenty of your own coupon codes is to sign up for email sales alerts and loyalty emails from your favorite Websites. However, the number of emails that most stores send out each week can quickly become overwhelming if you do not have a system for dealing with them.
Instead of using your primary email address for store emails, set up a separate email address just for this purpose. Then, when you make your next online purchase, sign into your secondary email address and search your emails for the desired store. You may even want to set up several secondary email addresses so that you can score multiple coupon codes that you can stack on top of each other for even greater savings.
6. Search for Clearance, As-Is, Refurbished and Scratch-and-Dent Products
Nearly every store markets its best and most expensive products on the home page where they quickly draw you in despite the hefty price tags. However, do not look down on shopping for items that may not be bestsellers or newly released products.
Sometimes, you can find amazing deals on the Website’s clearance page. In addition, as-is products, refurbished electronics and scratch-and-dent items typically still work amazingly well, and many may look nearly new.
7. Shop at Top Sale Times
Another great reason to be patient when shopping online is that your waiting may be rewarded with an amazing sale. Consider waiting until holiday seasons, such as Black Friday, President’s Day, Memorial Day and nearly any other holiday, so that you can take advantage of the huge one-day deals that many Websites offer. Most major Websites will offer at least one large sale every month.
8. Know the Right Day to Shop
Believe it or not, you can save while shopping online by choosing the correct day to shop for individual products. Here are some common products that you can buy online along with the best day to buy them according to Lifehacker.
- Airplane Tickets: Tuesday
- Jewelry: Wednesday
- Clothing: Thursday
- Electronics: Monday
- Books: Saturday
- Appliances: Sunday
In addition, many companies lower their prices at the beginning of the week following their large weekend sales.
9. Buy a Season Ahead of Time
If you are not super picky and if you do not need the newest possible products, you can score huge discounts by purchasing items up to six months in advance. By choosing this strategy, you are outwitting all those people who shop at the last minute for seasonal items, such as swimsuits, Christmas trees, patio furniture and winter coats.
For clothing, consider what you and your children will need for the next major temperature change so that you can shop for final clearance products online. For example, April and May are great months to shop for winter apparel at incredibly low prices while September and October will get you great deals on summertime clothes. This strategy also works well for seasonal merchandise and outdoor decor among many others.
10. Pick up Items in Store to Save on Shipping
Although many retailers offer free shipping to customers spending over a certain amount or to those who are part of their loyalty programs, you may not fall into the right category to score free shipping on your online purchases, or you may not be shopping on a Website that offers free shipping.
It can be discouraging to discover just how expensive shipping can be especially after you have gone to all the work to find great coupon codes and discounts. So, if the Website offers it, consider choosing the free ship-to-store option so that you can pick up online merchandise at a local brick-and-mortar store.
11. Make Larger Orders to Save on Shipping
If you do not have the ship-to-store option, you may once again want to exercise some patience so that you can place a larger order. Keep your desired items on a virtual wishlist or in your online cart until you have enough items to bump your order over the free shipping threshold.
12. Clear Your Browser History and Cookies
Surprisingly, the low price you saw a few days prior may no longer exist because some Websites jack up their prices for return customers. While this often happens on airline Websites, it can actually happen nearly anywhere you shop online. If you notice this happening to you, you may be able to get your price back down by clearing your history on your Web browser and clearing your cookies as well. The next time you shop, it will be as if you are a totally new customer.
13. Consider Requesting Refunds for Price Drops
Have you purchased something online one day only to notice that the price has dropped a significant percentage a few days later? This can make you beat yourself up as you think of just how much money you could have saved if you had waited.
However, you may still be able to cash in on this new price by requesting a price adjustment. Start with the customer service department of the online store. If they do not honor the price change, you may be able to work with your credit card company instead. In fact, today several credit card companies protect you against price drops within certain time frames by refunding you the money themselves.
14. Choose a Cash-Back Credit Card
One way to save buying online even if you have exhausted your discounts, coupon codes and smart shopping moves is by shopping with a cash-rewards credit card. These cards typically offer you a percentage back either in an adjustment in the amount you owe them or as a check sent directly to you. Over time, you can rake in from 1 to 5 percent on many of these cards, which can equal significant savings over the course of a year. Some of the top cash-back cards for everyday online shopping include the following:
- Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa
- Chase Freedom Unlimited
- Capital One Quicksilver
- Citi Double Cash Card
How to Save while Shopping online: a recap
Of course, the best way to save major money while shopping online is to combine as many of these tips as you possible can. By shopping on the right day during a sale, by stacking several coupon codes and by cashing in on free shipping while paying with a cash-back credit card, you may be able to score unimaginably huge discounts.
Let your preparation, organization and savvy shopping sense pay off for you whenever you shop for your home, yourself, your family or others.