Shopping online could already be saving you tons of cash compared to high street purchasing. But what you might not know is that there are even further ways you could drive down the cost of your shopping! It’s all a case of being a shrewd consumer and knowing what to look for when eyeing up the best deals.
In this guide, we’ll take you through our top tips on how to save money while shopping online. Even if you feel you’re already getting a great deal, that doesn’t mean prices won’t fall even further! Read on to learn more about how to make online shopping that little bit cheaper.
1. Sign Up for Email Lists
It may seem like you’re signing yourself up for a lot of spam and junk mail, but believe it or not, some of the best deals and discounts come straight from the inbox. Email newsletters offer plenty of opportunities for great discounts to come seeping through. If you’re not keen on signing yourself up to newsletters with your traditional email address, set up a free account – for example with Gmail – and use that address solely for deals.
You may be finding that you get access to more money-off vouchers than ever before. Businesses use email marketing as a way to engage with their customers in a very specific way. Therefore, you should certainly take advantage and start claiming back some serious cash. Don’t be afraid to sign yourself up for an email list or two.
2. Use Comparison Sites
Is the product or service you’re buying likely to be sold elsewhere? This is where comparison sites come in handy. While you’re likely sick of seeing their advertising on TV and online, they do serve a fantastic purpose, and can even net you some exclusive deals and freebies in the bargain. Get yourself over to one of the more trusted sites and search around for what you need.
Some comparison sites will let you contrast and compare shopping and one-off purchases, while others will let you look through phone contracts, energy tariffs, insurance policies and more. It pays to compare through these sites – otherwise, you could end up having to do a lot of the research yourself.
3. Read User Reviews
We always make a point of saying this, but verified user reviews are always so important! Reviews left by verified buyers at certain sites will let you know what you can expect from deals, and whether or not what you’re buying is actually worth the money. People are more inclined to be honest online than ever before, which means it will pay in your favour to check out what the masses are saying on Google, social media and more.
You should also look at reviews on individual products, not just on companies as a whole. Take a close look at what people have to say about the products you are thinking of buying, and if there isn’t enough to go on, or if a product appears to be inferior to what you expect, you could save yourself a ton of money in the bargain. Don’t be willing just to go ahead and buy an item because it’s cheap. User reviews will tell you whether or not it is actually worth you making the investment.
4. Don’t Close the Live Chat Window
You may have already been through a few sites which offer a pop-up window for live chat. This can seem annoying at first; however, you may actually be able to save yourself some serious money. When a live chat window opens, don’t be afraid to ask the customer service agent on the other end whether or not there are any live discounts. If there are, you will be advised of any promo or bonus codes which you can apply to your shopping before you checkout.
Plenty of people don’t know about this little trick, and while it may not always work, if you don’t ask, you’ll never know. Therefore, do make sure to take a chance. Even if you feel a little cheeky doing so, it could make all the difference to whether or not you actually buy a product!
5. Sign Up for Voucher Codes and Deals
Sometimes, deals and codes aren’t always freely available from an online store directly. Therefore, it makes sense to sign up with third-party voucher code services to uncover hidden deals and offers you may well have missed. These sites will scour the web for hidden deals and offers which are completely valid for you to use at checkout, which may bring down the cost of what you’re paying.
Sometimes, voucher code websites can be a little hit and miss. However, signing up for email lists with these sites will often give you access to incredible deals and money off as soon as certain codes become available. If you’re tired of finding expired codes, this is always going to be the best course of action to take. Once again, make sure to set up a special email address to ensure you are free from spam.
6. Use Social Media
Social media, such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, are all great platforms for deals to pop up with big brands. As a follower, you’ll often get access to big deals and bonus codes as and when they’re made available. In fact, some brands even state outright that you should follow their social accounts for exclusive deals. If you’re worried about company posts clogging up your social feeds, again, think about setting up a separate account so that nothing filters through to your everyday accounts.
Social media is a great platform for people to claim great deals. It’s a great way for brands to connect with their fans and customers, too. Therefore, plenty of them will be willing to share some goodies with you just for sticking around. Even if you’re not already on social media, it’s worth signing up to get your hands on some exclusive freebies.
7. Time Your Shopping
This takes a little bit of practice, but there are plenty of websites and tools out there which can help you keep track of sales and price drops on certain items. If you’re a shrewd shopper, you’ll know when some of the best deals become available. One of the best examples of this, of course, is to buy up Christmas-related paraphernalia in January. Many stores, even online brands, will be striving to get Christmas goods moving off their shelves as quickly as possible. Buy up now, and save them for next Christmas!
You can also take advantage of season-related price drops, too. Fitness equipment will likely spike in price around the New Year as people start to focus on resolutions. You’ll find these products cheaper to buy in the middle of the year. You can also buy summer essentials for less during winter, too – such as certain clothing lines or gardening tools.
8. Don’t Be Afraid to Buy Second Hand
It’s nice to own new things; however, you’d be surprised to see how much extra you can expect to pay for items fresh off the shelf. Products like new, or barely used, will often go for relative bargains on sites like eBay. It may not seem too appealing to buy second-hand on some products, but consider whether or not you actually need your products shrink-wrapped and off the production line.
eBay has an air-tight feedback system which protects its buyers, and sellers are required to offer legitimate information about the items they are selling. Therefore, you can buy online with them with more confidence than you’d think. Why pay double the price for a new product when you can get it reasonably on eBay in a condition you’d be happy with?
9. Consider Cashback
In a similar vein to voucher code sites, do keep an eye out for cashback retailers. These sites will give you money back when you shop through their links. If you shop online regularly, you may be able to claim back a small percentage of what you pay for through a third-party vendor. It can be a great way to get money back off big purchases, meaning it’s well worth keeping your options open.
There are plenty of these sites around, and while they may not be the best routes to take if you only buy online sporadically, they could help to shave down some serious costs. Cashback may be offered to you in the form of a bonus transferred into your bank or e-wallet at a later date, meaning you get a nice little payday surprise later in the month once you reach a certain threshold.
10. Wait Until Black Friday or Christmas
If you’re really interested in an item which just isn’t dropping in price, make sure to hold on as long as you can. Black Friday and Christmas are great times of year to be shopping, as much online stock is dropped to affordable rates for a limited period. It’s all part of encouraging people to shop online during the festive season when they are likely going to be investing in presents.
There’s nothing to say you can’t take advantage of these price drops and deals to buy goodies for yourself! You may even find useful household items and tools at cut-price this way, too. This rule generally applies to high street shopping, too, but deals will be more obvious to spot online through a variety of retailers. If you can hold on, do so – and pick up a bargain.
11. Shop With the Right Cards
This tip shouldn’t be taken lightly, particularly as signing up for a credit card is a financial agreement which may result in debt piling up if you don’t take care of it adequately. However, if you have used credit cards before, or are likely to be sensible with your purchases, you may find some credit card deals offering you a certain amount of cashback on purchases within your first few months of signing up.
Do make sure you check the fine print and conditions on any and all credit cards you consider signing up for. Otherwise, you may end up racking up large bills that you simply can’t control. Using cashback deals on credit cards will help you to slice big purchases into tiny fractions, meaning they may be worth considering if you have big buys on the horizon.
14. Use Loyalty Cards
Are you finding that you shop with the same stores and brands over and over again? Make sure you sign up for loyalty cards. One of the biggest cards on the block in the UK is Nectar, which is largely ranked up by buying shopping through Sainsbury’s. You can earn Nectar points through Sainsbury’s online grocery shopping, too. What some shopper may not know is that you can also earn Nectar credit through eBay, too.
Loyalty cards are great at giving you money back providing you are a regular shopper with certain brands. If you diversify your shopping a lot, this may not be worth you doing. However, take a look at your shopping habits and see if you can narrow down your loyalty and get some cash back.
15. Get Tailored Discounts
Depending on who you are and what you do, you may be able to get specific discounts at certain online retailers, as well as on the high street. For example, people who work with the NHS, the police or with the fire service can get special discounts providing they hold a certain card. The same goes for members of the Armed Forces, too.
The biggest discount card of them all in this case is, of course, the student discount card. If you are studying full-time, no matter what age, you could get up to 50% off your regular shopping. These discounts are provided by NUS, who will need to see evidence that you are a full-time student and are entitled to the benefits.
16. Don’t Complete Checkout
This is a nifty little tip that not everyone knows about, so do make sure you take full advantage. If you leave your shopping in an online basket, a store may well enquire as to why you haven’t completed your purchase.
Online stores are able to track baskets easily, and the drop-off rates for people failing to complete checkout are a big issue for many. If you leave your shopping in your basket for long enough, you may not just get a reminder that your shopping’s there – you might get a discount to help you finish what you started!
As with some of the tips on this list, this isn’t always guaranteed to work. However, as previously stated, you never really know until you try.
17. Go Cookie-Free
This is another sneaky tip that shrewd online shoppers will want to make a point of putting into action. Did you know that online stores can track your shopping behaviour, and can build profiles on you based on what you’re likely to buy? Believe it or not, some stores can alter their prices and discounts for certain shoppers based on cookies – for example; first-time buyers may be given better deals on specific lines.
To take full advantage of the best rates and to compare potential differences, either delete your browser cookies or go into private or incognito. This way, your browsing and behaviour won’t be tracked, and you can access process as if you’re a new buyer.
18. Avoid Unnecessary Delivery Charges
To save money on delivery with some online stores, you may do well to stock up on what you’re buying. Some stores, for example, may charge £6.99 flat rate for delivery, unless you pay more than £20 – when delivery charges are dropped. It could make all the difference between spending £19 and paying extra for delivery – can you find something cheap to bring your basket up to price?
19. Can You Get What You Want For Free?
This sounds like a bizarre point to be making, but you may actually be able to get the products or items you want by looking at freecycling sites. One of them, in fact, is called Freecycle – and it’s a site where people willingly give up items for free providing you are willing to go and collect them.
Providing you are happy with second-hand goods, this may be a great way for you to save on paying anything at all!
20. Know Your Rights and Read the Terms
Above all, to save as much money as possible online, always read the terms and conditions. Don’t get caught out by hidden fees, and know your consumer rights. These should be easy enough for you to spot in online store fine print.
While you may not be able to get big discounts this way, you can at least protect yourself – to some extent – from potentially costly moments or big wastes of money later on down the line. Be smart – and always trust your gut!