Money Saving Tips

How to Save When Shopping on the Internet

How to Save When Shopping on the Internet
Written by Irina Vasilescu

With the popularity of sites like Amazon and eBay, there is no doubt that the way consumers buy goods has changed over the years. Instead of only visiting brick-and-mortar shops to buy the items that they need, shoppers simply need to go online, pick then pay for the items they want, then wait for the package to be delivered straight to their doorsteps.

If online shopping is your main means of buying presents for loved ones or even everyday items for the house, how can you save money while doing so? And what are the advantages of shopping on the Internet as compared to buying from actual shops? Read on to find out.

Why It Pays to Shop Online

First, why does it pay to shop online? Take a look at the following list:

  • Convenience
    When buying Christmas or birthday presents, or when looking for gifts for special occasions, the traditional thing to do is go to the mall or superstore and get what you need from there. You’d have to drive to the store, look through the actual product displays and maybe suffer through long lines at the cashier if you are shopping during particularly busy days.

    When shopping online, you simply need to visit one or two websites, choose from the wide array of product options that the store has, then add items to your shopping cart. After paying for your purchases, all you have to do is wait for the items to be shipped straight to your doorstep. If you are giving the item as a gift, you can even enjoy the convenience of having it gift-wrapped then directly sent to the recipient.

  • Price
    Why do you think online retailers like Amazon has soared in popularity over the past few years? Aside from the convenience brought about by online shopping, buyers enjoy the added benefit of lower prices. Why? Because majority of online retailers do not have a physical store to maintain. They just need a warehouse to store all the goods which they in turn ship out to customers.

    Those who own brick-and-mortar shops need to pay for rental of the commercial store space, the sales staff who will assist customers and the cashiers who will conduct the financial transaction. Online store owners do not have to pay for such overhead costs so all the money that they saved can be passed off as discounts to customers. This is the reason why you are most likely to pay less when buying an item online as compared to purchasing the exact same item from a store.

  • Options
    Another reason why it pays to shop online is the number of options that you have. When you’re walking through a mall, it might be too tiring to go from one store to another just to compare prices, then go back to the store which you found out has the lowest price then make your purchase.

When shopping on the Internet, you can easily compare prices, check out online reviews and get user feedback so that you would know how a specific brand and model of a product performs.

There are even price comparison websites which let you do just that: compare prices in just one click, so that you would know which site to visit to get the lowest rates.

Ways to Save Money When Shopping on the Internet

Next, what are the actual ways that you can save money when shopping on the Internet? Here they are:

Get first dibs on sales, price slash offs and other promos by signing up for newsletters.

Unless you’re an impulse buyer, it is highly recommended that you sign up for newsletters to get first dibs on sales, price slash offs and other promotional events held by online retailers. These sites have a mailing list and the recipients of the e-mail are the ones who first get alerts whenever there are promotional events going on.

Let’s take Amazon.com as an example. They offer online users the privilege of being an Amazon Prime member where there is an annual fee of just $79. For this amount, you can get a free two-day shipping on a wide variety of items and there is no need for you to buy a minimal amount. This means that if you found a $15 gift item which you’d like to send to your favorite niece whose birthday you forgot, you can use the site to purchase and send the item – with no shipping fee. Other sites send out sale alerts, discount codes, vouchers and similar deals to those who will sign up for their newsletter.

Before adding items to your shopping cart, look for deals and coupons on specialty websites.

Let’s say that you are in the process of buying Christmas presents for your loved ones and you are doing it purely online. Prior to paying for your purchasing, you should check out websites which offer online coupon codes. Once applied on your online purchases, these codes will entitle you to a certain percentage off the price as discount, free shipping, one free item or other perks as a buyer. Some of the websites that you can rely on for this are DontPayFull.com, RetailMeNot.com, CouponChief.com and many others.

Always go comparison shopping.

As mentioned earlier, one of the biggest perks that you will enjoy as a shopper when buying online is the ease by which you can go comparison shopping. If you are buying items for the house, for example, you can check out sites like Amazon, Walmart, BestBuy and a few others. Which among these websites offer the lowest price for the item that you are planning to buy? What about the shipping costs? With just a few clicks, you can easily compare prices and get the best bang for your buck by going comparison shopping.

Use the Internet as a cheaper way of consuming premium TV content, or use it as your main means of communication.

Aside from shopping online, another way that you can save money through your Internet connection is to use it for communication and TV-watching purposes. If you still have a landline phone that you are paying a certain amount of money for per month, how about ditching it completely? These days, you can easily use Viber, Skype or other web-based software to place calls to virtually any place around the world.

The landline phone is just another extra bill that you might not necessarily need to pay for. If you have pricey cable or satellite TV connection, its costs will be significant as well. A more pocket-friendly option is to subscribe to streaming services where you can consume premium TV content at a fraction of the price. Another advantage is that you get to watch what you want when you are free, not according to the schedule of the cable company of the show you’re watching.

Harness the power of social media.

If you have Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social media accounts, you can harness the power of social media to save money when shopping online. Retailers usually come up with gimmicks and promotional events which they announce through social media, where you can win prizes, get discounts or earn points on purchases.

On the website of your favorite online retailer, check on their Facebook or Twitter link so that you can follow them. On your newsfeed or Twitter feed, you should see posts related to their social media promos – something that you would otherwise not be privy to, even if you sign up for their newsletter.

Visit websites which offer “Deals of the Day”.

For working moms, there are websites like BabySteals and MiniSocial where they can find heavily discounted baby items. These are “Deals of the Day” sites which means that you have to click fast, otherwise the promotional event will soon end. It may be a bit tedious to visit the sites daily but when you do find items that you like, the discounts are well worth the effort. There are other websites which offer daily, weekly or monthly deals where you can get anywhere from half to 90% discount on products and services.

Sell your own unused or slightly used items online.

Lastly, the Internet can be used for more than just shopping – it can also be used to earn money. Use sites like Craigslist or eBay to sell the unused or slightly used items that you have. Do a thorough cleaning and inventory of the items in your bedroom and the rest of the house which you are not using anymore.

If a garment which still has a label on it is simply gathering dust in your closet, you are most likely not to wear it ever again – so just sell it. The same thing holds true for exercise or kitchen equipment. Selling them online at a discounted price will give you significant earnings, not to mention the fact that doing so will help clear the clutter from your home.

What about you, what are the things that you usually do in order to save money when shopping on the Internet?

About the author

Irina Vasilescu

Irina Vasilescu is our crafty designer. She joined the team three years ago and is also involved in the writing process.

24 Comments

  • Some good tips here, but some really time consuming ones too. I don’t have time to read a lot of newsletters, even if they may contain information about good deals, the time Iose wading through may not make it worthwhile to me. There is also the very real risk of impulse buying because of finding a good deal. It is one thing to stock up on things you have to have regardless when you find a sale on it, but it is pretty wasteful to buy things you could have survived without just because it was a major price reduction.

    • I totally agree! As much as I’d love to find better deals online, I do sometimes feel that I don’t have the time to dig through different sites and newsletters to find the best deal. I’m also of the impulse-buying camp; if I see something I want that’s 60% off, it’s harder to remember that I’m still paying 40% for it – not saving 60%. That’s why I still do a lot of my shopping in physical, “brick-and-mortar” stores. If I go with cash, it’s easier for me to only buy what I need to buy – and not go splurge on something I don’t need.

  • Awesome tips. I am definitely a fan of shopping online but you definitely have to be careful about what you buy and where you buy it from. There are some great deals to be had by shopping online, especially this time of year just make sure you do your research to make sure that you are getting the best price possible on the items that you are shopping for.

    • I think if you stick to the large primary retailers like Amazon, Walmart or big brands like Levis and try and avoid the small-time shops you’re typically okay in regards to safety.

      It’s also fairly easy to do a quick search to determine whether or not the retailer you want to use is legitimate or not. You’ll find negative reviews and such fairly easily within the first handful of results with search terms like “site_name scam” or something.

  • Thank you for this informative article. The internet is now a global marketplace and it carries along with it numerous glitches as a result of the activities of man. An article such as this one proves to further open our eyes about some additional ‘dos’ and ‘donts’ of online shopping. I am in the Caribbean and online shopping for me is restricted to items which proves to be difficult to find here. Sometimes the price is also significantly lower than the average price locally. The variety may be more extensive and very lovely pieces may be obtained via this medium. One needs to keep eyes wide open to every single move he or she makes while shopping as some sites just pretend to be a shopping site to lure credit card numbers and unsuspecting shoppers away.

  • On the note of comparing between different vendors – you can often times take advantage of price matching policies too. If the stores carry the same model, they’ll sometimes meet and then beat the competitor’s price by a percentage.

    So it’s really beneficial when you find a sale going on somewhere, you can take that sale price and have a competitor beat it and get an even better deal on the item.

    • Price matching continues to grow in popularity as an option provided by retailers. Unfortunately, some unscrupulous consumers have chosen to game the system and take advantage of stores that don’t enforce their own policies strictly, both online and in stores. This is leading to a clamp down on such policies, ensuring that they’re air tight and, therefore, slightly less beneficial to consumers that could get away with very small, judgement-like price matches rather than outright questionable ones.

  • Also, you can always take a look at third party sellers on sites like Walmart.com, Amazon.com, and BestBuy.com. There are some risks involved, but they’ll often post low prices on popular items in order to lock in more sales. Consumers benefit by saving a little extra money, and most websites have a money-back guarantee to protect buyers from fraud and other problems. I highly recommend this option.

  • I thought this was a good article for the budget shopper. As a single mother I am always looking for a better deal and this article gives you ideas on how to maximize your savings. I have the retail me not app on my phone so that when I go out shopping I have coupons readily available.

    • Yeah, exactly. Using our phones to save is such a good advice. I do it all the time. I’m going to teach this to my mom to see if she’ll do the same as you!

  • For me it was very informative, usually I go to the major site like amazon and Walmart and shop. Usually I don’t compare prices, but I do love that they have reviews on the product .I have used online site like nomorerack.com and I like that they have daily deals. flat shipping for two dollars and money back guaranteed. I have notice a lot of sites are now offering were you can use pay pal so you can protected you credit card information.

  • Thanks for an informative article. I love getting the best price I can and spend a lot of time searching for coupons and discount codes. Money is tight right now so I have to make every penny count.

  • I think there are some great options for a person that is just starting out information for buying online that some might not already know. Yes it is very convenient to shop online because you don’t have to deal with a lot of people and different attitudes and you don’t have to wait in line. You just click the mouse and enter in a little bit of information. I think some people like the hustle and bustle of having to go out and shop but many busy adults prefer not to. I suggest this is a lifesaver for many that are so busy they don’t have the time to just go out and shop. This article gives some good information to those that might not have ever shopped online.

    • Yes, you are right. People over 50 tend to be reluctant to online shopping, fearing scams and things like that. What everybody needs to know is that, if you use a trusted brand’s website, you are totally safe.
      Oana Schneider recently posted…Top 10 Scams That Will Blow Your Mind!

  • Yup, I remember the saying about malls being expensive because of price of the rent; big Internet people like Amazon have no such problem, and they can just hire a bunch of non skilled worker at cheap prices as main d’oeuvre (which is harder in boutiques because, well, customer service)
    Also: in stores you have the clerk to assist you and help you figure out if you want a product. Online, it’s pretty much people-powered with the different reviews and all.

    I love the spending power of the internet; easier to get deals and to make comparisons!

  • I agree that signing up to newsletters is a great idea. There are certain brands that I like, and I am therefore signed up to receive messages whenever their stuff goes on offer. That way, whenever it is on offer, I buy it and stock up so that I have enough to last until it’s on offer again. I will never pay full price for things if I don’t have to do so, and this is something that I feel more people should do, as saving money can be easy.

    Especially online, because there are so many options. If I see something that I want, I will never buy it from the first place I see, because I just know that there’s every chance that it would be better elsewhere. So I will have a shop around before buying things, even though I do sometimes end up right back where I started.

  • I would like to add that you can often use a cashback site when shopping online, These sites pay a small amount (often a percentage of your spend) when you place an order with various stores, which can soon build up if you shop online regularly. Some of the best sites to use are Topcashback, Swagbucks and Inbox Dollars.

    • I have not heard of that one. This is kind of like the point card system that the malls in my area are doing. A rebate system of sorts? How does it work though? With it, I presume that you must have an account on those sites. It is interesting to note. Let me take this down and note it. ^^

  • I always find products cheaper online versus in store. I’m not talking a few bucks difference either; I just bought something originally priced at $80 for $35. It’s the same exact brand. I also got free, two day shipping. It’s so much easier than having to spend the gas and time to go in store.

  • I usually do shopping with coupons or gift cards, as you suggest. You know, bidding is amazing for this, as well. You can go on ebay and bid for whatever you want, for the price you want it to be. This way you’ll probably get low prices on really good items. People win stuff all the time like this and it’s always great to try. Your advices are on point, I’m going to be reading this once more to check for anything I may have missed.

  • I generally do not buy a lot of things online yet. I only buy games through Steam. There are seasons when the site offers games and I wait for those. It is really convenient to but my games than to find the nearest game shop for PC. For me, it is a 2 hour bus ride, really inconvenient.

    I cannot yet shop on Amazon though, I am worried with the shipping since I am not living in the USA. I am surfing around its local equivalent instead, though have not bought through them yet.

  • For the last two years, I have done almost all of my Christmas shopping online. I absolutely love it! I’m not a shopper, and this has allowed me to enjoy buying gifts again. We are members of Amazon Prime, so I save a lot on shipping costs alone.

    I also do the coupon code look up as you suggested. Now that I have found this blog, I’ll know just where to come.

    One thing you mentioned that I did not know about, was the “Deals of the Day”. I am certainly going to start looking for those as often as I can. Thank you for the great suggestions!

  • We love the ease of shopping online and not having to make a special trip searching through a store hoping they have what you want. The process is so much easier over the web!

  • Most people have NO idea how many great deals and bargains you can get online. You only need to go to Google and search for coupons, or promos. Vouchers and referrals can also be found this way. Downloadable software and digital copies of music and movies too, are only priced at a fraction of what they would be if you’d buy them at a store.
    This article’s advice on making the internet your primary means of communications is also on point. Everybody knows phone bills are a hassle, and if they can be avoided then I say avoid them. Stick to Skype or facebook for your communication needs. I’d also recommend netflix instead of paying for cable. Paying for cable is paying for garbage.

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