You know it! I’m a frequent online shopper. Why? Because online is where I often find the best prices. It’s also where I find items that I just can’t find at my local brick and mortar stores. So yes, online shopping is integral to my overall shopping strategy.
Over the past few years of online shopping, I’ve learned a few things. And along the way, I’ve developed a list of things I do most every time I shop online. Tips that can help improve your own online shopping savvy. Tips to help ensure you get what you want on your next online shopping adventure.
Arm yourself with these tips and the shoppers’ knowledge they provide, and you too will find yourself cashing in on some great deals.
Know The Retailer
Found a great deal at an online retailer you’re not familiar with? Check the retailer’s website for contact information. Is there a phone number, address, an email? If no contact information is provided, move along. Credible retailers will provide contact information. Also take a few moments to research the retailer’s credibility. A quick Internet search of the retailer’s name with the word, “reviews,” should provide the details you need to verify the retailer’s credibility.
Rule of thumb – Only purchase from reputable online retailers.
Read Product Reviews
Get to know the product before you buy it. Spend five to ten minutes searching and reading product reviews. There are lots of sites that can provide product reviews. Simply start with an Internet search for the item you are considering purchasing. Then review several different review sites to obtain as fair and objective review as possible.
Rule of thumb – Compare reviews from several sites, if possible.
Know Product Retail Prices
Knowing a product’s suggested retail price will help you determine whether or not that online price is worth a buy. First, check the product manufacturer’s website to find the suggested retail price (MSRP). Then, search online product prices. A simple Internet search is often all that’s needed to find who sells that item, and for what price. These two searches should help you make smart online buying decisions.
There are also several online pricing tools that can help guide you to the best prices and even link you with coupons for your pending purchase. My personal favorites are Mr. Rebates, Retail Me Not, Invisible Hand, and Amazon.
Shop often with a favorite retailer? Sign up to receive their email notifications and blogs, follow them on Twitter and Pinterest, Like them on Facebook. You’re now in the loop for their latest sales and promotional offers.
Rule of thumb – Compare MSRP with online prices.
Read Shipping And Return Policies
Paying high shipping fees can turn a great deal into a dud. Know before you buy how much shipping fees are and what it might cost to return an item. Always check if an item is non-returnable. Also, beware of restocking fees. Most clothes and smaller items don’t have restocking fees, however, big ticket items such as TV’s, furniture, and exercise equipment might. Bottom line, play it safe and spend five minutes reviewing a retailer’s shipping and return policy. And if the retailer doesn’t post one, you might just want to skip shopping with them.
Rule of thumb – Seek out the lowest shipping and return fees.
Plan Purchases To Save On Shipping
Need that item for an upcoming event? Don’t wait until the last minute. You might incur hefty shipping fees that you could have avoided if that item was ordered just last week. Place orders early enough so you can chose the lowest cost shipping option.
Buying several items? Combine them in one order to reduce shipping fees. Also check if the retailer offers free shipping after a certain purchase amount. Retailers often offer a threshold after which your purchase ships for free.
Shop with friends! Combining orders with friends is also a great way to save on shipping fees. And it’s just plain fun.
Rule of thumb – Planning can save money.
Purchase Only From Trusted Websites
Don’t even think about purchasing from a non-secure website! Learn more about how to make safe online purchases at Ensure Your Next Online Shopping Trip Is Safe!
Rule of thumb– Don’t buy if you can’t verify a website’s internet safety.
Purchase With A Credit Card
Credit cards are the way to pay for online purchases. Credit card companies offer purchase protection if your card is stolen, limit liability to $50 or less for unauthorized or fraudulent charges, and provide an avenue for dispute if that purchase is not as promised, or an item isn’t delivered.
If you frequently shop online, consider having one credit card exclusively for online purchases. That’s what I do. I have a card that offers great consumer shopping protection, including zero liability for consumer fraud, so in the off-chance my card does get hacked, I’m protected.
Rule of thumb – Pay with credit, not debit, cash, or checks.
Keep a Purchase Record
Either print a copy of your purchase details, or save the email confirmations and communications between you and the seller. Or both. If something goes wrong with your purchase and you need to contact the seller or return the item, you will most likely need this information.
Rule of thumb – Documentation can save the day.
Inspect Items Upon Delivery
Always open up that box as soon as it arrives. Make sure everything you purchased is inside and is in the condition and quality that you expect it to be. It’s easier to make returns now rather than later. Also, retailers may limit the number of days you have to make a return.
Rule of thumb – If you must return, begin the process immediately.
Listen To Your Shopper’s Instincts
Last but not least, follow your instincts. If that purchase doesn’t add up, just don’t buy it. If 80% off that Louis Vuitton bag seems too good to be true, it probably is.
See? With just a few tips and tricks, practically anyone can be internet shopper savvy! And it’s a great way to save money too.
Do you frequently shop online? Do you have any online shopping tips to share? Let us know in the Comments section below.