7 Tips To Score The Best Shopping Deals Online
Knowing where to look and what to watch out for are key to scoring the best deals online.
One major selling point of online merchants is convenience. With just a few clicks, your dream item becomes yours without the hassle of leaving your home. And e-commerce has been steady in its trajectory of offering a wider range of products and services. And it’s still growing.
Data from MasterCard’s Online Shopping Survey revealed that more than 58.8% of Filipinos accessed the internet to shop online in 2014. This is a huge jump compared to the 40.2% of respondents who said they logged on to the internet to shop a year earlier.
Almost anything you can think of can now be sourced online: from books, furniture, clothing, to booking flights, and renting out rooms. The very definition of online shopping can no longer be limited to retail giants such as Amazon or eBay. It’s not just products either, people are now getting accustomed to getting services digitally like booking a cab or a ride to work with GrabTaxi or Uber.
The best part of it all is that since you just have to browse between websites when shopping around, it is way easier to find the best deals online!
To help unleash your inner bargain-hunting prowess unto the digital world, we’ve listed some tips on how to scout for discounts the next time you shop online.
1. Use your credit card
Your credit card is a treasure chest and your best go-to companion for deals and promos. It offers a variety of freebies and discounts on dining, leisure, gadgets and more. Visit your card’s promo page for a complete list. Sometimes you can get cashback or rebate on top of an already discounted item from an online store! Double discounts are always good. You can also check out our credit card promo picks this August 2015!
2. Follow prominent bloggers
There are all sorts of bloggers out there. Some specialize in fashion, and beauty, others in food, and some in travel. Companies often reach out to them to endorse their products and some come with sweet deals and promos. Follow their blogs or their Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to instantly be updated on the latest promos or even discount vouchers.
3. Window shop physical stores to know what’s in stock and check their regular retail price.
Knowing ahead the original price of an item can make you score a great deal when you find a similar item online offered at a huge discount. This is essential since online retailers can mark up the retail price in order for the discount to look significant. Also, be mindful of delivery charges when buying from an overseas-based retailer.
4. Follow your favorite brands on social media
Facebook and Twitter are the places to haunt to get the latest information on deals and promos offered by your favorite brand. Companies often post exclusive access to events, promos and deals to their followers. Don’t forget to sign up for newsletters if you’re really a fan of a site as that’s usually the best way to get news of a discount and additional vouchers.
5. Be mindful of forex conversion
Exchange rates fluctuate daily. When buying from an international retailer, most would show the price of the items in dollars. If you can wait for the days when the peso is strong against the dollar at around P41-P42=$1 then you’ll be able to save hundreds to thousands of pesos.
If you are paying via credit card, make sure to check your card’s forex terms. Depending on your card, banks slap an extra charge for international currency transactions, also called foreign transaction fees, which can range from 1.75% up to 3.5%.
6. Clear your browser’s history and cache
Sometimes you can get a better deal by simply clearing your browsing history and cache. Websites, for example, airline sites use an algorithm that makes ticket prices go higher each time you view it. If you are canvassing prices and taking time mulling your options, clear your browsing history first when you finally decide to book.
Or better yet, use incognito mode with a VPN! Yes, there is another use for that mode. 😉
7. Use location to your advantage
Perhaps you notice some websites ask for your location before redirecting you to a local version of their website. Similar to the example above, you may be able to book a cheaper flight if you book through the local site of an airline. Although time consuming, comparing rates from different base locations may come out cheaper than simply sticking to what is available by default.
Before you Google your next bargain, always remember that the World Wide Web is chock-full bogus deals that may lure you into giving sensitive information such as your bank details. Always be attentive before clicking on a link and take note of the following reminders to make your online shopping as painless as possible:
- Stick to a trusted seller. Rule of thumb: always do your research first before making any online purchase. Ask around if you’re unfamiliar with a particular merchant, or read reviews online. Remember that you are potentially entrusting your credit card information to an online merchant. And you don’t want to accidentally give your information to phishers and scammers.
- Sign up with different passwords for different online merchants. The last thing you want is having a security breach in one site or merchant and letting the hacker have access to the rest of your online accounts. It’s hard to keep track of multiple passwords, but at least use a unique password for sites or apps which you know you’ll be using for transactions.
- Read the merchant’s return policy. One drawback of buying online means you won’t have a chance to inspect an item beforehand. You’ll most probably find defects, or decide the color throws you off only after you receive it. By then it might be too late to have it refunded or replaced if you suddenly find out that neither option is allowed. Also make sure to check for warranties and other similar policies.
- Pay it safe. If the merchant offers you several payment methods, opt to pay via credit card. Never pay through your debit card or through wire transfer. If something goes wrong, and you don’t receive the item you already paid for, you can still call your credit card company to dispute the charges. But if you paid via debit or wire transfer, your cash is as good as gone. Make sure to ask for your card’s fraud protection policies before making any purchase online as an extra layer of protection. Some banks offer refunds for fraudulent transactions if you meet certain requirements.
- Always check your credit-card bill online. Make it a habit to always check your credit card transactions. It’s especially important to check if you shop online a lot. This way you can immediately catch if there are any unauthorized purchases. Always keep your receipts and compare them with your bank statements to check for fraud, and immediately report the incident to your credit card company if you find one. Regularly checking your bill online will also allow you to monitor your expenses. You don’t want to be surprised at the end of every month with how much you’ve spent.
- Avoid shopping at internet shops or over free public Wi-Fi. Never make purchases online while you are connected to a free public Wi-Fi. Hotspots at malls and coffee shops are a playground to hackers. They can easily tap into an unsecured Wi-Fi connection and get your personal information. The same goes for shopping online at internet cafes. Internet shops can phishing grounds of hackers, who can get the accounts of a lot of people in just one computer.
- Always check the URL. Be wary of phishing sites! These are sites that look like a legit online store (even one that you shop normally at) but are actually fakes! These are quite common and as soon as you key in your personal information, it’s as good as stolen. Keep an eye out on the URL to see if there are any oddities to the domain name.
The online realm can be a haven for some of the best deals and bargains if you know how to find the right one.