If you know what you’re doing, then the internet can be the most cost-effective way to shop and save thanks to its global marketplace and ease of access. Knowing the following tips and tricks can go a long way to ensuring you’re getting the most for your money by leveraging the unique qualities of e-commerce so that they work for you.
Shopping around for the best offer is a perennial piece of wisdom that ensures you’re getting the best deals out there on any service or product you’re looking to engage with. In recent years, websites have grown up catering to this need by collating market prices in one place, empowering you to make informed decisions on where to spend your money. Platforms of this nature can be found for many areas of life, from services that compare promotional offers on gaming sites, to those designed to ensure you’re getting a good quote on your car insurance. If you’re in the market for something, it is good practice to check first whether such a website exists for your chosen product sector. If no such website is available, it can be relatively simple to compare and contrast prices across a range of platforms. One way to do this is by opening separate sites in groups of tabs so you can see all available prices before you. This can be made easier by opening a spreadsheet or making a table in a web-document and jotting down all the various costs and sources for the product you’re shopping for.
There are certain times of the year that are better than others when shopping for products and services. Knowing when these are in advance can result in a huge pay-off. For example, if you’re in the market to replace an expensive consumer electronic, such as a laptop or television, waiting for the yearly Black Friday sales, which coincide with America’s Thanksgiving holidays, will ensure that you get the biggest cut-price deals on this product category. Other significant sales periods, like the Boxing Day sales, can result in mammoth savings of up to 80% on select products as suppliers attempt to shift last season’s stock ahead of the new year. If you’re in the market for a product that is strongly associated with a particular time of year (think swimsuits in summer, or ski clothes in winter), choosing to shop for these in the off-season can net you fabulous deals. Finally, if you know a particular product is late in its refresh cycle and is likely to be replaced by next year’s model, this can be a great time to get a deal on the present model. As product cycles are more often iterative, with big refreshes less often, in most circumstances you can rest assured that you won’t be missing out by forgoing the latest and greatest version of your desired item.
Image recognition algorithms have come on in leaps and bounds over the past decade. Services such as Google Lens can place an augmented reality overlay onto the real world and analyse the scene for searchable information. This runs the gamut from being able to identify objects and products, to even reading and translating text. Google’s image search can also be accessed for this purpose, by either right clicking in a supported browser and searching by image, or even uploading an image directly to the website and running a search with it. The reason that this is so useful when it comes to cutting costs online, is that many products you find on the internet are drop shipped. Drop shipping is a commerce practice wherein suppliers list products on marketplaces like eBay and Amazon and then have those products sent directly from the site of manufacture to you. This saves a drop shipper from having to own physical warehouse space, and keeps costs low.
What this means for you is that you can find many iterations of the same product online, all competitively priced. Often these products will have different names and be marked under different brands. However, is it common for drop shippers to use the marketing images supplied by the manufacturer. This means that many products are listed with identical images that can be searched using technology like Google Lens. In doing this, you can collate all instances of the same product and compare prices to ensure you’re getting the best deal.
It’s always a good idea to explore whether the site you’re shopping at offers free shipping over a certain value. The reason for this is that the discount that is warranted by qualifying for free shipping can often end up being a sizable percentage of your total costs. If you were on the fence about adding a certain item to your shopping basket, noting whether it impacts this discount can help make that decision much easier. What’s more, if the items you’re shopping for are perishable and frequently replaced by you, buying in bulk can lead to larger long-term savings over and above the free shipping threshold.
There’s a Coupon for That
Since the rise of Groupon in 2008, internet coupons have become part and parcel of people’s e-commerce experience. Groupon is still an immensely popular and effective means to save money on selected products and services, with 50 million customers using the platform daily from 48 countries. Simply search its enormous directory of local businesses from over 500 cities across the globe to find the best deals near you. Getting into the habit of checking for coupons regularly can ensure you’re making the most of the service by nabbing limited time offers.
New to the field, but making waves, is a browser extension by PayPal called Honey. Honey is a phenomenal add-on that ensures you’re getting the biggest discount on your purchases automatically. This is because Honey searches the internet for the cheapest valid promo-codes for the products you’re buying and applies them to your shopping cart. Currently supported by over 30,000 businesses, Honey is said to deliver an average saving of 18% on supported products.