The Reserve Bank of Australia claims that consumer restraint is giving retailers a difficult year and it’s set to continue. However, online retailers are bucking this trend, with Australians having spent as much as $18.9 billion in online shopping in 2009, and are forecast to spend at least $20 billion in 2010.
Without the overhead that brick-and-mortar stores have, online retailers are able to offer bigger discounts and lower prices in general. Bargain shoppers have figured out the best deals are on the web. Here are six ways you too can save big by shopping online.
1. Compare Prices and Reviews
In the past, price comparing meant spending the day driving all over town, looking for the best deal going store to store. When shopping online, you can compare prices from the comfort of your home and even get websites to compare prices for you. Some search engines will even tell you how much shipping will set you back, and how the vendor is rated in customer service. You can even get customer reviews on the product you’re considering.
2. Find Discount Codes
Are you getting the best deal possible? Before you buy that product, do a quick search for discount code; a simple search with your vendor name, like “Target coupon code,” will get you the results you need. If you’re just browsing try searching for “coupon code discounts”. Many vendors will offer you a one-time, first-time customer discount if you sign up for their email list – a great way to save, if you don’t mind the emails.
3. Look for Free Shipping
Consider all of that gas you’re burning, driving to buy that item you want. You can save the fuel and the time by shopping online – plus, many vendors offer free shipping to sweeten the deal. For some items, like furniture and other bulky things that you would otherwise have to pay your local retailer to deliver, this can mean big savings. Just make sure that the price of the item isn’t inflated to accommodate the shipping cost.
4. Unite and Save
Larger groups of people are often offered discounts. Now, there’s a way to do this online. Websites such as Jump On It search for brilliant deals (on everything from day spas to dance lessons) and if enough people sign up for the deal, you get a substantial group discount.
Most people are familiar with eBay, and how you can bid on items to get a lower price. But there are many other auction sites where you can get a bargain by bidding online. One word of caution: it’s very easy to get caught up in the bidding process and overpay. To make sure you don’t get lost in the frenzy; make sure you’re bidding on an item you truly want, and set a price limit beforehand.
6. Print Coupons
The Sunday paper isn’t the only place to get coupons anymore. You can now print them on your computer, and bring them in to the store. Certain websites will let you print coupons with barcodes to cut your grocery bill; just check with your grocery store to make sure they accept printed coupons. Signing up at your favorite store’s website will often get you coupons, too.
The Bottom Line
Still hesitant to shop online? Even if you’re not buying on the net, web browsing is a smart way to do your research, from comparing prices to checking if your local store has the item you want in stock.
Sometimes the website of your local store has your purchase at a lower price than advertised in the store, in which case they’ll likely match the price. Whether you’re buying online or not, with these tips, the web is your superhighway to big savings.
This information was written by Claire Bradley of Investopedia.com