When you compare online shopping to shopping in brick-and-mortar stores, it’s easy to see why so many people prefer to buy products with their computers and phones. Shopping online makes it easy to see more types of products than you could ever find in a single store. If you don’t like the prices on one website, you can look elsewhere without moving anything other than your fingers.
Another feature that makes online shopping so popular is the instant gratification factor. If you’re the type of shopper who hates paying “sticker price,” though, you can save a great deal of money if you delay gratification just a little.
Join Mailing Lists for Personalized Deals
In a 2014 survey commissioned by savings website RetailMeNot, 59 percent of respondents stated that coupon codes directly impact their online buying choices. Many online merchants know that discount codes can increase their sales, so they create coupon codes that never expire and adjust their prices to compensate.
You may not always get the best deal, though, if you use a coupon code found on a review or discount website. Many merchants will sacrifice some of the profit from the first sale to a new customer in exchange for the ability to market more products to that person in the future. Before buying from a company for the first time, join the company’s mailing list and check your inbox for a personalized discount.
Many online merchants invest a great deal of money into “conversion optimization,” or encouraging undecided customers to complete their purchases before changing their minds and shopping elsewhere. To get the best price possible when shopping online, act less interested than you really are.
If you’re using a desktop or notebook computer, try hovering the mouse pointer over the navigation bar at the top of the browser window. A pop-up window may display a coupon code with a discount that’s only valid if you complete your purchase immediately.
If you don’t see a coupon code when you move to close the browser window, create an account on the merchant’s website and add the product that you’d like to buy to your shopping cart. By doing these things, you’ve given the merchant your contact information and indicated which product you’d like to buy.
You’ve also signaled to the merchant that something is preventing you from completing the purchase. If you don’t return to the website for several days, you’ll probably see a coupon code in your inbox. Bass Pro Shops, Bed Bath & Beyond and OfficeMax are just a few of the companies that automatically offer discounts to customers if they leave without buying.
Buy Products out of Season
Often, the worst possible time to buy a product is when many others want it as well. You aren’t likely to get a great deal on a swimming pool in July, for example. The same is true when you buy products online. Nearly every product has a demand cycle and few merchants want to hold inventory longer than necessary.
If you buy a product when demand is lowest, you’ll save money. If a tech company has just released a new smartphone, buy last year’s model. Shop for sweaters during the summer. Buy Christmas decorations when the holiday season is already over.
Buy Products That Last
In the effort to save money when shopping online, many consumers hunt for the lowest possible prices without pausing to consider the quality of the products they’re buying. Have you ever fallen into that trap and purchased a product that required replacement as soon as the warranty expired? You could buy several men’s undershirts from a big box retailer for the same price as one shirt from UnderFit, for example. It’s doubtful, though, that the big box retailer would promise years of service from a discount undershirt compared to a higher quality men’s undershirt. Sometimes, you do get what you pay for.
Chat with Support
Have you ever seen a “Chat” link in the corner of the page when shopping online and assumed that the link would send you to an automated script rather than a real person? Actually, many businesses with the resources to hire live customer service staff stopped using automatic scripts to handle customer inquiries years ago because live chat increases conversions and customer retention.
When you shop online for “big ticket” items such as furniture and exercise equipment, use live chat to your advantage and ask for a special discount. A customer service representative often has the power to do almost anything to close a deal. Some companies even allow their reps to adjust customers’ shopping carts manually, inputting discounts that wouldn’t be available with coupon codes. Provide a valid email address when initiating the chat session in case you decide not to buy the item. The seller might try to entice you back via email with a larger discount.
With these tips, we hope we’ve helped you save a bit of money on your next online purchase. In general, saving money online boils down to just a few general tips: walk away if you need to, but give the merchant a way to contact you; buy quality products that last, don’t buy products when demand is highest, and never fear asking for a better price.
Guest post by: Anica