The popularity of online shopping has grown rapidly in recent years, and the global e-commerce industry is predicted to exceed a trillion dollars by 2015. In the US, Black Friday has become an international event, with retailers promoting holiday goods even beyond the borders of North America. Citizens from around the world tapped into this one-weekend buying frenzy. Although the UK, Australia, Canada and the US are the prime customers, this ‘globalizing internet culture’ is also becoming widespread even in the Middle East. In fact, a survey released early in 2012 revealed that almost 50% of shoppers in Qatar use the internet to make purchases.
All of this begs the question – is shopping online really saving people money? Many primarily use online shopping to search for airline and concert tickets, plus music downloads and medicines. Of course, user habits vary widely throughout the world, but here are a few ways that you can use the internet to your advantage when making purchases.
One of the best parts about online shopping is the fact that you can easily browse and compare items without leaving your living room. Booyah! There are plenty of price comparison sites available for a variety of items. These sites are particularly helpful when it comes to shopping for expensive lifestyle goods – including hotels, flights, and package vacations. Of course, you can also carry out your own specific comparisons easily without trawling around a series of shops in order to find what you’re looking for.
Online shopping doesn’t just have to be just for travel, however. You can also use the internet to find great rates at different banks and brokerage houses. Do you want to make your money work for you? Then, search around for the best savings accounts. Or, if you are taking out a loan, shop around online to find the best interest rates for borrowing money. Often time, the best available rates are found only on the internet.
Coupons and Vouchers
There are many sites dedicated to providing vouchers and coupons. Whether you are looking to dine out, enjoy a luxurious spa day, take advantage of discounts on high street items, or take the whole family to local attractions, you can find great deals by jumping on your computer. Search around for those relevant to your area before making your selection. Are you looking for savings on something specific, like groceries? You might be able to go online and find printable coupons for offers on specific items. If you are in the US, check out sites such as CouponMom.com.
Investing some time in your social media accounts may help you save your cash when shopping in the future. By liking your favorite retailers on Facebook, following them on Twitter, and sharing their posts, you will be able to keep track of special offers and discounts that are only available online. Additionally, many companies run competitions and giveaways, so keep your eyes peeled and do some research.
Returns and Shipping Fees
One way to have your budget blindsided is by not understanding an online store’s delivery fees. Make sure to carefully check these out. Usually, you can avoid paying delivery fees – or at least get a discount – by ordering several items at once. A retailer’s return policy is also important. Make sure that it is free to return your goods before purchasing – especially if there is a chance that you may either dislike the item or that it may not fit. If you purchased the item from a large chain retailer, you may be able to take your returns to the nearest store rather than mailing them back, which will speed up the return process.
Overall, shopping online certainly has its advantages, and there are an abundance of money-saving techniques. Start by using these tips, but feel free develop your own money-saving methods too. Your pocketbook will thank you for it!