10 tips to get the lowest price when shopping online

Internet shopping is never quite what it seems. Prices can change, items can come and go, and someone else always seems to have got what you’re after for less than you. These tips for online shopping will help you get the best internet deals you can. There’s a lot more to getting online bargains than just cutting out the middleman.

1. Deals - promotion codes and easy discounts

A perfect example of getting the best deals online is using a promo code. The more time you put into hunting them down, the more likely you are to save. Always look for them before making a purchase from an online store. Websites like TopBargains.com.au, OzBargain.com.au and ShopADocket.com.au will often post coupons that are valid for the store you’re using. Some will give you a small percentage discount on your overall total, some will enable free shipping, and others can offer a discount on multiple purchases. International sites like RetailMeNot.com and coupons.com can also be useful for Australian shoppers, while the web browser extension Price Blink will automatically search for coupons while you shop no matter where you are.

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2. Stack your deals

Another way to get the most out of online discounts is to ‘stack’ offers, or apply them in the correct order to maximise your savings. For example, if a retailer like Barnes and Noble or Amazon allow you to use multiple offers, make sure you apply the ‘10% off’ before the ‘$15 off’ to maximise the savings.

3. Email lists

Sure, sometimes they can be annoying and edge into ‘spam’ territory, but if you’re able to plan ahead on a big purchase, signing up to the email list or joining the membership of some retailers can help you sniff out bargains you would otherwise miss. Some retailers will offer you a discount just for signing up to their mailing lists. Use your discretion. You can always unsubscribe once you’ve nabbed that bargain.

4. Social networking

The same goes for social networking. This often works better for small and local retailers that may not invest in email marketing. Facebook is often the best place for a smaller retailer to announce and advertise a sale or a brief discount on some product lines. Again, use your discretion.

5. Compare and contrast

Sites like Gimme.com.au, Getprice.com.au and FlipIt.com.au let you compare the prices of the same product at multiple outlets. This can be very handy if you’re making a big purchase like an appliance and you’re not able or inclined to go from shop to shop. This can be especially useful when navigating the post-Christmas rush or the American Black Friday phenomenon. Your 28 Degrees card is your friend in this scenario, enabling you to accompany the cheapest price with no fees on overseas purchases.

6. Deal sites

Deal aggregating sites like AllTheDeals.com.au and Couponic Australia scan online retailers to find the best deals and the biggest product sales currently underway. They can also send you alerts if you’re after something specific. These sites can be very addictive so are generally only recommended if you know what you’re after. It’s also worth being careful of what information you’re sharing – there is often a trade-off of personal information for some of the sales advertised.

7. Price tracking

If you’re not in a hurry, then there are a number of online resources that can track prices and alert you when an item goes on sale. Much like airline trackers can alert you when a flight route goes on special, sites like CamelCamelCamel, which tracks prices on Amazon, which covers major Australian retailers, or will let you know when a price drops below a threshold you determine. Both sites have highly customisable options and are ideal for sourcing a specific bargain.

8. Rewards programs

Loyalty programs can be a great way to find a bargain, especially if you have a favourite retailer. Online retailers often feel the competition acutely during periods like the lead-up to end of season sales and will often offer rewards for joining loyalty programs during this time. After one purchase you can often begin getting discounts on subsequent purchases or exclusive loyalty-club offers.

9. Live chat

Simply logging in to a live chat function can have surprising results. Asking a customer support official whether there is a promotion code they can provide you can lead to a code being offered, especially during Cyber Monday, Boxing Day sales or Black Friday when the competition between retailers is especially fierce.

10. Waiting

As strange as it seems, simply waiting until a coupon or promo code becomes available can often be the best way to make a big saving online. Timing a purchase can make a big difference. Also, retailers have totalled that around $2 trillion in products every year are abandoned in the ‘shopping cart’ stage of purchasing. To counter this, it can pay to fill your shopping cart, abandon it for a few days and come back to find a discount code, or an automatically cheaper price.

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