While visiting an offline store still has its charm, there is something to be said about the ease and convenience of using your phone or computer to search for and buy something online, pay for it with a few clicks and have it delivered to you. Each shopping website, bank and wallet provider is trying to offer the best possible deal.
Patanjali Somayaji, co-founder of the Walnut App, lists seven ways to save money when shopping online.
Compare prices and set alerts: First decide what you want to buy and then compare prices across shopping sites. Set price alerts for products you’re interested in, so you can be notified when available at your desired price. There are several dedicated price comparison websites and browser extensions which show prices of items across major shopping portals and let you set alerts for product price.
Maximise cashback and discount offers: Every shopping site has partnerships for cashbacks and discounts with one or more banks, either on an ongoing basis or during special sales. Before going ahead, always check the terms and conditions — such as minimum eligible purchase or maximum discount or cashback on offer. In case of cashback, in how much time will it be credited, and will it be to a wallet or your credit/debit card. Some sites offer an additional discount or cashback on purchases from their mobile app. If there are several offers on a product, check how best they can be combined to get the best deal possible.
Maximise offers on bank cards/wallets: All banks and wallet apps now flood us with dozens of emails, SMSes and notifications about special deals and offers. These could be for product discounts and cashbacks, for purchase via their app, or even use of their credit/debit card/wallet during a certain period or beyond a specific amount — irrespective of which site you buy from. They may offer bonus reward points too. Set filters or labels to track such mails and ensure you don’t miss out on offers.
Check for free delivery: Check if delivery is free or if there is a cost. Some sites have free and priority delivery for premium members. Most online shopping sites are now a marketplace, so there is a lot of competition among sellers too. For all products, sites display a list of offers from other sellers. From there you can check which seller is offering the best price, free or paid shipping, and also their seller rating to indicate how reliable they are.
Track online shopping spends: It is easy to get carried away with all the deals and offers and overspend without realising it. Use an app to track such spends based on merchant and category. You can also add tags like #Online to view all your online shopping spends at a glance and if you’re going beyond your budget.
Check product reviews: If an offer price seems too good to be true, check reviews for that product. Reviews on the shopping site could be biased or fake, although there are genuine ones as well. There are other websites that publish product reviews too. Keep your budget and requirement in mind — what works for someone else may not work for you. Check if friends or colleagues have bought that product, and their experience. Reviews may also indicate if the product shown is a previous version, hence priced lower — but if it suits your need, go for it and save money.
Use your social network: There are dedicated Facebook pages and Twitter accounts that share deals. You can also ask for opinions and recommendations on social media and others will be happy to share their experience or suggest lower priced alternatives for a product.