Over the past 3-4 years, online shopping has caught on in a big way in India, especially with special and festive sales several times during the year. With yet another sale coming up shortly, here are some online shopping tips to save money.
Online shopping tips that help you save money
1. First, make a shopping list
An obvious tip but a time-saving one. Decide in advance what to buy so you can save a lot of time by zeroing in on the best offer for that product instead of just aimlessly scrolling around different websites/categories for deals.
2. Compare product prices
Once you have decided what to buy, you can check various price comparison websites or even browser extensions that let you compare prices of items across major shopping portals. Some also mention details of any additional offers from banks/merchants which can help to save money when shopping online.
3. Cashback, discounts, coupon codes – check the fine print
Most shopping sites have partnerships with one or more banks during major online sales, for credit card or debit card, whether as upfront discounts or cashback, or even EMI offers. In addition to these, there are dedicated coupon sites which share some of their affiliate commission with you if the purchase is made via their website or referral link. However, ensure you always check the terms and conditions before choosing to avail of those offers:
a) Discounts given upfront (which reduces purchase price) are always preferable
b) If cashback is being offered, check how much time it will take to be credited to your account/card
c) Check if cashback will be credited to your wallet account with the portal instead of your credit/debit card
d) Difference in discount/cashback value if purchase is made on the shopping site v/s from their mobile app
e) Check if more than one offer can be combined (discount + cashback) at the same time
4. Offers, cashback and reward points on your credit / debit card or wallet
Irrespective of partnerships with shopping websites, your bank may have ongoing offers if you use your credit / debit card during a certain period, or above a particular amount per transaction. These could be in the form of discounts, cashback, vouchers for shopping, movie tickets etc, or even in the form of bonus reward points.
New wallet and payment apps also keep sending emails and notifications for offers if payment is made from their app. Check the Offers section in those apps as well for latest shopping deals.
You can also set a label or filter to keep track of such emails to get maximum value when shopping online during a sale.
5. Set price alerts
Some online shopping sites have features to help you compare prices as well as set alerts for products you’re interested in – and will notify you when the price reaches that level. You can use third-party apps and browser extensions for this too.
6. Free Shipping is a bonus
When shopping, every rupee saved counts
Check if the product you’re buying is shipped for free or at a cost. Some sites allow free delivery for their premium customers, and in other cases you can check if the seller offers it, by tapping the “More offers from” button on a product page. This will also show if a seller is displaying a lower purchase price but higher delivery charge, thereby cancelling any actual cost advantage.
7. Check online shopping communities
There are some dedicated sites that display deals across shopping websites and also have interactive forums where members can share deals and post feedback on products. These can help to get another point of view, especially if a deal that seems too good to be true, really is – or if there is some catch (older version, discontinued product etc).
8. Leverage your social network and friends circle
If you’re active on Facebook and Twitter, there are several Pages and twitter handles that share interesting deals all the time. Additionally, if you’ve already narrowed your search for a specific product, asking for an opinion on social media or among your friends’ circle can help validate your choice and they may even suggest better + lower priced alternatives.
9. Check product reviews
While this is important, it is also largely subjective, since what works for someone else could be a deal-breaker for you, or vice-versa. Further, there is also the problem of irrelevant or fake reviews on some shopping sites, so read through the reviews carefully to check if there is a genuine problem with the product. You can also check other websites that publish reviews online, to get an overall, unbiased review of the product.
10. “There will always be a better offer later”
This may be true or not, as product prices keep changing all the time – the point being, decide if you really want to buy something immediately or can wait, are comfortable with the price, and then go for it. Avoid the temptation to buy something just because there is a deal or offer on it.