In today’s day and age shopping in a physical store feels like a relic of the past. Very often you can find better deals online than you would in person. Add to that the rise of free shipping and same day delivery and the need to go to the store has been drastically reduced. With the click of a button you can compare prices from different stores without having to even leave your couch.
But many people still have concerns about doing their shopping online, ranging anywhere from their identity being stolen to returns not being accepted. If you’re looking to avoid the downsides and risks of online shopping while getting the best deal possible, here are some things to keep in mind.
Avoiding The Security Risk
One of the biggest concerns people have when shopping online is the security of their personal information. Concerns about giving out your home address and credit card information to random websites can make you more reticent to buy from a website you don’t know rather than one you trust (not to mention the annoyance of having to sign up with your email only to be inundated with endless messages from the company about various sales and specials you don’t care about).
The best way to avoid these risks to your personal information is to shop with highly reputable brands on websites that you know. Shopping through Amazon offers several layers of protection to ensure your information is safe. Many other websites offer the use of third-party payment systems such as PayPal, which will hide your credit card numbers from the retailer.
If you want to avoid your data being stored as cookies in your Web browser, shopping in private browsing on your phone or computer will stop your device from storing your information. Although you’ll have to manually enter it in every time you want to buy something, this can put your mind at ease if you’re worried about a data breach.
Finding The Best Deals
The best part about shopping online is the ability for quick and easy price comparison between retailers. When shopping in a physical store, it can be tempting to buy something in the moment because you can’t be bothered to drive to another store and see if they have a better deal. Simply opening up another browsing window and checking what the closest competitor offers is a much easier way to find the best deal possible and ensure you’re not wasting your money.
Honey is a browser extension that automatically finds and applies coupon codes for you at checkout. This can be a great way to find even better sales and take advantage of specials that you normally wouldn’t have access to. It also has the added benefit of showing you the price of something over the last few months, allowing you to see if it’s been recently raised or lowered. This can help you decide whether or not to hold off for a little while to see if the price goes back down, or to try and find the same product from a different retailer for cheaper.
You don’t have to only compare prices online, either. If you’re headed to the store later and you want to see what the best deal is, write down the lowest price you find online before heading to the store and compare it to the price of the product in the store. If it’s cheaper there, you can buy it then; if not, you can wait till you get home and order it online.
Researching The Product
One of the downsides of buying a product in the store is the inability to hear what other customers who’ve bought that same product have to say about it. Sites like Amazon post customer reviews that you can read to help know more about the life and endurance of the product before you buy it. While you may be able to find a cheaper deal for a pasta maker online, reading the reviews can let you know if it will break easily or if it’s difficult to use, in which case you may want to opt for one that’s slightly more expensive but has better reviews.
Also be sure to look at all of the costs of the product, including any shipping and tax fees. While the base price of the product may be cheaper online than in the store, factoring in the cost of shipping can mean that buying it in the store is ultimately the cheaper choice. If you’re looking to avoid shipping costs, many online retailers offer free shipping, and Amazon Prime offers plenty of free shipping options to its members.
Buying Used Products
Very few stores aside from thrift stores and Goodwill sell used products, but there are plenty of online sites where you can buy secondhand items. Craigslist, Amazon Warehouse, and eBay sell used products in good condition, allowing you to find a better deal for something than if you were buying it new. Just be sure to read the seller’s ratings and reviews to ensure that it’s a buyer you can trust to deliver a quality product. Only buy used products from sellers who have return policies, because this will ensure that you’re protected if the item you buy isn’t in good enough condition.
If you’re buying from Craigslist, practice caution when meeting the seller to pick up the product. Buying used goods from Craigslist removes the benefit of online shopping of not having to leave your house, but it also allows you to find incredible deals that you almost certainly would not be able to buy either online or in a physical store. Only meet sellers during the day in a neutral location to ensure your safety during the interaction. And remember, even if you’ve agreed to buy something on Craigslist doesn’t mean you can’t change your mind when you arrive and see you don’t like the product.