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Money saving

How you can save money when you shop online

Posted 29 June 2016 by Christine Walsh

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Be a smart online shopper with our top online saver tips.

For many people, shopping online can be more convenient and comforting than taking a trip to the shops. But the real benefit is the great savings you can find when buying online compared to the high street. So how do you make sure more cash stays in your pocket and not the retailers? With many discount savings at your fingertips, shopping online can make less of a dent in your budget. So as long as you’re only buying what you need and you don’t impulse buy, you can save yourself money. 

Find out how you can be a smart online shopper with our top online saver tips. 

1. Make the comparison 

A savvy online shopper will always compare retailers before parting with their cash. Online competition between retailers can drive stores to discounting products. Before you buy, be sure to compare between retailers. Shopping comparison sites such as PriceRunner can help with this.

Not only does comparing prices online help to save you money, it can also save you time. There’s no need to traipse from one shop to the next to find the cheapest product – you can do it all from the comfort of your home. You can search for the product you have in mind and see which store is offering the cheapest price. 

Always keep in mind that retailers don’t want to turn away business. If you find your product cheaper elsewhere, it’s worth asking the store if they can match or even beat the cheaper price. Look out for these price match guarantees when you’re deciding where to shop online, especially if they’re offering other benefits such as loyalty points or free delivery. 

You may be able to seek out further discount through speaking to a customer advisor on the live chat function that some retailers offer. There’s no guarantee of this, of course, but if you don’t ask, you don’t get.

2. Check for vouchers 

Voucher codes can go a long way, especially if you’ve just tightened up your budget. You’d be surprised at how many vouchers there are online, just waiting to be used. Vouchers can include money off your shopping and codes for free delivery. When shopping online, make sure you check for any promotional codes before buying. 

You can discover vouchers on websites such as MoneySavingExpert and Vouchercloud. Just type in the retailer’s name and you can search for current discounts available. Be sure to compare various voucher sites as some may have bigger discounts, meaning more money in your pocket.   

Another tip is to scan the retailer’s homepage for discount codes. It may be worth subscribing to the store’s newsletter. They tend to send special offers to their email lists – another great way to receive discounts. You can always unsubscribe at a later date if you’re getting too many emails and feeling tempted to buy when you don’t need it.

3. Cashback on your buys 

Grab yourself an extra saving by claiming cashback on your purchases. Cashback sites such as Topcashback and Quidco offer you a percentage back on what you’ve spent when shopping with selected retailers. 

You claim money back by signing into a cashback website and clicking onto the retailer’s link which will direct you to the retailer’s homepage for you to then shop as normal. The cashback site will make a note of your visit and then give you money back on the confirmed purchase.

It will depend on the retailer how long it will take for you to receive the cashback. But remember, you’re only saving money if you use cashback apps on something you’d already planned to buy. Don’t buy something just for the cashback.  

4. Avoid delivery charges 

One of the drawbacks to shopping online is the added cost for the delivery of products. After all, it can be frustrating to find a £10 off voucher code to then have to pay £5 for postage. The great news is there are smart ways to avoid delivery charges when shopping online.  

When you’re searching for vouchers, be sure to check for any free delivery codes to maximise your savings. With some retailers, you don’t have to pay for delivery providing you spend a certain amount. Remember, this is only worth it if your shopping costs more than the minimum spend for free delivery.

Don’t be tempted to impulse buy and spend more money to avoid the postage charge. You only save money when you stick to what you originally wanted to buy.  

Another great tip is to see whether the retailer offers a click and collect service. This way, you can order your item and pick it up in store usually, free of charge. Some retailers use services such as Collectplus which lets you pick up your order from a number of petrol stations, newsagents and local stores. 

By selecting this option at checkout, you can save on delivery charges but it will depend on the individual retailer as some can still charge. Another benefit to Collectplus is that you can cleverly avoid weekend delivery charges that some retailers add on by collecting your items from a store open on weekends.

5. Second-hand savings  

The internet is a great place for second-hand bargain hunting. For the money you could save, it’s worth considering buying recycled items. Plus you’d be doing your bit for the planet by not buying new clothes every time you need to revamp your wardrobe. eBay is a great place to search for pre-owned products. Websites such as Gumtree and Preloved allow you to search for items in your local area. If you’re lucky, you might even be able to pick up some freebies.

There are many options out there to pick up a discount. Amazon warehouse deals have offers on not only pre-owned products but returned and refurbished products as well as warehouse damaged products.

by Christine Walsh

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To find out more about managing your money and getting free debt advice, visit Money Advice Service, an independent service set up to help people manage their money.