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Online Shopping: Tips and Tricks

Woman with a bejeweled crown and a credit card over her faceEvery year at this time I get so excited for shopping. Scratch that…all year. I’m always so excited for shopping: Amazon Prime Day, Tax-Free weekends, Labor Day, Columbus Day, and Black Friday deals. Then, Cyber Monday rolls around. Ask anyone, I am the QUEEN of online shopping.

Probably much like you, I have done so much online shopping in 2020 that I don’t think I will ever go to a store again. I mean, why should I? I can shop from the comfort of my home, office, or car without makeup, without having to search and fight for a parking spot — sometimes even in pajamas! I haven’t waited in one line all year. I’ve been getting so spoiled!

There are surveys everywhere on the net telling us how many Americans plan to skip out on Black Friday and shop online with only a fraction expected to shop in the store. Due to the Pandemic, retailers and consumers have probably taken a hard look at shopping and sales going into the Holidays. Many retailers are announcing extensions of Black Friday (some are teasing us with up to 2 months of Black Friday savings!) and some have written new apps for consumers to set private appointments.

person online shopping on his laptopDo’s and Don’ts from the Queen

Well, enough about statistics on who wants to shop and how people are doing it. Let’s talk about DEALS and how to get good deals all year. Since I am the Queen of online shopping, I thought I would offer the same advice I give my friends. You can go find some of the same boring online shopping tips if you want, but here are some that you probably can’t find online:

Do engage your friends: If you are looking for something particular, ask your friends to keep their eyes peeled and you should do the same for them. I can’t even tell you how many great things at mega-deal prices I have gotten because a friend knew I was looking for something.

Do set up a shopping-specific email: Create a Gmail or some kind of shopping only email to register on all the sites you plan to shop on.  You don’t want all of these emails going into your regular email usually because there will be a lot of them (well, there a lot for me). You will receive coupons almost daily and early access to sales – or at least know when the sales start.

Free shipping signDon’t pay for shipping: Let’s talk about shipping… If a site is trying to charge you shipping, Google the item and find another website that is selling it or start an online chat with a rep to tell them what you would like to purchase and straight up ask for free shipping. It feels weird and pushy the first time, but you will get used to it. Tell them, which they already know, you can buy it somewhere else with no shipping. If they won’t provide the free shipping, ask for a discount in the amount of the shipping. I have never had to actually go find the item on another site because they waive the shipping or provide a discount.

Don’t rush to buy: Leave items in your cart for 24-48 hours if there is no sale because it will help you decide if you really need it and you may even get an email saying “you forgot something” with a coupon.

Do use online coupons: Long gone are the days of searching the internet for a promo code. joinhoney.com is an extension browser that will “automatically find and apply coupons to your cart at 30,000+ stores.” Honey also looks for better prices on Amazon, compares sellers, and tracks the price history to tell you whether it is a good time to buy. Honey is another site that rewards you with points for gift cards. While you are at it, check out retailmenot.com, bradsdeals.com and ibotta.com to name a few. Most of these helpful sites offer apps as well.

Do register for your favorite stores: Registering on the sites you shop is so important because many online retailers offer points or frequent shopper incentives. Some sites even give you cash back. Overstock is a perfect example. I have received many items from Overstock for FREE! Most recently, I received an entire set of 6 beautiful shiny black bowls for free, PLUS free shipping. Once you receive your items from Overstock, be sure to go in and add a review of your purchase. I have received as much as $10 for adding a review and a picture of the item.

Do check Amazon first: Check Amazon before buying anything online, and if you are not already a PRIME member, I am truly disappointed. There are too many benefits to that program, and our marketing department doesn’t allow me that much space to list them all out. When using Amazon, if you can wait on your purchases, choose to receive all of your packages in one delivery or select No-Rush Shipping and you can receive a promotional credit in a lot of cases.

Don’t buy what you can’t return: Make sure the online retailer offers free returns or the option of returning an item to a store. Not everything you buy online ends up being your perfect fit. Free returns are the new normal and returning items that don’t work out are best when done easily and FREE.

Do use store mobile apps: Apps like Samsung Pay and Apply Pay and sometimes even PayPal show featured rewards and promos every day and cash back rewards. Most retailers also have apps and offer specials if you shop through the app. Honey and the other programs mentioned above coordinate with many of these apps.

Do look for credit card benefits: Many credit cards have benefits because they may give discounts or points for online shopping on some sites.

Don’t sign up for store credit cards: From my experience, I would NOT RECOMMEND signing up for store credit cards! Store credit cards usually have the highest interest rate. They make a great upfront discount offer for signing up but bank on the fact that you won’t pay it off and the interest eats up the discount you received. It becomes hard to juggle which one is due and when and before you know it, you have charged far too many things and can’t remember when to pay them off to avoid the interest.  It just wouldn’t work for me. If you want no interest for 6 months use PayPal or Klarna. But there is a catch with PayPal…when you pay off the purchase, you need to call them or online chat and direct them which promotional credit charge to apply the payment to. Otherwise, they just apply it to the most recent purchase and charge you the interest on the oldest purchase.

Don’t engage with vague app deals: CONSUMER ALERT!!  Dad, are you listening? Please try to avoid apps or sites like wish.com. Although Wish itself is a legit company, the sellers are mostly located in China and come direct from the factory. This makes it very hard to know if the products are genuine until you order, wait forever, and receive them. I have a friend who ordered patio chairs and sure enough, patio chairs arrived…for a dollhouse. The listing never mentioned the size. Yes, it’s partially the consumers fault, but when you are so excited about finding something at such a great price, you just push the button and in 6 weeks regret that push.

Do visit blackfriday.com: Just making sure you have visited, blackfriday.com right? If not, do so immediately and without hesitation (just a tip). As I write this, blackfriday.com tells me that Black Friday starts in 1 month, 5 days, 11 hours, 3 minutes and 17 seconds. Yes, that’s something I NEED to know and keep track of.

I hope these tips help as you enter into the Holiday season and if you have some tips I haven’t mentioned, please let me know!

November 2020

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