Cost-conscious consumers historically locate and clip a bunch of coupons to reduce the price of their purchases, but the art of saving money is changing now that more consumers are online shopping. Your computer doesn’t care if you try to rub a paper coupon on its screen, so how do you save money like you used to?
Thankfully, it is frequently easier to save money on internet purchases than it is at a retail store. Brick and mortar stores have a lot of hidden costs that force them to charge a premium, such as rent, utilities, and labor. Many websites do not need to pay rent or utilities at all. They are responsible for server fees and some labor, but these costs usually pale in comparison to their more traditional counterparts.
This usually allows e-commerce sites to charge less for the same product than a retail store would, helping you save money with no effort on your part at all. If you want to save even more on your online transactions, check out the tips below to get the most bang for your buck.
1. Explore The Site Thoroughly
Websites want you to explore every section they offer in an effort to entice you to buy something. It is common for them to hide coupons, discount codes, and special sales for only the most observant customers. Some retailers offer a banner with a promo code at the top of the page, while others bury discounts at the very bottom of it. Many e-commerce sites have Clearance tabs that function in the same manner as retail racks in physical retailers. Some sites also offer a Discount tab with convenient links to numerous ways to save money.
The “Shop Deals” tab on the top banner of Staples.com is a good example of this. Clicking on it produces a drop-down list offering convenient access to the company’s signature Daily Deals, savings on Staples-brand merchandise, your local store’s weekly ad, digital coupons, a Clearance section, and a listing of used products you may buy online.
Staples makes its discounts easier to locate than most, but most sites can help you save money if you look hard enough. The most common offers are generally discounted shipping and/or a trial of their newest services.
2. Connect With The Parent Company
Many companies offer additional discounts to customers who connect with them. Signing up for an email newsletter and/or joining the company’s rewards program is the most common ways to do this, as the company is assured that you will receive their promotional materials. In exchange, you get discounted or even free merchandise, priority access to sales, and exclusive offers. Sounds like a pretty good deal!
Some companies expand on this by offering incentives to follow them on social media sites such as Facebook or Twitter. Returning to our previous example, Staples offers SMS (texting) alerts and a $5 off $25 coupon for subscribing to them. Most of these promotions are unavailable anywhere else, making this a vital step toward your goal of saving money.
3. Use Third-Party Discount Sites
Third-party discount sites such as BeFrugal and CouponCabin scour the web for promo codes and other digital coupons that you can use online. Their massive size dictates that you should double-check that any individual offer is still valid for the items you plan to purchase, as expired or otherwise invalidated codes occasionally slip through the cracks. Still, you should almost never go online shopping without first checking into these sites.
A simple Google search may reveal the same offers available on the discount sites, so they know that you might need an added incentive to go through them. The sites above offer a cash back program, giving you back a percentage of what you spend online as a rebate. For example, CouponCabin offers 2.1 percent of your Staples bill back to you as cash back if you follow their link to the retailer. The exact percentages vary by both discount site and retailer, so be sure to shop around for the best offer before checking out.
Remember that many digital promotions vanish after a certain number of uses, encouraging you to take advantage of every offer as soon as possible. The seller benefits from this by potentially enticing you to buy something you would not have time to think it over, but nothing feels worse than paying full price when you once had a coupon.
4. Double-check Your Paper Coupons
Contrary to popular belief, some paper coupons have promo codes in the fine print allowing you to use them online. These offers are just as easy to redeem as for the codes found on the company site or through a discount blog, so take advantage of them at every opportunity.
Some retail receipts also contain coupons redeemable online. You will occasionally need to answer a brief survey before your discount will be honored, but they rarely take more than 20 minutes or so to complete.
5. Explore Alternative Delivery Options
Many shoppers have no interest in paying extra for shipping and handling, preventing them from online shopping even when the prices are better. The good news is that you frequently do not need to pay extra for shipping. Some retailers, including Staples, allow you to purchase items online and then pick them up at your local store free of charge. You lose some of the convenience of online shopping this way, but you’re saving money on shipping.
Staples is a large brand offering a variety of ways to save money, but these tips are applicable to nearly any e-commerce retailer you can think of. Start saving on everyday online purchases today!