Online shopping requires knowing a lot more than just products. You need to know where to find reviews, how to shop safely, how to compare prices, and how to get the best deals from your favorite sites, like Amazon, Walmart, and many others.
We cover all that and more in the MakeUseOf guide to online shopping.
So how do you guarantee low prices on good products?
Getting Deals Online Using the Right Tools
Shopping online is complicated. And very few people know how to do it the right way. Worse than that, not knowing the right way to shop online makes you vulnerable to advertisements. Ever seen a banner ad on a website? That advertisement is the fruit of the labor of countless individuals. Graphic designers, psychologists, data scientists, and more all teamed up to get you to buy stuff. Marketing creates the customer, keeps the customer, and satisfies the customer. It also tricks
the customer into buying something they don’t need — oftentimes at a higher price and inferior quality. Think of it this way: the more money companies spend on advertising, the less spent on more important areas, such as design, materials, and customer service. So how do you cut through the marketing and get high-quality products at an affordable price? It’s simple. Educate yourself. The right combination of apps, websites, and research strategies will save you money
and make shopping online safer.
2. The Goal of this Guide
This guide aims to achieve three things: first
, improve your shopping experience. Second
, it helps you avoid buying bad products. Third
, it teaches you how to save money shopping online. In order to assist readers in shopping better, I outline the necessary steps you need to take, decisions you have to make, and tools you can use to prevent being misled by aggressive marketing. Hopefully, you will decide to spend the money you save on something meaningful, such as an emergency fund, health insurance, or education for yourself or your kids.
3. Online Shopping vs. Offline Shopping
Online shopping has its advantages. First of all, you don’t need to leave your house. You can shop anytime you want because online stores are always
open. You can do thorough research, read customer reviews, and objective product analysis. Furthermore, you can compare prices across multiple online shops and
hunt down the best deal available — all without leaving your home.
4. How to Get Great Deals
To become a true professional internet shopper, you must combine offline and online shopping strategies. While a lot of the stuff on the internet is electronics, you can apply these tips to practically anything, including fresh groceries, jewelry, and clothing. And all of these things are sold online anyway, including groceries (Amazon Fresh).
5. Product Research
Let’s say you would like to buy a new laptop. It’s not a cheap item, and you probably don’t need it right this second. No, really, you don’t. But since you’re going to own it for some time, it’s worth investing a little extra time and thought in the initial research process. Start by writing down the features available for what you’re buying. And understand how that feature works. Then evaluate which features you will really need, which ones would be nice to have, and which ones you can definitely live without. Be honest. Now you have your minimum (need) and maximum (nice to have) requirements.
For ideas about a product range, you can perform an internet search and see what it comes up with. If you need some pointers on how to search Google like a pro, check out Tina Sieber’s Master the Google Operands.
Once you have selected a couple of products, you can click the respective button in the list to compare the side of your pick by the side. These data are incredibly useful in further downsizing your list and selecting only the products that best suit your need.
6. How to Shop Safely Online
Whether you buy online or offline, the best price isn’t always the best choice. Be sure to buy from a reliable shop, evaluate all extras and bonuses (e.g., warranty, return, and service options), and select a safe payment method.
7. Picking an Online Store
Be aware of online shopping’s pitfalls. A cheap price, for example, may turn out to be not so cheap once shipping and handling fees are added. Some products may not come with warranties. Or — in the case of refurbished products — may come with reduced warranties. In short, watch out for extra costs.
8. Secure Internet Connection
A secure internet connection must be used when sending sensitive information, such as credit card or bank information. This technology scrambles and descrambles web traffic, protecting it from anyone trying to intercept it. These men-in-the-middle attackers rely heavily on using compromised computers (like public computers) or access points so they can intercept your data. Once you enter the ordering and payment process, make sure you were directed to a secure internet connection. This is not something you can initiate, it should happen automatically. However, you can easily recognize a secure internet connection. The web address should include HTTPS:// at the very beginning of the URL.
The “s” behind “https” (hypertext transfer protocol) indicates a secure connection using SSL/TLS protocols for encryption and secure server identification. Furthermore, you should see a closed lock or an unbroken key in the status bar (typically in the bottom left) of your browser window.
HTTPS Everywhere: Use HTTPS Instead of HTTP When Possible HTTPS Everywhere: Use HTTPS Instead of HTTP When Possible
If a vendor or payment processor does not use HTTPS for conducting financial transactions, that’s a very bad sign and you shouldn’t do business with them.
9. Methods of Payment Online
As of 2017, dozens of payment methods exist. However, only a few are commonly used. These include credit cards and PayPal. A handful of other services are beginning to see wide use, including Google Checkout and Amazon Payments.
10. Bank Transfer
This is the safest method of payment since you do not reveal your bank details to the internet or at least you restrict it to your online banking activity. Keep in mind, though, most online shops won’t accept bank transfers as payment. A bank transfer is normally for payment between individuals in the US. Also, if you do buy something using a bank transfer, that generally your items won’t be shipped until payment has arrived. Some shops, however, may issue a bill, which may be paid after you received the delivery. In this case, you should definitely rely on a bank transfer.
10. Buying Using a Credit Card Online
Federal laws make online credit card payments fairly safe. In case of abuse, a US credit card owner is liable for a maximum of $50. However, these regulations may vary depending on your country and what kind of credit card you use. Apart from that, many credit card issuers grant extended warranties or other benefits upon making payments with their cards. You should thoroughly review the terms of service of your credit card issuer to be aware of your liabilities, rights, and potential benefits.
How to Use Your Credit Cards to Save More Money How to Use Your Credit Cards to Save More MoneyCredit cards are usually seen as dangerous and a potential waste of money, but they can also help you save a lot of money if you use them correctly.
On top of that, many credit card companies now offer their own checkout service. While many e-commerce websites offer these services, they aren’t as widespread as PayPal or credit card.
11. Go Online Shopping!
The final step after determining what you need, reading reviews, comparing prices, and finding the right seller, is pulling the trigger and buying something. But be aware that if you take these requirements to a shop, they may try to sell you what they have — rather than what you want
. The in-store device may not necessarily be the best item for you. Truthfully, most in-store products aren’t the best deal. In an ideal world, global price and quantity should determine which of your requirements can be fulfilled, not the stock of your local department store. So before you head out, come up with a list of acceptable models. Select all models that fulfill your requirements and have received good reviews. Using the product reviews and recommendations of ConsumerSearch and Consumer Reports, you may have picked some favorites already. But go ahead and query some more resources to see whether your selection hold true. I recommend Amazon, Walmart, Jet, Costco, and eBay.
12. Amazon Online Shopping
Amazon is the world’s largest online retailer. Because of their popularity, many price-comparison tools exist. These tools range from fake-review-spotting websites to price-comparison browser extensions (best Chrome extensions).
How to Spot Fake Reviews on Amazon Don’t trust that review or 5-star rating on Amazon to make up your mind about a product. The only way to find a true opinion is to learn how to spot these fakes.
13. Find the Cheapest Prices on Amazon
Finding great deals on Amazon sometimes requires looking at the fluctuations of a product’s price over time. Such tools pinpoint when a price drop is likely. My two favorites are Honey and CamelCamelCamel.
14. Find the Fake Online Reviews
Fake reviews plague Amazon’s review system. That’s mainly because Amazon allows anyone to score their products, even if they purchased the item from another store — or if they were hired to provide a review. The two best tools for finding deceiving reviews is FakeSpot.com and ReviewMeta.com. Both tools analyze each review on the basis of the quality of the review, rather than its starred rating.
15. Amazon Warehouse Deals
Amazon operates a warehouse with major discounts on open-box, refurbished, or gently-used products from Amazon.com. Buyers receive the same benefits and satisfaction guarantee they are used to from the main site.
Conclusion: Online Shopping Strategy
Shopping online is easier than ever — if you know of the right tricks and tools. The easiest way to get what you want for the lowest price is to have a strategy. Determine how much you have to spend, and the features you need. Then start using a combination of review websites, price comparison tools, and browser extensions to get what you want. If you want to keep your business local, ask your favorite brick-and-mortar store for a price match. In the end, it’s worth the investment of your time.