2020 kept most people locked inside of their homes due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Without the ability to go outside, many turned to online shopping, meaning online shopping has never been more significant.
But there are a few things you should know before cashing out your tax refund online. Just a few tips!
1. Take advantage of price comparison tools
Browser extensions such as Honey tell you whether or not you’re getting the best deal possible on a particular product by analyzing its price history. If its current price is its lowest, Honey gives you the green light. If not, you may want to wait.
While definitely niche, programs like Honey make sure you’re getting the best price possible, and for that alone, you should be using it.
2. Discount codes are bountiful- use them
There are sites dedicated to collecting discount codes for hundreds of websites and putting them on display for anyone to use. Now, these sites do have their downsides, one being that not every discount code is guaranteed to work. However, these sites are still plenty useful and should be used whenever possible.
3. Only buy from reputable sites
The worldwide growth of online shopping means that many cyber criminals around the globe have taken to creating fake retailer sites that look like their reputable counterparts. For example, plenty of counterfeit Amazons exist.
Before you start creating accounts, saving payment information, and making purchases, make sure the site you’re on is reputable, safe. Going back to the Amazon example, you can confirm if you’re on the real, reputable Amazon by searching for Amazon.com and not clicking a link from a random email.
4. Only use encrypted networks for online shopping
Because online shopping means using—and possibly storing—your debit and credit cards on websites, it’s a smart idea to only go through with a purchase on a network you trust, such as your home network. Using a public network or any network that is unencrypted or populated with dozens of people puts your payment information at risk of being stolen.
If you must use a public network for purchases, make sure to encrypt your device’s data with a VPN. The way VPNs work is by creating a tunnel between your device and the Internet to encrypt all traffic and data. This means that you’ll be able to shop knowing that your information is secured.
5. Read the retailer’s Return Policy
Online shopping has its advantages, but it has just as many disadvantages, one of the disadvantages being that you can’t try certain products before you buy them—something that is possible at certain brick-and-mortar stores.
For example, Best Buy allows customers to try out keyboards and mice before buying. This encourages an informed purchase and helps sales. But online shoppers don’t share that same benefit.
If you’re an online shopper that often buys electronics, make sure you’re buying from a retailer with an acceptable return policy so that if you don’t like the product after using it, you can return it hassle-free.
6. Beware of shipping costs
There is nothing more beautiful than being able to buy groceries, electronics, and furniture from the comfort of your couch. But there’s also nothing more terrifying than getting to the checkout and seeing the outrageous shipping prices.
Some online retailers or user-run markets such as the Facebook marketplace trick users into thinking they’re getting a good deal then trick them with shipping costs. For example, a $100 nightstand that looks relatively high quality may come with $100 in shipping depending on where it’s coming from.
The lesson here? Don’t take prices at face value. Check for any potential shipping costs that could double or even triple the asking price.
Online shopping has been one of the most popular activities this year due to the pandemic. Whether you just needed a refresher on good online shopping tips or are new to online shopping, these tips will get you the most bang for your buck online.