Jul 25

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Online shopping became more popular in 2020, thanks in no small part to the coronavirus outbreak.

As we enter 2021, we expect online shopping to continue gaining in popularity as more people sign on to the trend. However, many online shoppers – particularly newcomers – may not be getting the best out of their online shopping experience just yet.

To always get the best deal and value for your money, here are some tips to take note of in the new year.

Choose reputable outlets

As online shopping activity has increased, so has the activity of scammers who prey on unsuspecting customers. One of the best tips for avoiding scams when you shop during the holidays is choosing established brands to shop with.

Retailers like Amazon and eBay have been here for a while to serve the global audience. Others will also be locally established to serve your specific areas better. Stick with the platforms you know for a safe shopping experience.

Try shopping from varying locations

Some online marketplaces use price discrimination tactics to charge you more for certain items depending on your geographic location.

If you were viewing the website locally, for example, you could get cheaper prices than if you were viewing internationally. It could even happen that based on your browser history or past purchase history, some goods are marked higher for you than other shoppers would see it.

This is especially true when buying tickets, booking hotels online, etc.

The best thing to do in this case is to vary the locations you are shopping from. You can get that done with a virtual private network or VPN, which hides your IP address and geographic location. A VPN service provider may have servers all over the world, allowing you to choose different locations to “shop” from and find better deals as a result.

Compare prices

While many customers have a favourite go-to retailer, they would be making a mistake by not checking out some alternatives. We find it wise to subscribe to multiple retailers so you can always compare their offers to find the best prices and deals.

For example, the vendors on one retailer/ outlet might list an item at a higher price than vendors elsewhere. Besides the price, there is no difference between the quality and quantity of both products under consideration.

In such cases, you would be glad to have had both retailers on hand.

That leads us to the next point:

Sign up

If you are still shopping online as a guest, this is the time to stop.

Many online outlets have customer loyalty programmes that pay you back over time for shopping with them. Such payback might be in the form of points that you can redeem later, or in the form of discounts and special promotions that are offered to members only.

Look out for special events

Finally, you don’t always have to spend top dollar on an item if you don’t need it immediately. Keep such items in your wishlist or in your cart and wait for special events and holidays, when prices might be lower, to make a purchase. These events could include Black Friday, holiday deals, retailer anniversaries or seasonal sales. 

By Matthew Stern

Matthew Stern is a technology content strategist at TechFools, a tech blog aiming at informing readers about the potential dangers of technology and introducing them to the best ways to protect themselves online.

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