Smart Online Shopping, Part 2: Saving

If you’ve done any online shopping, you’ve probably noticed that the original item price rarely matched the checkout price. Check out these tips for saving between “add to cart” and “submit order.”

When you’re choosing items for your cart, pay attention to items that are specially marked and know what the website’s various symbols mean. Certain items may be marked as eligible for free or discounted shipping, or you may be able to save by ordering multiple items of a certain brand, line or style. If you don’t know what symbols to look for or you don’t notice the symbols at all, you may be missing out on savings without even realizing it.

You should also pay attention to the header and the sidebars throughout the website, as they often advertise upcoming sales. Online stores run sales and promotions as often as physical stores, if not more often, but the ads for these sales aren’t always delivered to your doorstep or played during commercial breaks. Unless you’re ordering on a strict deadline, simply waiting a few extra days for the start of an upcoming promotion could save you 10% or more on your order.

But the savings don’t stop once you’ve finished filling your cart and clicked “proceed to checkout.” There are still opportunities to save as you work your way toward submitting your order.

You can earn big savings if you’re not afraid to wait for your order. Vendors and delivery services know that last minute shoppers will opt for more expensive overnight shipping so don’t fall victim to the procrastination price hike. Choose standard shipping options rather than rush options, choose ground over air, and rely on the USPS instead of FedEx or UPS when doing so will save you cash.

If you’re lucky enough to be ordering from a company that has both an online shop and physical stores, you may be able to select an even cheaper shipping option: ship to store. Some stores allow you to send your order to the nearest physical store for a cheaper price, or for free, as long as you come to pick it up yourself. If there’s a store near you and you don’t mind a short drive, you could save big.

Now for the golden egg of online shopping tips: Always – I repeat, ALWAYS – search for a promo code. To do this, simply open a new tab in your browser and navigate to Google. Type in the name of the company or website, and the words “coupon code,” “promo code” or “savings code.” You will be given a list of websites containing various alphanumeric codes that you can enter at checkout for big savings. It’s free, it’s easy and it works almost every single time.

The most common coupon codes are for free shipping, and 5%, 10% or 15% off your order. Sometimes, the codes come with a stipulation that you spend a certain amount, or have purchased a certain brand of items. It doesn’t hurt to try entering the codes, either. If the code is expired, faulty or doesn’t apply to your order, the website will let you know and you can usually just try a different code. Keep trying until something works.

The only catch is that most websites will only let you use one code per order, so be sure to calculate the savings if there are multiple codes to choose from. While “10% Off” may be tempting, that “free shipping” code may work out to a larger savings in the long run. Or, if you’re just a few dollars off of being eligible for that “$5 off $50” code, maybe you can add on that extra item you were debating without feeling guilty.

If you time your purchases carefully, shop the sales, and aren’t afraid to try a few promo codes before you checkout, you can save big online with minimal effort.

Another way to save, if you’re not in a rush is to abandon your shopping cart. Many retailers respond by offering you a coupon, or a targeted online ad to try to get you to return to the store.

Check out the first article in this series at “Smart Online Shopping, Part 1: Security” for tips on a safe online shopping experience!


  1. Rolly

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