8 clever tips to save you money when shopping online

From leaving items in your basket to going incognito on your web browser - the dos and don’ts of online shopping

Online shopping is a trend that appears firmly here to stay, even as more of the high street begins to open up again, as lockdown restrictions ease.

A third (33%) of people think they will continue to shop online more often for non-grocery items, even after the immediate threat of the pandemic has subsided, recent research from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) found. And one in five (21%) will continue to shop more often online for groceries in the long-term.

However, with online shopping having become so firmly ingrained in everyday life, it’s a good idea to stay on top of the latest advice for getting the best deals and avoiding any online shopping scams.

Here are some ‘dos and don’ts’ from Andy Barr, retail expert and co-founder of online price tracking website Alertr.

Do go incognito or use a different browser

Got your eye on something? Do you keep going back to the same website to check if it’s still there or gone down in price? Well, doing this could actually bump up the prices. This can sometimes happen when browsing for holidays.

To avoid the price hikes, try going incognito on your web browser. Incognito basically means it won’t track your browser history, meaning your browser won’t remember which websites you have visited previously.

Do use discount websites

While you are shopping online, it’s worth signing up to discount and cashback websites, to make the most of any discounts you can get while looking for your online purchases.

Depending on who you bank with, you may even be able to get cashback with particular retailers by using certain payment cards, so make sure you check. You might not get a deal on every purchase you make, but at least you’re signed up to ensure the possibility.

Do leave items in your basket

If you’re signed up to a website you’re buying from and you decide to leave the items in your basket for long enough, you might get lucky and be sent a discount code via email from the retailer. This is a technique that retailers use to ensure that any products added to customer baskets are then purchased.

Do track your desired items

Price tracking websites such as Alertr will allow you to spot patterns in pricing and get notifications when a desired item you are following goes on sale.

Don’t end up paying for multiple deliveries

Make sure you have everything you may want or need from a particular online retailer before shelling out for those pesky delivery costs. There is nothing worse than having already paid and realising you’ve missed something out, therefore having to pay double for delivery. Some retailers also offer free delivery if if the total number of purchases adds up to a certain amount.

If you’re only slightly below the free delivery threshold, it may be worth looking on the website for something that only costs a few pounds but takes you up to the free delivery threshold. The additional item may be cheaper than the delivery charge would have been – and you’ve got a little something extra for your money.

Don’t necessarily buy on the first website you find the item on

Make sure you shop around first. Another retailer may sell the same product for a cheaper price, or there may be a similar product which does the same thing for less money.

Don’t forget that how you pay can give you added protection if something goes wrong with the purchase

Paying for items by credit card can give you added protections under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act, if anything goes wrong with the purchase. Payment options such as PayPal can also offer added protection if you don’t receive the goods you were expecting.

Don’t be fooled by copycats

Remember, there are a lot of scam websites, which may look legitimate but are designed to trick you into handing over your money. They may be selling fake goods, or the website might be trying to copy a well-known brand and the goods may never arrive at all. Information you put into bogus websites may be used to steal your identity.

If you’re buying from an unfamiliar website, it’s worth doing extra checks to make sure it’s genuine. Check the website URL and search for independent reviews to see if anyone has had problems with it before. Spelling mistakes on a website are also a red flag that it could be fake. There have also been fake missed delivery messages purporting to be delivery firms doing the rounds, so be on your guard.

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