Commercial retailers didn’t really understand online commerce until the late 1990s. But they’ve since caught their stride, amassing huge databases of information about customer behavior. They use this information to tune their pricing, special offers and promotions accordingly — for instance, offering online promotions midweek, so consumers can shop at work.
The flip side: savvy customers can take advantage of merchants’ strategies to score great deals. Clipping coupons no longer requires safety scissors or getting your hands dirty from newspaper ink.
They key is to know where and how to find the best online savings.
Sign up for newsletters
One of the best ways to score deals is by signing up for e-mail newsletters from retailers. Everyone is guilty overlooking the newsletter that clutters your inbox, but did you stop to think that
there might be a hidden deal in there before you hit the delete key? Online merchants understand that people are spontaneous, capitalizing on the fact that we may purchase an item after receiving
an email with an offer or coupon that matches their shopping list. Sign up for newsletters from the merchants you frequent, then be sure to scan the newsletter for deals that you might be able to
take advantage of before deleting.
Many brick and mortar retailers, as well as online stores have forums that are a boon to finding the best coupons. Additionally, online sites, like FatWallet.com and RetailMeNot.com, dedicated to
coupon clipping usually have forum members that are scam bloodhounds and are good at sniffing out scams and alerting others.
Be sure to know the warning signs of fraudulent coupons. You should never have to pay for a coupon or share personal information, such as your name, address or account numbers, in order to redeem
coupons. The Better Business Bureau recommends checking whether the coupon is being offered directly by the store or by a third party affiliate. If a coupon has multiple broken links, expired deals
or old content, you probably should skip it. Look for sites with the most updated news and deals, editorial content and an active forum or blog.
Compare and contrast
Use all-in-one sites like Extrabux.com to compare prices, find coupon codes and get cash back for making your purchases. Find out where the best deal is first and then make your purchase and maybe
even get cash back.
Use your phone
Make that super-cool smart phone carry its weight by using the internet capabilities. There are apps (like Red Laser for iPhone) that turn the camera element on the phone into a barcode scanner
that can be used to quickly return results of what the deals are on that item.
Keep an eye on it
Target and Best Buy both have price guarantees so should the item go on sale after your purchase it, they will refund you the difference. The later you buy an item the more time you have for the
price to fall. Use a site like Priceprotectr.com to help track what you bought, where you bought it and what you paid. The site and ones like it will then email you if the product is marked down
after you buy it.
Online shopping has evolved over the years, so take advantage of the deals to be had by knowing where to find them, and how to use the internet to your advantage.