Online shopping tricks that could save you hundreds
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Download a voucher code plugin
Sometimes when you're shopping, you forget to check up on the voucher code sites to help slash the cost of what you're about to buy.
For example, plugins like Honey and Pouch automatically gather voucher codes that are eligible for the site you're shopping at and gives you a notification to tell you what you can save.
Topcashback and Quidco offer their own versions of this too and they're worth checking out.
Shop on a Monday
The day of the week you choose to buy things online could help you save money.
Research from price comparison shopping website Idealo identified that online shoppers tend to get the best deals on a range of products towards the beginning of the week rather than around the weekend when retailers know people have more free time to browse and make purchases.
It tracked 7,642 products across 12 categories over a period of three months and took the average price from Monday to Sunday to find the optimum time to shop.
Significant savings were found on games, video games and sunglasses which were between 15%-18% cheaper on a Monday compared to the weekend.
Marketplace sites like notonthehighstreet and Etsy are great places to browse for gifts, but they're probably not offering you the best prices.
Companies pay commission to feature on the sites, and that cost is usually passed onto you, the customer.
The great thing is that most of the sellers have their own websites which you can easily find with a few clicks.
There are huge savings to be made. For example, we found a mirror available on notonthehighstreet for £365, but the same mirror is also available on the company's own site for £332.
The individual site also has an additional 10% discount for first-time shoppers, meaning that buying direct would cost you £298.80, saving you a massive £66.20.
Sign up to newsletters
Online retailers are keen to get you on their mailing list, so many offer an incentive for signing up to their newsletter.
At Gap, you can get 20% off full-price styles when you sign up, while over at & Other Stories you can get 10% off your next purchase.
Even if a retailer doesn’t offer an incentive, newsletters are a good way to stay in the loop about sales, store events and other offers that could benefit you.
If you’re worried about your inbox being overrun, you could set up a separate address to manage them.
Know your rights on returns
Research has found some of Britain’s biggest shops are sitting on an estimated £4.1 billion of delivery charges that are due to shoppers that return unwanted goods ordered online.
An investigation by the Daily Mail found that ASOS, Boohoo and Topshop routinely keep the postage and packaging money when customers return goods and are given a refund.
However, the Consumer Contracts Regulations 2014 state that if you return items bought over the phone or internet within 14 days of receiving them, you should receive a full refund, including the original, standard delivery costs as long as you return the whole order at once.
The research found that many retailers hold onto this cash – typically around £3 a delivery – unless you ask for it. So, if you’re returning online orders make sure you get all your money back.
Haggle on live chat
More and more retailers now offer a live chat service with someone on hand to help you out when shopping online.
So rather than dismissing the pop up you could use it to haggle for a better deal on something you want to buy.
The online helpers for retailers like Nike, Dell and Dyson have been known to offer discounts of 10% or more, just for asking.
If you’re nervous about haggling take a look at our guide: how to haggle and save a fortune.
When shopping online, always check whether you can get cashback via TopCashback or Quidco before you make a purchase.
These free websites allow you to earn a percentage back on what you spend by shopping through tracked links for retailers.
To help make it even easier both TopCashback and Quidco have reminder widgets that you can download that will alert you each time you’re on a site where you can earn cashback — so you’ll never miss out on a saving.
A lot of bank accounts also offer cashback, so make sure you're with the right provider to make the most of the offers available.
Hunt for voucher codes
You should also check if you can score some money off with a voucher code.
You can find the latest codes on websites like vouchercodes.co.uk and vouchercloud.com.
Don’t be afraid to stack your codes
Many online retailers will allow you to stack up a bunch of different coupon codes at checkout so you can apply a number of different discounts to the same purchase.
Just enter the codes one at a time and just before you’re about to pay, check your invoice to make sure all discounts have been applied.
Gap, Crocs and Amazon are all examples of the retailers that give you the option to stack, but many won’t, so remember to double-check what codes have worked before paying.
Accumulate more coupons with multiple email addresses
You’ll often find that some retailers like to send single-use coupons out to a select number of customers.
To get the most out of these, sign up using multiple email addresses so you can receive the same coupon multiple times.
It’s pretty sneaky, but well worth it if you can receive multiple 50% discount codes to use at your favourite store.
Get a better offer
Websites like Beat My Deal say they can get you a better deal on what you want to buy online.
The site allows you to paste a link to any deal you’ve found online and invite other retailers to try and beat the offer with either a better price, better delivery, warranty guarantees or something else to seal the deal.
Track price drops and sales
It’s hard to keep up with the latest sales and offers, but there are price tracking websites dedicated to keeping you in the know.
LoveSales, for example, monitors price drops and sales at your favourite retailers — so you’ll never have to pay full price again.
The site offers a toolbar button you can download which allows you to add items to your watch list as you browse the web, set a price you would like to pay for it and create an alert for if it drops in price.
Amazon shoppers should try using CamelCamelCamel or ZeeZaw, which are dedicated to tracking Amazon prices.
You can enter a maximum price you are willing to pay and get an alert when it hits this target or falls below it.
Use social networking to be the first to know about sales
As well as using price tracking websites such as these, another great way to keep on top of sales and price drops is by getting savvy with social media.
You’ll soon find that many merchants post special discount codes or announce sales first on their social media platforms.
Join membership clubs for designer brand flash sales
A range of branded and designer goods run ‘membership clubs’, whereby you can register for free and get sent alerts for online flash sales.
Doing this can get you discounts on some of the major designer brands such as Louis Vuitton and Chanel.
Subscribe on Amazon for discounts on your regular purchases
If you shop on Amazon regularly, it’s worthwhile subscribing – not for Amazon Prime (we know that can be pricey), but for the ‘subscribe’ feature, which automates the repurchasing process for you.
Not only does it save time, but it also saves money by shaving a few percent off the original price for you.
Use the Amazon filler item finder to avoid shipping costs
If you love shopping on Amazon but don’t have Prime and don’t want to pay the hefty delivery charges, you’ll need to spend £20 to get free delivery.
To reach the amount without overspending, visit the Amazon Filler Checker to find items worth the exact amount.
Use gift cards on your purchases for big savings
Using gift cards to buy things online can make some pretty great savings.
To make the most of it, fill up your basket online, then once you have a total, buy a gift card from the likes of Cardyard that amounts to your purchase.
In many cases, you can buy a gift card worth 5-15% more than its price.
Clear your browsing history and cookies
When searching for voucher codes, or just online shopping generally, always remember to clear your browsing history and cookies to get less biased prices.
If a website can see you have already been looking at certain products (flights in particular), prices are likely to be increased.
Include your birthday for a birthday discount
Signing up to newsletters has lots of perks, but don’t forget to fill in your birthday when registering.
Some retailers will offer you a discount on your birthday or, in some cases, a free gift such.
It’s a classic hack, but buying out-of-season can save you a lot of money. When the demand for a certain product dips, so do the prices.
For example, the price of coats during the middle of winter will always be at its most expensive; buy during the peak of summer instead for the best bargains.
Before you buy, check to see if you can get it for free
The joy of the internet is that anything is possible. And that means getting things for free too.
Before you buy something, double-check you can’t get the same or similar item for free. Sites like Freecycle will bring up second-hand goods that are available in your area and there are some serious bargains to be had.