SEVEN Tips and Tools For Online Shoppers

Category: Shopping

In last year's holiday shopping season, spending totaled $789 billion, up over 8 percent from the previous year. Not surprisingly, the pandemic drove shoppers online, and ecommerce sales are expected to rise again. Fortunately, some tools have emerged to help consumers find the best deals. Check out these clever tips to help you save money when you shop online...

Try These Online Shopping Tools

Shopping online is a two-step process; first, find the product you want, and then find the best price for it. A lot of factors may come into play, including sales tax, shipping fees, and the availability of discount coupon codes. Here are some nifty tools that will try to help you get the lowest price when shopping online...

Lots of people shop on Amazon because of their "free 2-day shipping" option for Amazon Prime members. But the truth is that free shipping isn't always free, and Amazon's price for a given item is not guaranteed to be the lowest.

Honey automatically finds coupon codes for you while you are shopping. Just register at Honey’s site and install the browser extension for Chrome or Firefox. Then, when you add an item to a site’s shopping cart, click the Honey icon to display the coupon code that saves you the most money (or learn that no coupons are available).

When shopping on Amazon, Honey compares sellers for you, and takes into account shipping costs and your Prime status. Honey's price tracking and price history tools will tell you if it's a good time to buy the item, or if it might be better to wait. The Droplist feature lets you mark an item you're not ready to buy yet. If Honey detects a price drop at that store, they'll notify you.

The coupon codes provided by Honey work most of the time and save users considerable amounts of money. The company says that users save an average of 17.9% (or about $129) when shopping with their 30,000 participating merchants. Honey has a loyalty rewards program that pays “Honey Gold,” a feature that lets you earn gift cards which can be redeemed at popular stores. Honey's privacy policy is refreshing and clear: "We do not sell your personal information. Ever."


Capital One Shopping, formerly known as WikiBuy has price comparison and coupon finder tools, similar to Honey. Capital One Financial Corporation bought WikiBuy a few years ago, and I have shied away from it since. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that they also bought Paribus and rolled it in to the Capital One Shopping app. Paribus snoops around in your email inbox to find out where you've been shopping and what you buy. Or maybe it's the new name, so closely associated with a huge financial corporation, that gives me pause. (What's in my wallet? None of your business, Jennifer Garner.)


Rakuten (formerly Ebates) has a simple, straightforward business model known as a loyalty program. The company earns cash from participating sellers each time a Rakuten member makes a purchase. Part of that money is shared with members in cash payments.

Rakuten offers up to 25% in cash rebates when you shop online at popular stores like Amazon, Best Buy, JCPenney, Kohls, Macy's, Old Navy, Target and over 2500 more. There are no points, and no “funny money" -- you get cash to spend however and wherever you wish. You get paid every three months via your choice of Paypal or paper check.


Price comparison services like Google Shopping are also handy for bargain hunters. Other price comparison tools such as Bizrate and Pricegrabber let you compare prices when shopping for computers, electronics, clothing, cameras, sporting goods, furniture, appliances, toys, and other popular categories.


The Camelizer extension works only with Amazon. It provides a shortcut to the CamelCamelCamel database of historical prices, presenting charts that show how the price of an item has varied over time. Amazon prices, along with new and used Marketplace sellers’ prices are plotted on a single graph. At a glance, you can see the volatility of an item’s price and which sales channel you should choose. If an item’s price is pretty stable, you may as well buy it now. But if it has fluctuated significantly in the past, you may want to set a future date on which to check the price again. The Camelizer accommodates these options. The Camelizer works with a slew of national retailers, and is available for Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Microsoft Edge, Opera and Safari.

Depending on the source, ecommerce stats show that between 40 and 50% of all online purchases happen at Amazon. I try to keep in mind that there are plenty of alternatives to buying on Amazon. And let's face it, Amazon mogul Jeff Bezos, with a net worth over $200 billion, doesn't need the money. I'll start a shopping trip with a Google search and then use a price comparison tool, which often leads to me finding an excellent supplier with good prices.

Each of these shopping tools has unique features, any of which may be decisive if you have to choose just one shopping tool. But you don’t have to make that choice. You can disable any or all of them for most of your web-surfing time, and enable one or more only for significant shopping sprees. (Use your browser's settings icon in the upper-right corner to turn extensions on or off.)

I really don’t need to compare five prices when shopping for pencils; the price differences are going to be negligible. But when it comes to expensive geek toys or power tools, I will often use at least two of them to find a good deal. Note that I didn’t say “the best deal.” That is and will remain as elusive as a unicorn.

Do you use these or other tools to save when shopping online? Your thoughts on this topic are welcome. Post your comment or question below...

 
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Most recent comments on "SEVEN Tips and Tools For Online Shoppers"

Posted by:

John
26 Nov 2021

what comes prior to "automatically finds...", fourth paragraph of the article?


Posted by:

Ken H
26 Nov 2021

Personally, I have no problem comparing prices on Amazon (and with other sites) without Honey. I found it to be intrusive in the past and very rarely were there any coupons that actually worked. Almost always outdated, if they ever worked.

If a small extra fee (not always) is added for Prime shipping, I weigh if the convenience of receiving the item(s) in a timely manner is worth it to me.

I often (though again, not always) find eBay to have far more inflated prices that Amazon. I nearly always save money with Amazon.

(FYI I have no financial position in any of the online sales sites.)


Posted by:

Brian B
26 Nov 2021

The biggest tip of all for online shipping:- Use PayPal, not your cards. If a site doesn't accept PayPal, I will not buy from them, simple. Spraying your credit card details around on the internet, is asking for trouble in my opinion.


Posted by:

Brian B
26 Nov 2021

@ John
"Honey"


Posted by:

John S
26 Nov 2021

Rakuten is no longer affiliated with Amazon.


Posted by:

Dick
26 Nov 2021

I agree with Brian B. If a site does not have PayPal as an option, I shop some where else.


Posted by:

RandiO
27 Nov 2021

Thank you Bob Rankin.
@Dick, @BrianB, I am not certain if PayPal is as safe/secure as your credit cards which have more federal oversight...


Posted by:

Brian B
27 Nov 2021

@Randio, With respect, the nature of the internet is international, and I doubt federal (I am assuming US authority) would have any oversight on sellers from or to overseas.


Posted by:

REV FR.DEACON JOHN BERSTECHER
28 Nov 2021

I have to admit I use Captial One Shopping, and have been very happy with it,
But, initially, I had my doubts also because of the name.
I try to keep them all available though.


Posted by:

Bob Kinsler
29 Nov 2021

Then again is when do you get the item you purchase (note the challenge off the CA Ports and all the container ships, not to mention the cost of getting one of those containers these days). I noticed it takes a while to get anything these days, maybe it is due to my rural location in SE Oklahoma.


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