Shopping Strategy: How to Save Money Buying Online


The amount of money being spent online increases every year as more people come to accept the convenience of online shopping and gain more confidence in its safety. Vendors who sell online often do deliver attractive rates, simply because the competition is stiff. The very nature of the Internet makes it very easy to comparison shop, and in order to stay competitive, vendors must keep their prices to a minimum.

One of the biggest obstacles to online commerce is shipping. While the shopping experience itself is purely virtual, and keeps the shop owner’s need for shop space to a minimum, once you buy the product somebody at the other end still has to pick it out of a warehouse, put it in a box, and ship it to you. The biggest deal-breaker in online shopping, and perhaps the biggest reason people abandon their online shopping carts before making the purchase, is the shipping cost.

All other things being equal, the best way to save when shopping online is to compare shipping costs. Some vendors simply pass the cost of shipping only onto you, while others estimate, and others calculate shipping by setting it at a percentage of your purchase. If you are being charged ten percent for shipping, but your item is small and will be shipped in a $3.85 Priority Mail package, you’re probably paying too much. Some merchants justify the extra fee by calling it a “handling charge,” which means they’re charging you not just for the shipping, but also for the time it takes them to put it into a box for you.

Look for merchants that will give you an option of sending via U.S. mail or UPS, and charge you for the postage only and not “handling.” Better yet, some merchants will offer free shipping if you make a purchase over a certain amount. When comparing prices between online merchants, compare shipping costs as well. In many cases, the merchant with the cheaper product price may well end up charging you more when shipping and handling is added in.

Of course, with the price of gasoline soaring through the roof, online shopping offers the obvious advantage of avoiding the hassle and related expenses of driving across town to the mall. Many online merchants also offer premiums as rewards for shopping, which can be an additional incentive. Lastly, while comparison shopping is relatively easy, shopping bots and comparison sites make it even easier by providing you with a list of several merchants offering the product you want–giving you a great way to tell at a glance where the best deal will be found.

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