As they say, money saved is money earned. Unlike offline retail, where you have to physically hop from store to store to figure out the best deals, the online world lets you search and compare right from the comfort of your seat. And now, you can save even more with these tips.
The network effect
According to the report The Value of a Facebook Fan 2013, released by research firm Syncapse, 42 per cent of users become Facebook brand fans to get coupons or discounts. And the brands know this, too.
Which means Facebook and Twitter are where brands are most likely to announce their best offers. So, even if you are not a fan, it might be worth getting onto the bandwagon — if only for the deals. Also watch out for regular contests and quizzes on these pages.
You got mail
You might also want to sign up for newsletters and emails from brands. You could skip the spiel and pick up only the key bits. Nayaab Patel, a business development expert from Dubai Marina, says: “The best trick is to keep a close eye on the emails these sites send you, and to regularly visit the sites.” He shops online at least thrice a month, usually on Souq.com, and for movie tickets on Grand Cinemas and Vox Cinemas.
Clear those cookies
Before starting your quest for the best deals, rid your browser of cookies. And logout of shopping sites.
They tend to check your browsing history and personalise the search results — which also means, instead of seeing the entire universe out there, you only see what the shopping site believes you should.
Prices fluctuate, and the lowest price on a product at any particular moment could be on any site. So instead of sticking to just one online shop, it makes sense to have a roster of reliable sites to scan through. Smart shoppers spend time on comparative shopping and buy off the site that has the best deal going.
Like Sana Ahmed, a group account manager from Dubai Marina. She is the perennial bargain hunter who does not shop “unless it’s a good deal”. She regularly checks Groupon and Cobone for spa offers and gadget sales.
Also, if you are a avid online shopper, you could use apps and sites that specialise in crawling multiple stores to pull up the best prices.
Spend time googling information on what is in the brand’s pipeline and the release dates. A new version will invariably push the prices down. A related fallout would be clearance sales on various sites — price reduction is usually a sign that old stock is being cleared for new.
It might be tempting to go for those sales, but wait! The prices are likely to drop even further, if the retailer remains with unsold inventory.
For birthday and anniversary gifts, it is always better to buy early. In fact, we would recommend you keep your purchase date a month or so before the event. That gives you the leeway to track the item on various sites, or exploit any discounts that may come up.
Buying last-minute is the worst thing you could do — it pushes you into a corner and you end up paying the full price. Plus, you might have to spend more on expedited shipping.
There are certain festive periods when almost every retailer has a discount going. These are great times to play some music in the background and spend time scouring the internet.
Milagros Flores, a senior customer service executive from Dubai, says: “The best way to get the ideal deal is in the month of December, when most people shop for the gifts.” Flores is a regular on Cobone, Souq and Groupon.
However, Patel agrees that holiday season is the best time to buy. “Since the dirham is pegged to the dollar, check out a US store for the prices and then try to understand how much costlier it is over here,” he adds.
Cashbacks and discounts
Credit card sites often reward users with cashbacks, increased reward points and promo codes for shopping on certain sites.
The retailers also offer discounts on use of certain cards as the payment method. It might make sense to have multiple cards and check what combination works best at the time of the purchase. If there is a regular pattern for these discounts, you could sync your purchases accordingly.
Let go at the last step
This one comes from PC Magazine writer, Kara Kamenec. The trick is to go through the motions of buying an item, but let go at the last step. This is called an ‘abandoned cart’, and many online retailers have automated systems and customer support teams that follow up with a reminder mail or a call.
If you are lucky, they might even throw in an offer to entice you to complete the purchase. And even if the discount does not happen, well, you have nothing to lose.
While using search engines, experiment with the search terms — try deals, discount, promos, promotions, best deals, biggest deals, mega deals. You never know how the search engine indexed and ranked those pages, and you might lose on better discounts if you believe the search term ‘shopping deals’ will find you great deals.
Also, sign up for alerts and Rich Site Summary feeds from sites that collect discount codes, or where users post information about great deals they came across.