5 Inside Tips To Shop Online Like a Pro

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National Public Radio (NPR) and Marist College conducted a 2018 poll that found that 76 percent of all U.S. adults shop online, with more than one quarter of those Americans frequenting the dot coms monthly and 16 percent of them shopping online multiple times per week.

With all this online traffic and the repeated entry of personal and financial data, shopping can become overwhelming as well as dangerous. To help you navigate these choppy, online waters here are six tips to getting the best deals and staying protected while shopping online.

1. Collect Coupon Codes

It’s like knowing the secret handshake or password that gets you into an exclusive club; nearly every online retailer offers coupon codes for various discounts and savings. Some are easier to get than others, though.

Sometimes a quick Google search for the retailer’s name and the word “coupon” will yield some lucky results. A safer bet is to use apps like Honey and SnipSnap that collect the coupons for you, or you can scroll or search through repositories of coupons on websites like RetailMeNot. Just a few minutes of coupon code research could save you anything from shipping costs to whole percentages off your shopping total.

2. Defy Dynamic Pricing

The practice of jacking up prices based on supply and demand is something Americans are accustomed to, but dynamic pricing goes even further and involves adjusting the price of an item you see on your screen based on your browsing history, purchases, your zip code, whether you’re using a laptop or mobile device to shop and several other invasive, personal factors.

To prevent falling victim to this insulting form of price gouging, complete these three tasks before making a purchase online:

  • Clear all cookies and browsing history
  • Log out of all social media accounts
  • Switch to incognito mode or private browsing

Clearing out all suggestions of your personal preferences should level the playing field and might just save you some money.

3. Protect Your Identity

Clearing your cache is a good step toward combating possible sensitive information theft, but that alone won’t safeguard your data. Considering that in 2018 more than one billion records were exposed online, upping your digital security before an online shopping spree is a smart move.

Investing in a service like www.LifeLock.org to guard your sensitive data is a more comprehensive way to prevent the theft of your identity while entering financial or personal information online during shopping transactions.

4. Play Hard to Get with Your Shopping Cart

So you did your shopping, filled your shopping cart (then emptied it and filled it again) so the next step is to buy, right? Not if you want a bargain. Click that X.

When you abandon your cart, a fairly common practice is to email you a savings offer you can claim if you complete your order. Offers generally range from five to 20 percent off a single item or your entire order. It’s true. Patience is a virtue.

5. Chat with the Chat Bot

Did you know that those chat bots in the corner of your screen with the clip art pic of the smiling, professional woman actually serve a purpose? Spending a few minutes acknowledging these artificial intelligence can help you score some check out love.

It’s a good idea to ask “Sharon” about any specials or sales. Sharon can also sometimes approve the use of an expired deal or coupon code if you catch her on a good day. It doesn’t hurt to ask.

Become a Pro

If you are one of the 76 percent of Americans who enjoy shopping online, utilize these tips to get the most out of your experience. Charm the chat bots, collect your coupon codes, say no to dynamic pricing, and close out your shopping cart all while protecting your sensitive data and you’ll have earned your rank as an online shopping pro.