Shopping online is meant to be convenient because it saves us time and money. However most of us would probably agree that more often than not, we end up spending more than we’d budgeted for in both time and money. The endless ocean of online shops all bid for our attention, and leave us feeling a little exhausted from ‘option overload’.
Don’t worry though, because here we reveal the top tips for making online shopping exactly what it should be: easy, quick and fun.
The Bare Necessities
The key to a happy online shopping experience is to know exactly what you want, and staying focused. It may sound easy but, with all the online adverts and millions of search results available, staying focused is the hardest part for most online shoppers.
You should begin by writing down what you need to get and how much you can realistically afford to spend – including delivery! Always write down a price range instead of any specific amount. That way you won’t be as easily tempted to spend too much.
Once you have decided – stick to it. There are millions of online shops and as long as your budget is realistic you will be able to find what you need for the right money.
New or Second Hand?
Depending on what you are looking to buy, and why you are buying it, you may consider whether to include second or refurbished items. Second hand and refurbished furniture items in particular, can often prove a very economical alternative to sourcing quality items, however you may need to arrange your own delivery or collection and this could potentially add substantial costs, especially if you are buying a larger item that cannot be sent via courier.
If you are looking for the ultimate second hand bargain, then don’t forget to look for sites such as Freecycle where you can pick up pre-owned goods for free! Most of these sites operate on a first come first served basis so you need to be quick if you see something you like or you will miss out.
How to get the most out of your search engine
Start your online search by going to Google, but don’t limit yourself to using just one search engine: Searching on Yahoo or Bing could also help you find your bargain as the search results will vary from Google’s. And don’t just consider the links on the first page of search results – go at least 3 pages in to the search result if you need to.
When searching on Google, do it through Google ‘shopping’. This feature will display the images of the products as well as the price and you can filter your search results by cost to help you stick to your budget. If you are not having any luck within 10 minutes, you are either typing something too specific into the search engine or you are looking for a needle in a haystack.
If you are stuck, then try searching for the phrase or word that you think most people will use when looking for the same item. Often you will find that changing your search term even just slightly will help you find what you are looking for.
Jumping the last hurdle: Delivery Costs
When comparing prices online always remember to include the delivery costs, especially when you are working on a tight budget. Although many shops offer free delivery, this free delivery may not the quickest delivery service available. So if you need your goods urgently the next day, then expect to pay more for this service regardless of whether the delivery is included or not.
Some shops will also set a price for the delivery service, but this price may go up if you are buying a bulkier or heavier product due to the extra courier costs that the shops incur.
If you think the shops’ delivery price is too high, especially the costs of the express international delivery service, then you have two options; look for another shop with lower delivery costs or call the shop and ask if they will let you organize your own courier delivery. If they agree, then find a good online courier that can organize the collection for you, at a price that’s within the budget. If your goods are urgent, then paying for a guaranteed delivery option can be well worth the money.