What can you do to make your online shopping experience as convenient as possible, while minimizing their risk?
Tricks to Make Online Shopping More Convenient
Take Advantage of Online Sales - Just because you cannot make it to a mall, does not mean you will miss out on the sales. While not every online purchase is a great deal, it is still possible to take advantage of sales while shopping online. The first thing you should do is sign up for emails from your favorite retailers and follow them on social media like Facebook or Twitter. Between the emails and your Facebook account, you will know quickly if they are having an online sale. You can also use a service like PricePinx.com to be notified of discounts on your favorite items. PriceGrabber, Bizrate and shopping.com also help you find the lowest prices on items you want by sending you the current cost of that item at a wide variety of stores, which allows you to make price comparisons.
Try Leaving an Empty Online Shopping Cart - Many consumers have found that, when shopping on sites like Amazon, if they search for an item and put it in their "shopping cart," but then close the page without purchasing the item, they are often notified a few days or weeks later when the item has been reduced in price. Whether you are shopping for Levi's, Nike's, an iPhone, the latest video game, or a new DVR player, this is a great way to get discounts on items that you do not need to buy in a hurry.
Shop for Discounted Gift Cards - There are websites such as Gift Card Granny and CardCash that sell gift cards for department stores and other businesses at a discount. It could save you a little shopping money. At the very least, it is worth checking out.
Consider Amazon Prime if You Mail a Lot of Gifts - At a cost of $99 a year, Amazon Prime is not right for everyone. However, if you find yourself spending over $100 a year on shipping costs for items you buy for yourself or send to family members in other parts of the United States, Amazon Prime offers free two-day shipping on most items, as well as other benefits such as free e-books, video streaming, and unlimited photo storage on Amazon Drive.
Look for Free Shipping on Other Sites - Some websites offer free shipping on purchases over a certain dollar value. You can also check out FreeShipping.com, which eliminates the delivery charges from over one thousand online retailers, including Target, Kohl's and JC Penny.
When in Doubt, Call the Online Representative - Many websites have real people you can call for help with their website. For example, at the bottom of the page on the Macy's website, there are the words "contact us." If you click those words, the page that opens up gives you a phone number you can call 24 hours a day to get additional help. Other sites have their phone number displayed prominently near the top of the page.
How to Stay Safe While Shopping Online
Avoid Shopping on Unfamiliar Sites - Amazon, Walmart, Kohl's, Target, Macy's, Gap, Saks Fifth Avenue, Nordstrom, Sephora, Ann Taylor and JC Penny are all examples of well-known companies with websites which are reliable and legitimate. (Some of these companies have legitimate links to their sites from this article, for example). There are many other honest companies with good, user-friendly websites, as well. However, make sure you are familiar with the company before doing any shopping online. At the very least, ask a friend if they have shopped on the site or check them out through the Better Business Bureau. Whenever you visit a brick-and-mortar store you like, ask them if they have a website where you can shop.
Do Not Shop Online Using Public Wi-Fi - While it might seem fun to sit at Starbucks with a cup of coffee and do all your holiday shopping, you could be putting your credit card numbers and personal information at risk. Stick to your home internet connection and make sure your computer security is kept up-to-date.
Make Sure the Site URL Starts with https - Most ordinary websites have a URL that begins with just http; shopping websites should have the letter "s" at the end, which means that it is secured and your financial information is more likely to be protected. While you are examining the URL, be certain it looks right to you. If you are shopping at Amazon.com, for example, the full URL is https://www.Amazon.com. If the word Amazon is misspelled or there appears to be some other problem, you could be on the wrong site. Be especially concerned if the URL for the website does not contain the business name at all, but just has a series of letters and numbers instead.
While there are no guarantees that you will completely avoid any problems while shopping online, the above steps will greatly reduce them, making you much more secure while shopping from home.
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