Clever shoppers save money combining online and in-store shopping
Clever browsers can combine legwork with a bit of tech savvy to get a better deal on almost anything. Let’s explore some tips that can save considerable sums of money. If a store has both an internet and a brick-and-mortar presence, you can work that fact to your advantage. But there are a few other tricks you can keep up your sleeve.
One quick way to avoid a common fee is to choose the in-store pick-up option when you order via website. This method spares you the cost of shipping. It may be best for large items, especially if you have help. Of course, you normally have to go and get the thing. In some locales sellers offer same-day deliveries. Read the rules to see if you qualify.
A number of stores boast a guaranteed price-match policy. This trick works when you’ve paced the aisles and you’re on the verge of pouncing. Always look the item up on your handy mobile device. See what other retailers are selling it for. If you find it at a lower price, grab a sales rep and show him or her your screen. A call to a manager might take a moment, but the outlet will honor the promise. Do a bit of research. There’s often a list of approved competitors.
Buyer’s rewards programs can give you an edge whether you buy in store or online. The more you spend, the more points you build up, until you reach a level where you can convert that tally to a discount in real dollars. It doesn’t hurt to sign up before you walk in, if it’s free to do so.
There are a couple of pitfalls: the urge to spend enough to get to that threshold and the fact that many of these points evaporate if you don’t use them in a certain time frame, often a year. Sign up for email from the names you’re a huge fan of. You’ll be alerted to upcoming store events and sales.
There are even shopping apps that do most of the work for you. They can look for the same or comparable items and show you where to go for a better deal. Some even give you a scanner function, so you can photograph a bar code or QR label and see results right away. Technology is fast approaching the magic wand stage.
You’ll find abundant coupons you can “clip” on websites and in apps. You can either print out a hard copy or simply display them on your screen to make them work. Make sure your phone is charged! If you have an account with a store, you may see clickable offers when you sign in. Scroll or search, and add each one (or all at once) to your account. When you flash your rewards card, those discounts show up at the register.
Many big chains, including Kohl’s, Walgreens and Target, allow you to stack coupons in some manner. That’s where you can combine a manufacturer’s coupon with an in-house one. Make sure this is allowed, but it never hurts to ask.
For those who have reached an expert level, newer hybrid apps have appeared that allow you to get rebates on products you purchase. You scan the product’s bar code, take a picture of your receipt in the app, and the rebate will appear in, say, your PayPal account. The process might become a habit you can get used to.
Embrace any means of finding bargains, even if it’s unfamiliar to you. My only fear is that, should drones start delivering, they might become so thick in the air that they blot out the sun. Besides, we’ll miss the fun of sizing up things for ourselves.