While traditional retailers seem to be struggling right now, many online businesses are booming. It seems that many of us, as consumers, are happy to spend money online.
We may do so for convenience and also because we believe that we’ll be getting a better deal. But is this always the case?
In theory, we might expect online businesses to have lower prices because they have lower costs involved when it comes to running the business. They are not, for instance, having to spend money on the costs associated with maintaining a prominent network of physical stores.
With this background in mind, it makes sense to think that we should be able to get better deals as a result.
But there are some problems with this theory. One thing that we may note, for example, is that plenty of the leading online stores do actually have a physical presence too. They’ve already invested money in “bricks and mortar” stores – now they’re having to spend more in order to promote their online operations. So are they really able to benefit from lower costs as a result?
How do you know if you’re making savings by shopping in this way? One of the great benefits of online shopping is that it’s incredibly transparent. You can quickly compare the prices that are offered by a wide range of stores. This is incredibly useful, allowing you to identify whether you really are getting a great deal. It should ensure that you’re only ever spending what you need to.
But how many of us regularly use online price comparison websites? Although we may know that they exist, a surprisingly small proportion of Internet users rely on them. This may partially be attributed to the fact that such sites don’t always offer a comprehensive snapshot of what’s available.
There may also be issues in terms of the information that’s presented. Do price comparisons take delivery charges into account? There’s no doubt that things can be a little “hit and miss”, although they do provide a starting point.
From our own experience, we’ve also seen that some consumers aren’t aware that coupons could also allow them to take advantage of discount offers online. Such coupons are often freely available and can be accessed within a matter of seconds.
It’s clear that there are tools out there to help you save online, but the reality is that you won’t actually be making savings unless you’re actively seeking out these tools. Retailers don’t like to remind you that they’re available!
Since shopping via the Internet is so convenient, there’s really no excuse for not shopping around.
But is there a danger that you’ll also end up spending a whole lot more than you really mean to? There’s certainly a chance that your list of purchases may grow. As you browse a particular website, you may end up adding a few extra items to your shopping cart. These impulse buys can often make a significant difference to the amount that you end up spending.
Having the necessary will-power to avoid such purchases is something that you may need to concentrate on developing!
Keith Barrett makes use of Littlewoods discount codes and vouchers offered by other online retailers in order to save money. He writes on a range of finance and consumer issues.
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