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* How to save on Christmas shopping online

Online UK Shopping Tips

The Internet these days has developed into a huge marketplace where innumerable virtual shops have been set up to sell all sorts of goods that customers demand. This is largely due to the fact that millions of customers prefer the convenience of shopping online instead of getting stuck in snarled traffic, wasting time hunting for a suitable place to park in, and then having to wait in long queues to pay for their purchases.

According to surveys, it has been found that over recent years people have spent double the amount of money shopping online, as an increasing number of them have begun using the Internet to carry out everyday tasks such as shopping for grocery and paying their bills. People are continuing to expand this trend by buying new categories of products on the Internet as they become increasingly comfortable with online shopping.

Moreover, shopping online enables customers to browse through as many online stores as they want to, where they can compare and choose between large varieties of prices and products from the comfort of their homes. Hence, online shopping is safe, practical and fun, and you will often be surprised by the bargains you can get.

However, whether you are a beginner or are a regular online shopper, a few online shopping tips will enable you to save a lot of money by knowing how to find good deals, but also to make the experience as safe as possible.

Given below are some helpful online shopping tips that you can keep in mind when you use the Internet to buy things for yourself or hunt for gifts for your family or friends:

Use the power of various search engines

Make a thorough search of the Internet to find the best products. The net should be used like a tool to find the right choice. For instance, if you are looking for toys for children, use search engines like Google or Yahoo by entering a phrase like “best children’s toys”. Once you obtain the results, search through the websites to hunt for exactly what you are looking for. If not satisfied, you could modify the search words like using “popular children’s toys” instead, which will usually give you a different set of search results.

Deal only with known merchants

Buy only from merchants you are familiar with. If you find yourself on a website that is operated by somebody that is unfamiliar to you, there are chances of it being a scam site which may take your money without delivering the goods, or misuse the personal information that you have entered. However, if you deal with major e-commerce sites like Amazon or the online sites of well-known retailers such as Currys, Tescos and Woolworths you need not worry about this kind of thing.

You can also assure yourself about the safety aspect to a certain degree by locating merchants through sites like eDirectory.co.uk or eBay’s Shopping.com because they make the effort of checking out or rating the merchants that are referred on their sites. Yahoo, for instance, handles the information about your credit card, passing on only the money and not the number of your credit card, to the merchants you deal with through their site.

Compare products and prices

Use the Internet to make comparisons of both products and their prices. By buying online, you will usually be able to get the best product of your choice, along with the lowest price. But, check out the cost of delivery, which may be added to the overall cost. Although a few sites may charge extra for delivery, there are a number of them that offer free delivery in order to have a competitive edge. Moreover, there are many sites that offer substantial discounts on delivery costs if you buy multiple products from them. You could call the customer service of such websites to check if they do offer this kind of discount. Similarly, while some of these merchants may charge you for delivery, others may not.

Also lookout for some merchants who do not add VAT to their prices until you actually place the item in the shopping basket and are at the checkout stage.

Look for bargains

By shopping online you can often be surprised at the bargains you can get. For instance, new technological products are often available online months or weeks before you will find them in your local stores. These new tech products online are usually offered at considerable discounts.

Also, check for stock clearance items which are usually offered at incredibly low prices. For instance, you will be able to save a lot of money by buying Christmas decorations on the Internet after the holiday season, which you can put away and use next year.

Subscribe to e-mail newsletters

If you buy certain items frequently from particular websites, subscribe to their e-mail newsletters. They will notify you of their special offers, discounts and promotions that you can use to buy goods at low rates. Since you will probably purchase most of your items from them, it will help you to save a considerable amount of money.

Check out auction sites

Make sure to check out various auction sites online for the things you are looking for. Many new products are offered at these sites at much lower rates compared to retail stores. You can also find used products, which are usually as good as new that are offered at incredible bargain rates. However, make certain of familiarising yourself with the policies and rules of these auction sites, along with the legal terminology, like refund policy, warranties, etc., of the seller’s products which you want to bid on. An important part of buying via auction sites is to check the feedback and ratings of the seller. This provides you with comments from previous buyers who offer their thoughts on the seller, their item and overall service. You should always try to purchase items from sellers with good feedback and a high rating to boost your chances of a successful auction experience.

Look out for discount coupons

Usually UK discount coupons are highlighted on the home page of the seller’s website, so keep a sharp watch for them. If you are hunting for third party discount coupons, the best way of finding them is to conduct an online search for them. You could also call the company’s customer service to find out if they have any discount coupons on offer. We at Shopping Navigator have our own forum which lists various discount codes for online UK Stores: UK Discount Codes and Vouchers.

Use a browser that is secure

A browser is the software that is used to navigate the net. The browser you use should be in compliance with the standards of security of the industry, e.g. Secure Sockets Layer. These security standards jumble the information you give on the Internet when you make a purchase, which enables making your transaction secure. For more information see our UK Shopping Advice article.

Use credit cards to make payments

Whenever you make purchases online, use your credit card to pay for them, because this protects you to a certain degree against fraud. If you make your payments using a debit card, find out from your bank about the kind of protection they provide. Keep in mind that when you use your debit card, there is an immediate deduction of money from your account. Hence, if you feel you have been cheated, you will have to try and get the money back yourself.

Of course, many merchants selling their products online are honest. However, if do find yourself on a site you are not familiar with, hunt for signs that prove their legitimacy. For example, check out if the ordering page has the lock symbol in your browser’s right hand corner. This is indicative that you are on a site that is secure and the personal data that you provide is protected from being accessed by the wrong people.

In addition, also check out the privacy policy of the website. Plus, check to see if the website provides the company’s street address and phone number, so that you can get in touch with them offline.

Use security software

Before you begin shopping online make sure you have protective software. Spyware and viruses can hijack your personal information such as your credit card number, and if you fail to install a firewall that protects all the data that comes in and goes out, your computer stands the risk of being hacked into. Companies like McAfee, ZoneAlarm, Symantec, and TrendMicro, provide security software that protects your computer from a variety of threats.

Online shopping offers many benefits, which can’t be found in most brick and mortar stores. The Internet is open seven days in a week all through 24 hours of the day, when you can shop for the innumerable bargains that you can find online. Use the above online shopping tips to shop safely and lucratively on the Internet.



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