In a couple of weeks, Christmas will be very much upon us. Before Santa Claus starts rappelling down the chimneys to deliver those perfectly-wrapped gift boxes though, you would surely want to get yourself and loved ones something for the season.
If recent surveys are anything to go by, 79% of shoppers (yeah – that’s us all) will prefer to buy their presents online rather than at a brick and mortar store. Deals are everywhere this time of the year, and before you jump right into the frenzy, let’s look at a few shopping tips to help you find ones.
Getting the best deals
Gone are the days when you would have to walk/ drive miles to find stores that sold what you wanted. At other times, you might even have to travel for a while before you got the kind of deals and pricing you were looking for. Online shopping has taken all of that out of the equation.
Now that you can just browse all the niche shops you’re interested in from the comfort of your phones/ laptops/ tablets, here’s how to get the best value for your money on all purchases.
Use a VPN to avoid price discrimination
Online stores will usually list products at different prices, based on a number of reasons. One is your geographical location.
Your phone’s operating system and browsing history can also affect the prices you see on products. While you might be lucky enough to get the low-end of the price discrimination ladder, nothing stops the algorithms from showing you the higher prices too.
That is why you should totally use a VPN when shopping around to evade this type of dynamic pricing tactic that your preferred vendor might have set in place.
Use Coupons Wisely
The internet is filled with various deal websites offering coupons for shopping. When sourcing coupons, make sure you check what online stores they are applicable on.
You should also look out for websites that offer fake or expired coupons. Looking out for these red flags could make your coupon search exhausting, but it will be worth it in the end.
When your coupon works based on percentage, it is advised that you hold off on using it for individual items. It would be much better to rack up your intended purchases and apply the coupon on the bulk order. You can even place orders for your friends and family to get higher savings on the order. For those that get multiple coupons, resist the urge to use them all at once. The time for each coupon will come, don’t worry.
Expired Coupons? Open disputes
That your coupon got expired is not the end of the road. Call the customer service agent of the coupon-issuing company and chaffer them for an extension. There is a 50/50 chance that the customer service rep you speak with will issue you a coupon code or not.
Know when to shop
If you have been shopping online for a while, you should know that there are days when buying is at its best. Vendors usually pick certain days to display deals. While the days are not fixed, there is usually a pattern to knowing when yet another deal day is coming up.
Prepare your budget for shopping and wait for the right day to buy at a better price.
Resist the urge to buy on impulse
Most buyers start regretting their purchasing decisions just a few days after getting their orders. So that you don’t find yourself in this bind, make sure you never buy anything on impulse.
It is better to shop with a list of needs and faithfully keep to that. Should you see anything else that catches your fancy, skip it. If you can’t resist the temptation, add the item to your shopping cart and allow it to stay there for a couple of days.
You would be able to view that item with a much clearer mind when next you look at it in the cart.
Christmas shopping with a VPN
We have already mentioned how shopping with a VPN can help you beat price discrimination.
This is possible when you leverage a basic feature of VPNs which allows you to browse from different locations in the world even though you are at the same physical location. With that in mind, you can check out how much the seller is listing the same item for in other regions all over the world.
However, that is just scratching the surface of how important a VPN is.
Many e-commerce stores have put practices in place to help secure the information of their buyers and sellers. No matter how secure they are though, a couple of back doors could still exist for hackers and scammers to take advantage of.
When breaches happen, your payment details are left exposed. This can lead to a partial or total loss of funds in your connected account.
Sometimes, this can also result from mistakes on your part. Shopping while connected to unsecured networks (such as public Wi-Fi networks) leaves all your information exposed to hackers who might be sniffing around such networks.
Even if you were on a personal, secured network, DNS leaks could leave you more exposed than you might have thought.
All these combine to make VPNs a must-have for any online shopper. To get started with shopping better and safer, here are some tips for shopping online using a VPN:
– Ensure you clear all browser cache and cookies before any search for products. That keeps you from being identified or tracked while shopping around.
– Launch your preferred VPN app (ExpressVPN works on all devices) and connect to a choice server location.
– Launch your browser and switch to Incognito/ Private browsing mode. Visit the online websites you want to shop from, search your preferred product(s) and note down the price(s).
– Clear your cookies, connect to another location and repeat the process again. You may keep repeating this for all locations or until you find a good deal. We also recommend trying other e-commerce stores.
– When you find the best price, ensure you read the terms and conditions of the online store before you commit to buying from them.
You shouldn’t have to pay exorbitantly or expose yourself just because you’d like to be a mini Santa this season. Keep the fun in online shopping alive, and don’t forget to keep your payment details secure too. For more tips on how to protect your privacy online, check out ExpressVPN’s blogs on Internet privacy guides to stay anonymous online.