The internet has completely revolutionised the way in which we go about various aspects of our everyday lives. The way we work and play have changed. The way we bank and study.
And possibly most obviously, the way we shop.
US citizens are expected to spend over $300 billion online by 2016 and the most notable reason behind this (and why the money isn’t being spent offline) is the ease of use of shopping online. It’s quick, simple and generally speaking, cheap.
But as an ever-growing industry, this isn’t always the case and shopping online can be a particularly confusing and time-consuming process, which is why there have been a number of tools and resources created to allow you to make the most from your online shopping experience – with these five some of the most useful.
Cash back websites have gained a huge amount of popularity in recent years and after its introduction to the US market, TopCashBack.com is seen as one of the leaders in its field.
For those of you who don’t know what a cash back website it is, they essentially pay you for shopping. Gaining their money through commission from the vendor, the price doesn’t increase for you at all and in many cases, you might actually be able to get it cheaper because of deals or vouchers.
All you have to do is visit the cash back website and if the company you’re looking for is on there, you click through to them via the cash back website. Going on to make your purchase as normal (just making sure you don’t click away from the page), after you’ve paid your money, a few days or weeks later, you’ll see money in, for instance, your TopCashBack.com account from the sale (which could easily be between 5 and 10% of the purchase price).
An extension that can be downloaded and installed on most browsers, InvisibleHand quickly and easily notifies you if something you’re searching for can be found cheaper elsewhere.
Currently covering both products and flights, the best thing about InvisibleHand is that it essentially integrates within your entire shopping experience online when you need it to. Not intrusive in anyway, it only comes to life when you’re searching for something it can help with.
Working in a similar way to TopCashBack.com, in the sense that it doesn’t cost a thing to use and they get paid from the vendor if you click and go on to buy something through them, InvisibleHand can prove to be a fantastic way to ensure you’re truly getting the best deal possible on your products and flights.
Able to be used both through the CamelCamelCamel.com website and via its browser add-on / extension, CamelCamelCamel allows you to see the historic prices of products on a range of websites, most notably Amazon.
Maybe not something that the quick online shopper would use, CamelCamelCamel is fantastic because if you’re looking for bargains throughout the year and aren’t in any rush to buy, you can guesstimate whether the current price is the cheapest, whether it’s likely to increase next week or if you wait a month or two, if it will actually fall, meaning CamelCamelCamel could help to save you a small fortune.
An absolute must for the bargain shopper, ShoppingNotes is basically your own personal shopper who keeps an eye on the products you so desperately want. Giving you the ability to say when you want to be notified, you could choose a product on a website that’s $300 and say that you only want to be e-mailed when it falls to $150 (at which point ShoppingNotes will get in touch and alert you to the price change).
This isn’t to say the product will ever fall to that price or if the right colour or sizing will still be available if it does, but it’s a fantastic tool if you’ve been longing for a certain product and simply can’t afford it at the price it’s currently at.
Used by millions of online shoppers on a regular basis, PriceGrabber allows you to enter a product into its website and it will instantly present you with where you can buy it for the cheapest price, as well as numerous reviews around it. This means you can decide on where the best place to purchase it is based on a number of different factors.
Although it can be slightly confusing to start with, especially if you’re not using specifics (for example, type ‘Apple Mac’ into PriceGrabber and you’re presented with an array of different Apple Macs that you could buy), when you get your head around how it works, PriceGrabber could easily ensure you always buy the products you want at the absolute cheapest price possible online.