Online shopping: top tips, great sites
Everything’s going digital, so why should shopping be any different? Here’s what you need to know to get the best out of your e-commerce experience
THE year has been hurtling by and there’s less than two months to the start of the holiday season. Which means Christmas, gifts, shopping, shopping and more shopping.
It’s enough to send you into a flat panic, isn’t it? But there’s a way to avoid the madness of the malls and the tendency to spend more than you need to.
It’s called online shopping, of course – and it’s a way of doing all your festive season buying from the comfort of your couch or desk.
The cyber shopping phenomenon is increasing in this country, says Vincent Hoogduijn, CEO of the e-commerce division at Media24. Online retail grew by 25% in 2016, most of it thanks to “pure players” such as online stores Spree and Takealot.com.
“A pure player means the only distribution channel is online,” Vincent explains, “whereas a multi-retailer like Woolworths is a hybrid between online and offline.”
One of the best things about online shopping is the ability to find great bargains.
Here’s how to go about it, along with a list of SA’s best online shops and tips on how to keep safe and secure.
HOW DO I FIND A BARGAIN? SIGN UP FOR IT
No one likes a cluttered inbox, but if it’s bargains you’re after, you should sign up for retailers’ email newsletters.
Filter them in your inbox to a “shopping” folder to prevent your inbox becoming too cluttered, but don’t forget to check them regularly.
Retailers advertise bargains in their newsletters and signing up is a great way to ensure you don’t miss those special deals.
If a retailer has an app that offers online shopping, download it and accept the push notifications – these are usually the first heads-up that a sale has started or that discount vouchers are available.
Some retailers, such as Woolworths, make sale goods available online before sales start in stores, while others regularly have online-only sales as well as discounts not offered in their physical stores.
Shops like Takealot.com and Loot.co.za offer daily specials where goods are heavily discounted – up to 50% off or more – for one day only. Online auction site Bidorbuy.co.za hosts R1 auctions and other specials on Crazy Wednesday, Snap Friday and on weekends.
MAKE A WISH
Make use of the wish list option on your account. If you see something you like but you’re not in a rush to buy it, put it on your wish list – you’ll get an email notifying you if it’s on sale or if the price drops.
When an online store has a big sale – at the start of a season, for instance – it’s worth waiting a day or two if you don’t see anything you desperately have to have right there and then.
Stores often drastically drop the prices on sale items to move stock before the sale ends.
While online sellers are often cheaper than physical shops it’s a good idea to compare prices between online shops.
Websites such as Pricecheck.co.za do this for you – go to the website, type the product’s name in the search box and a list of sellers and prices will pop up.
Look out for big deals leading up to and on Black Friday on 24 November, a traditional day of sales following the Thanksgiving holiday in the US which has spread around the globe.
Cyber Monday on 27 November is also a big bargain day. This is usually the time of year when the best bargains can be found.