13 Secrets To Online Shopping

By Scott Sarvay

November 1, 2010 Updated Nov 1, 2010 at 6:57 PM EDT

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (Indiana's NewsCenter) - Couponcraze.com is one of thousands of companies that rely on online shopping, according to the CEO of the company consumers need to use online coupons in addition to printable coupons.

New sites like Coupon Craze actually allow you to search for the item you're looking for and see which store is offering the best price.

As for expiration dates, they're subject to change, meaning consumers need to grab the deal that may not still be offered tomorrow.

While you can use a site like Google to search for a coupon code, some specific coupon sites work directly with retailers and may have exclusive deals.

There are actually better times of the months when the best coupon deals are offered; they include the 1st of the month, the middle of the month and the end of the month.

Also don't be afraid to try a new store, many companies offer slightly larger discounts to 1st time shoppers, but keep in mind, that discount can only be used once.

If you haven't searched for online coupons, you might be suspired how many major stores have them if you know where to look, most can be printed or applied directly to your online purchase.

Many local shopping outlets have also adapted the way they do business to accommodate online shoppers. Take Jefferson Pointe for example; if a retailer is offering a special, they'll list it online to help drive business.

Jefferson Pointe General Manager Mike Brooks says, “For example if Bath and Body Works is having a sale and they have camera ready art, we'll put that online. More and more people are looking online to gather their information and make their buying decisions and we want to have a presence their."

With the Christmas shopping season will come many online deals, just remember, read the fine print and be cautious of some coupon sites that may try to steer you to another site.

Here's a list of the 13 top coupon tips compiled by Reader's Digest:
1. Start Clicking and Stop Printing: First and foremost, be sure to use online coupons in addition to printable coupons. If you do come across an expired or faulty coupon, finding a replacement by doing a quick online search is much easier than if you’re already at the store in a checkout line.

2. Time it Right: Mark your calendar or create reoccurring reminders because the best online deals are offered three times a month: the very beginning, the very middle and the very end. Online stores post fresh coupons the 1st-3rd of the month, the 14-16th, and the 28th through the end of the month.

3. Check Out the Competition: Don’t wait until checkout to find a coupon. Start by visiting a coupon and deal site (CouponCraze.com) to search for the item you’re looking for. This will cut down on visits to multiple sites by allowing you to see which store is offering the best price.

4. Get the Truth About Expiration Dates: Expiration dates are subject to change. Stores reserve the right to expire coupon codes earlier than anticipated and without much notice. It can be due to increased demand or limited supply of products. Either way, act quickly on an offer because it may not be there the next day.

5. Go Beyond Google and Find Reliable Sites: By simply Googling “Nordstrom Coupon Code,” you’re going to find the most popular or generic code, which doesn’t guarantee the best discount. Instead, go directly to a reliable coupon code and deal site because they work directly with retailers and have access to exclusive coupons that don’t always come up in a Google search.

To determine whether a site is reliable, shoppers can look out for a couple of red flags. The first is sites that let users post coupons because the likelihood that those codes will be faulty or expired is much higher. Instead, use sites which ONLY post coupons that are approved by the merchant. The second is sites that have an expired coupons section or list expired coupons on the site. These sites are tricking consumers into thinking they have coupons for certain retailers and will end up wasting your time.

6. Beat the Promo Box: Make sure the discount is applied to your total BEFORE you make the purchase – a discount will never appear after you have purchased an item.

7. Avoid Shared Coupons: Avoid using sites that let users post coupons because the likelihood they will be faulty or expired is much higher. Instead use sites which ONLY post coupons that are approved by the merchant.

8. Use Coupons for Every Holiday: Coupon sites often have holiday or themed categories that will streamline your shopping experience by directing you to year-round and holiday-specific retailers that have the best price and selection. So this Valentine’s Day, start your search online to save.

9. Book Travel for Less: If you’re booking a packaged vacation, online coupons are the way to go. During the second half of the month travel sites offer new deals that are valid for the next month. These deals won’t be as specific as coupons for other items, but if you can be flexible, you’ll find unbeatable deals using online coupon sites.

10. Stack the Savings: The easiest way to stack coupons is to combine coupon codes with general free shipping offers. For example, you can combine a 10 percent off any purchase coupon with a free shipping with a $50 purchase coupon unless a restriction is specified. In general, two coupon codes can be stacked together if they are noted as “stackable.”

11. Do the Math: Retailers often offer both percentage off (10% off) and dollar amount off ($20 off) coupons at the same time, so be sure to do the math before choosing which to apply. There are times when a dollar off deal is better than a percentage discount and vice versa and retailers will often confuse you with minimums.

12. Try a New Store: Don’t be afraid to try out a new store. They often try to attract new customers with bigger discounts for first time shoppers. Savings can be five to 10 percent higher than the offer for all returning customers. But, remember these offers can only be used for your very first purchase at that retailer.

13. Get the Exclusive: Once you get the hang of online coupons, keep an eye out for exclusive coupon codes provided by sites. These coupons, marked as “Exclusive,” are often available for only a short time period, but can reap huge savings that will give you a leg up on other shoppers surfing the Web.

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