How to Shop Online Smart in 2021

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COVID hit the world hard in 2020, delaying shipping times, forcing people to isolate themselves, and making something as innocuous as shopping at the local Wal-Mart dangerous.

Understandably, many moved to online shopping for their groceries and purchases. Online shopping can be done from anywhere without putting themselves or others at risk. That said, there are a few tricks that many people end up not using. Today, let’s go over a few of these tricks and prepare you for the world of online shopping.

1. Be on the Lookout for Scams

To kick off this list, let’s start by talking about security. With the rise of online shopping comes cybercriminals who see a way to profit off of the inexperience of new online shoppers. A common online shopping scam is scamming people with a deal “too good to be true.”

These deals manipulate victims into believing they’re receiving a deal better than any big-box website is offering, often sending them to a random website created by the cybercriminal themselves. Once there, the victim is prompted to enter their information.

In the end, only the cybercriminal receives something: the victim’s information. If you see a deal too good to be true, don’t take it, and only shop from major retailers that you trust. After all, you can never be too careful while on the Internet.

2. Use a VPN for Security And Better Pricing

While on the topic of security, let’s discuss online activity. Online shopping comes with many perks, but it has a few downsides when it comes to security, including the visibility of your activity.

Unless you’re working from an encrypted network, your online activity is visible to cybercriminals on the same network, as well as your ISP, meaning they can collect your data at a moment’s notice.

Download a VPN to increase protection to remedy this. A VPN will encrypt your data and hide your online activity, keeping you secure. And if you don’t want a VPN for its security features, download one to get the best pricing available. After all, VPNs allow you to choose what country’s server you connect to, meaning you can change the regional pricing of certain products.

3. Take Advantage of Price-Matching

Ever purchased something only for it to drop in price a few days later? Fortunately, most retailers offer price-matching, a practice that has a retailer refund you the difference of what you paid and the newer, lower price. Take advantage of this as often as you can.

But what if you see a lower price for something you want, but it’s on a site you don’t shop with? In that case, check your preferred retailer’s price-matching policy. In these cases, the retailer is more than happy to price-match anyways. But again, always check their policy.

4. Buy Discounted Gift Cards

Not many shoppers know about discounted gift cards. Have you ever received a gift card you don’t want? Well, some sites will pay you to take those gift cards off you. What do these sites do with your gift cards? Offer them to other shoppers!

These sites sell gift cards at a discounted rate, meaning if you want the best deal possible, you may want to take a look and see if these sites have any discounted gift cards for your preferred retailer.

5. Purchase Open-Box Products (Tech Tip)

This tip is more for tech products and appliances, but you should always search for an open-box/refurbished option. Websites like Best Buy and Amazon deal with returns every day—returns usually in good condition. But because the product has been opened and maybe used, they’re discounted. Meaning, you can get the same product for a lower price. It’s a win-win!

With the increase in online shopping done thanks to COVID, it’s important that people understand these tips and tricks. There’s nothing better than scoring a good deal, and with these tips, you’ll be able to find the best of the best, no exceptions!

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