Online vs offline: The best money saving ways to shop
Published 7 January 2015
Over the last couple of years, technology has changed the way we shop, with the internet breeding a new type of buying experience. We investigate whether you should stick with hitting the high street or embrace technology.
With the modern lifestyle being as busy as it is, consumers increasingly choose to use the most convenient shopping methods. For some, this means visiting a store to browse and purchase products, whereas for others it involves using apps and online sites to order the things they want and need. To investigate the most cost-effective ways to consume, we look at how to benefit from the different available shopping options.
Data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) has shown that this year, 74 per cent of adults bought goods or services online, up from 53 per cent in 2008. With these figures showing the impact that the internet has had on how we go about our daily lives, we look at how it has affected the way we shop.
Funnily enough, you have more rights shopping online than you do in-store. Due to the Consumer Contracts Regulations, you have a legal right to send most goods purchased online back within a fortnight for a full refund, even if there’s no fault. To purchase the same item in store, you would have no right to return the goods unless they were faulty. This division in rights has led to an increase in ‘robo-shoppers’- shoppers who go into the shop first to see a product and then order it from the same company online.
Price comparison sites
Online comparison websites are great for comparing the varying prices available for products. You can compare prices on a range of items, within a matter of minutes. When you head into a store, you are likely to settle for the price that’s in front of you, whereas if you shop online you have the ability to compare prices from a wider range of suppliers. Sites like mysupermarket are great for comparing prices on regular expenses such as grocery shopping.
There are many more opportunities to utilise discount codes online than there are in store. For example, retailers such as Dorothy Perkins, H&M and Amazon Fashion all offer between 10 and 25% off your first online order when you sign up to their newsletter.
Discounts can also be found at online outlet stores, where you can get discounts for high-street and high-end lines. You no longer have to drive to an outlet village to find such offers, with companies such as ASOS, M&S and Mango all having their own online outlet stores.
As has been shown by the ONS data, the vast majority of the population now do at least some of their shopping online, but there are still 26 per cent of people who don’t. Such individuals still see the benefits of shopping in store, where discount deals and haggling can help you to cut down costs and save money.
There are some special deals and advantages that can only be benefited from when shopping in store. These include in-store further reductions or ‘deals of the day’ that will commonly only be available for a limited time. Such offers can include a 3-for-2 sale, or giving a free product away with every sale.
As well as this, there are many gems to be found rummaging in the shop. For example, many stores place items that have minor imperfections to one side, with reductions being made for things like broken zips, dented packaging or small snags. Such items can be inexpensive to fix and you will have bagged yourself a bargain!
Haggling is not something we Brits traditionally enjoy doing, but it is something that we have the right to do nonetheless. There is no law that states that you cannot negotiate a price with a retailor and if you don’t ask, you certainly won’t get. If the thought of haggling leaves you in cold sweats, try some of our top tips:
• For haggling newbies, see if a sales assistant will chuck something into your sale for free. For example, some shoe polish to go with your new shoes.
• Many high street retailers will price-match internet prices, so find the cheapest available offer online and take this into store with you.
• If a product is already discounted, there’s often more flexibility for further reductions. For example if it’s the last sales item, the shop is likely to want to reclaim their display space. If you suggest a reduced price, they may just take you up on that offer.