You don't always have to pay sticker price when you buy online.
If you'd like to save a little money on what you're buying anyway, here are two strategies you can try.
1. Abandon that cart.
After you log in to your account and put your selections in the cart (but before you pay), leave the site.
With some retailers, you'll get an email reminder within a day that you abandoned your shopping cart. And sometimes that reminder will come with a discount coupon to encourage you to finish shopping.
Mark LoCastro, a former spokesman for the online shopping guide DealNews, used this strategy during a sale on some high-end shoes. "Not only did I get the sale, I got the extra percent off," LoCastro says.
But this technique isn't a slam-dunk. Sometimes you'll receive only a reminder; sometimes you'll receive a discount; and sometimes you'll receive nothing at all.
That discount, if it does come, could be anywhere from 5% to 25%, says LoCastro, now the spokesman for LittleThings.com, a New York-based media startup. Although that's not a lot, with a more expensive purchase "the discount becomes more meaningful," he says.
Not all retailers track abandoned shopping carts, and not all the ones who do will offer discounts, says Hillary Mendelsohn, author of "thepurplebook: The Definitive Guide to Exceptional Online Shopping."
When they do:
- Coupons are most often for about 10% off or free shipping.
- Sometimes you'll get a reminder within the first 24 hours, and the discount will come a day later, says Mendelsohn.
You're also more likely to score a deal if you're a loyal customer, says LoCastro.
2. Ask for a better price.
Comparison shopping doesn't mean you have to buy from lesser-known sites to save a few bucks. These days, smart shopping could also net you a bargain at your favorite online store, says Mendelsohn.
So you want to buy from one online retailer, but you've found a cheaper price somewhere else?
Let your favorite site know. Customer service may match the competitor's price or at least offer a better deal, especially if you're a regular customer, says Mendelsohn, who used this strategy and saved $50 off the list price of a digital camera at one of her favorite e-tailers.
Here's how Mendelsohn says you should do it:
- Use those comment boxes on the site to explain that you love their store but found a better price elsewhere.
- Copy and paste the link to the item from your favorite site, as well as the link to the same item on the competing site, so that customer service has all the information at a glance.
Adds Mendelsohn, "The easier you make it, the more likely you are to get what you want."