Everyone likes to save some money when shopping, take advantage of special offers or take advantage of big bargains. When it comes to dusting off desired items or everyday purchases at the lowest possible prices, we live in an almost golden age thanks to the Internet.
The medium has fundamentally changed our buying behavior anyway - in addition to the convenience of ordering in online shops, the often better prices certainly also play a role. But in addition to the often favorable terms and conditions, with a little time investment and know-how, you can save even more when shopping online and make incredible bargains every now and then.
We give tips on how to use all the advantages of the information superhighway to shop as cheaply as possible and order with a clear conscience.
Online shops: generally cheaper?
With the spread of the Internet, the mail order business was breathed completely new life. In the past, people ordered a wide variety of products from the thick mail-order catalogs, but the route via the diverse online shops has become everyday life.
Thanks to the Internet and some extremely successful trailblazers, it is now commonplace in all walks of life to order products of any category instead of buying them in retail stores. Every niche is now covered, in recent years even the internet shipping of groceries has continued to develop.
There are of course many reasons, not least the convenience, with which one can explain the success story of online trading. But one argument that applies to practically all product groups and inspires consumers is the price.
In many cases, online shops are cheaper on average than stationary retail. Only large chain stores and discounters can usually keep up with the prices on the Internet and even then online shops are often cheaper.
More favorable market conditions for shopping platforms
There are very simple, market-based reasons for this. The prices are related to the cost calculation, which in the two sectors depends on very different factors.
There are three main reasons that online mail order companies can compete for customers with lower prices:
- The operation costs are often lower. In principle, an online shop only needs the shop page and a warehouse for the products in order to operate in an acceptable manner. The maintenance and labor costs for the physical branch alone result in significantly higher expenses, which are reflected in the prices.
- The previously outgoing margins due to the shorter value chain are lower. Between manufacturers, wholesalers and other middlemen, a few percent are added to each station that the product passes through before it reaches the end customer. Large mail order companies have the advantage of skipping some of these stages thanks to large volumes. The savings are then passed on to customers.
- Last but not least, large mail-order shops can work with lower margins due to the broad customer base and the resulting large volume. The large number of orders that arise from the huge online retailers also creates opportunities for advantageous contracts with logistics companies.
Since there are fewer business costs and more customers can be reached through the range, the shops can push prices down so far that retailers can hardly keep up. The favorable conditions have become a trademark and thus almost a necessity of online shops. This has led to the fact that in some cases the prices even on online portals of traditional chain stores are lower than on site.
Alternative multichannel retail
Many large chains have already moved with the times and, in addition to their branches, also operate online trading under the same brand name - but that does not mean that the prices are the same. On the contrary, the internet prices are often much cheaper here too. So if you like to shop at a trusted store, you don't have to forego the price advantages and benefit from good advice.
Specialized retailers are often noticeably more expensive, especially for specialized goods such as luxury goods or expensive electronics. Enthusiasts, who are already extensively informed and are familiar with the prices, make up a large part of the customer base for these products. Without fair prices, these customers would not be addressed.
Products are often cheaper online for these reasons - but exceptions prove the rule. This is not always the case and the price differences vary greatly depending on the product group. The stationary trade can always offer very good prices, especially when it comes to special offers. In spite of everything, it can be worth taking a look around.
Take advantage of the wide range
One of the great advantages for end customers who are looking for the best possible prices on the Internet is the large number of different shops and products to choose from - even if most of the sales are concentrated on the most important providers. The internet and mail order business mean that you are not bound by geographic area, so you can practically search for the best prices anywhere in Germany or even across Europe.
In a nearby city center there are often only a handful of different shops, which limits the possibilities for shopping - this means that the pressure of competition is much lower, so that prices do not have to be lowered in order to undercut other market participants.
Since this is not the case in online trading, but all providers can be reached equally, they are forced to adjust their prices. However, due to the great competition among shops that offer the same or similar products, there are occasional noticeable price differences.
It is also worth comparing prices online
For end customers with patience and the will to save, this is only beneficial. If you take the time to browse through many different shops, you can benefit twice: on the one hand, this expands the range of goods from which you can choose, but on the other hand it also enables you to compare prices thoroughly and then ultimately buy where you can find the cheapest Get deal.
The price differences are often not particularly great, but if you make a habit of it, you can save a few percent with every purchase - that adds up. Over time, the empirical values give you a good feeling about which types of products or brands tend to be cheaper in which shops.
Use price comparison sites
Since the number of available shops has become very large and seems to be growing all the time, it becomes very time-consuming to work your way through the vastness of the Internet and also to weigh up which shops you find are reputable providers. Fortunately, there are tools that make this work easier. On the one hand, certain seals certify the trustworthiness of an online shop.
Various price comparison portals help to make it easier to find the right shop that sells the item you want as cheaply as possible. On these pages you can enter the goods you are looking for in order to get a list of reputable shops that carry the item. From this you can then choose the cheapest offer.
However, such a page shouldn't be the only research method when it comes to really finding the best deal. Even if many different stores are shown, it does not mean that the list is complete.
A little initiative is also required on such portals for several reasons:
- Prices are not always up to date. A disadvantage for customers of online shops are the frequently fluctuating prices. In some cases, the prices displayed change several times per hour - this means that comparison sites cannot always display the correct number.
- It is not possible for such sites to list all providers of the searched articles. Often there are still a handful of shops that also sell the products and possibly at lower prices. Especially with airlines, it is often actively prevented that the cheapest prices are displayed outside of the official website.
So that you always get the best conditions with these aids, you should first use them in addition to your own research. It is also important to always check the actual prices in the shopping cart and not to trust the total displayed on the price comparison site.
Second, it makes sense to use several different comparison services if possible. The list of stores they search for the best deals varies from page to page. So you don't get the full range to choose from on a single portal.
So the e-commerce market is highly competitive. Especially in the areas of customer acquisition and customer loyalty, the many different shops have to try to attract the attention of online shoppers.
Internet shops try to lure customers with extremely cheap bargains that you can hardly resist. Especially when individual shops carry out special offers or promotions with additional discounts, many products are available at unprecedented prices.
Often, special daily offers such as Black Friday or savings weeks from the big providers like Ebay and Amazon generate barely beatable prices - browsing the offer lists on these days can pay off as long as you don't allow yourself to be tempted to make unnecessary spontaneous purchases.
The right strategy - depending on the product
Whether or not it is worth waiting for a special offer when looking to purchase a particular item varies from case to case. There are regular promotions in many categories of consumer goods so that better prices can be achieved at short intervals.
Most shops have special pages for current special offers, where these are summarized. In any case, it is worthwhile to check this again and again to see whether there is an already pending purchase among the bargains.
In addition, there are online forums and groups on social networks that have made it their business to find particularly cheap offers - both in online shops and in stationary retail - and to share them with other interested parties. Sites like Wadav.com are committed to collecting the best promotions and can be helpful in finding offers to match. However, if you intend to benefit from the best prices as possible, you have to invest some time and react quickly if necessary.
A particularly hot offer is sold out faster, especially in retail, as soon as other bargain hunters get wind of it. Price errors, which occasionally lead to extremely cheap opportunities in digital shop systems, are usually fixed quickly.
For particularly motivated savers, it has always been a parade discipline - and even in the age of e-commerce it is still relevant: voucher shopping. By using such discounts, you can save additional money with a little time investment.
The advantage for online shoppers: These codes can be found quite easily on the Internet - the days of searching through voucher books, advertising catalogs and the like for hours are over.
These coupons usually have to be entered in a separate field before ordering or during the checkout process in order to receive the discount. Then either a few additional euros are deducted from the invoice, or, for example, the shipping costs are omitted when ordering.
Use discount codes and vouchers correctly
Many providers use vouchers and discount codes in order to compete for the favor of customers from outside their shop page and to get a larger number of visitors. You can usually find these codes on the website of the respective shop, but since these are mostly time-limited promotions without much warning, they are easy to miss. In addition, such codes are occasionally sent to existing customers by email in the form of a newsletter.
So that bargain hunters do not miss these opportunities - after all, it is also in the interests of the shops that buyers' attention is drawn to them - there are various voucher portals online. There, such offers are collected so that they are easy to find - suitable for various shopping portals or product categories.
So it is a good idea to do additional research before making a purchase. Since many shops work hand in hand with these portals in order to give their marketing campaigns the greatest possible impact, exclusive discounts are often available there.
However, a little sure instinct is required if you want to find practical benefits with this method. Since the discounts are often limited to certain products or product groups or are also tied to a minimum order value, you have to plan your purchase carefully.
eBay and Co - second hand with quality
Flea market was yesterday! If you don't shy away from buying second-hand things in order to get hold of particularly great bargains, you certainly know the hardships: Scouring flea markets and second-hand shops to find useful, high-quality things among a lot of stuff can be very tiring.
This is exactly where online portals have come in to create a better shopping experience. Instead of tedious, tiresome searches, it is now much easier to find items in good condition.
Further shopping platforms
Above all, auction houses such as eBay are of course the largest market for all kinds of second-hand items, but marketplaces such as Etsy or rebuy are also very good addresses for finding unusual items for a small budget. They are particularly recommended for vintage items. These portals have several advantages that make them perfect bargain sellers:
- You can search more specifically: Anyone who has already combed several flea markets for a very specific item without success will be infinitely grateful for this feature. You save yourself the eternal search and see immediately whether the desired article is available anywhere.
- Larger range: As with other online shops, the large number of items available is a real blessing. Thanks to the large range on offer in Germany, Europe or even worldwide, it is usually no problem to find rare items in very good condition or even unused.
- Safe quality: The portals do their best to protect buyers and to guarantee the high quality of the items sold as far as possible. Ratings from sellers, detailed condition descriptions and item images help to filter them out from the many offers with top quality.
Good bargains can be made with practically new second-hand goods, which are often more than half cheaper than the recommended retail price - but with a little effort. Because depending on the product group, the best items are in great demand, especially in auction houses.
You then have to assert yourself against many other bidders. So if you have set a fixed maximum price, you may have to make several attempts until the desired goods are available once.
The crux with the shipping costs
We have now summarized so many advantages of online shopping that one can almost speak of a hymn of praise. But even if you leave out frequently voiced criticism such as the disappearance of local specialist shops in the city center, the point of shipping costs must not be ignored.
Since the purchased products have to be shipped almost without exception - in individual cases it is possible to order online and then pick up the goods in a branch - the shipping costs are added to the cost of the products in the shopping cart. Individual items plus the shipping fee can ultimately be more expensive than the same item in retail.
These additional amounts often distort the realistic price somewhat - so you have to be careful before ordering. A shop with a higher item price may ultimately be cheaper because it is offset by lower or no shipping costs.
Therefore, it is important not to forget this aspect when using price comparison sites. If the opportunity is given, you should always select the option to display the cheapest total price including the costs of shipping.
Calculate shipping costs correctly
The shipping costs vary depending on the shop and the transport method. It is not uncommon for providers to use the elimination of the fee for a certain minimum order value as an incentive to increase the total value of the shopping cart. This opens up both the risk of buying actually unnecessary items, just so that no money is “wasted” on transport - but also the possibility of clever combinations of shopping carts.
If you buy online very often, you can buy several products at the same time in one order from the same provider - then the shipping costs are spread over more items or in some cases are completely eliminated thanks to the higher-order value. A good stopgap solution is bulk orders for friends and family in order to get the most efficient prices possible.