In the digital age, we're spending less and less time heading out to the physical shops to grab a bargain, instead choosing to shop online from the comfort of our own home. That means there are lots of opportunities to make the most out of technology and internet-based tools that'll give us access to brilliant deals that you probably wouldn't find on the high street. Here, we've got 11 online shopping tips to share with you to show you how to get the best deals online in the UK.
Online shopping tips UK: Socialise
The first quick and easy thing you can do today, even if you're not planning on spending any money, is to come up with a list of your favourite brands and follow them on social media. Head over to Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and connect with companies you love. They often offer exclusive voucher codes and special deals that you wouldn't know about otherwise.
Online shopping tips UK: Newsletters
In a similar vein to our socialise tip, signing up to newsletters from your favourite brands is a great way to find out about sales, voucher codes and deals. Brands will often do flash sales that last for just 24 hours that you would miss otherwise, but the likelihood is that you check your emails daily so you shouldn't miss a thing.
Online shopping tips UK: Chatrooms
Have you ever been on a website and seen a little dialogue box that asks you if you need help? They usually lead to an online chatroom that'll let you speak directly to a representative of the company. We used to ignore these until we heard that if you say hello and ask if they have any voucher codes or promotions that they can tell you about, quite often they'll have something to offer that could save you some money.
Online shopping tips UK: Your basket
If you're not in a rush or are still undecided about a particular product, you can try leaving it in your basket overnight or for a couple of days. Sometimes, you'll find that brands will get in touch to ask if you still want that product, and often they'll offer you a special discount. You'll need to set up an account for the online store and make sure you're logged in when you're adding the product to your basket to make sure the brand knows who you are and how to contact you.
Online shopping tips UK: Shopping tools
There are various tools online that can help you keep track of bargains and find discounts. Money Saving Expert is one of the best places to find these tools.
If you shop on Amazon, you can keep track of bargains using the Amazon Discount Finder. You can use it to create links to specific deals pages that you can keep bookmarked and visit from time to time. You'll be able to specify exactly what you're looking for: You might want to see only technology at 50% or more off, for example. See also: Best Amazon tech deals
Money Saving Expert also has an Outlet Discount Finder tool that lets you choose the category of the product you're looking for, keywords that'll narrow down the search and the discount range you're hoping for. You'll know that all of the outlets listed are verified, official outlets that you should be able to trust.
Online shopping tips UK: Voucher codes
Online shopping tips UK: Secret sales
Bargain hunters will also like membership-based secret sales shopping sites, but don't forget that just because it's got 70% off doesn't mean you need it! (We've had to remind ourselves of this many, many times).
There are several secret sales sites around (they're not particularly secret, are they?), and they tend to offer luxury goods with big discounts. You'll have to sign up, and there are usually limited numbers of each item. Plus, it also tends to take quite a while for the products to arrive because they don't begin shipping until the offer ends, which could be in a week or two's time, so if you're looking for a birthday present or a gift for someone, you'll want to double check when it's due to arrive. Below is a list of secret sales websites that we'd recommend signing up to for deals on fashion, home ware, electricals and more.
Online shopping tips UK: Deal hunters
Online shopping tips UK: Cashback sites
This can be a bit hit and miss, but if you're willing to be patient it might be worth investigating cashback sites. TopCashBack is one with the highest reputation, and Quidco is also highly recommended. Both are free to sign up to (there are paid for options but we'd recommend avoiding those to begin with).
Once signed up, you simply need to go to those sites first and click through to the shop you're using from there.
Online shopping tips UK: Loyalty cards & reward schemes
Wherever you shop, check whether there's a loyalty or rewards scheme available. Even some of the secret sales websites have loyalty schemes that you can sign up to. This means you'll get points or some other sort of benefit every time you buy and they can soon add up. If you've got physical loyalty cards for stores you can more often than not connect these to your online store account, too.
Online shopping tips UK: Staying safe when shopping online
It's important to make sure that you are always shopping safely online. Take a look at our tips for staying safe when shopping online here.
If you've got any other online shopping tips you'd like to share, feel free to comment below.