This holiday season, there is still a rush to retailers, but not so much in the brick and mortar stores.
Between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday, shoppers rang up $29.8 billion in online purchases. You could be saving money if you know some tricks of the trade.
News 13 has some tips that could help stretch your holiday budget.
Instead of shopping the aisles of your favorite retailer this holiday season, shoppers taking pandemic precautions bought tens of billions from the comfort of home, online. That’s giving retailers more data on your spending habits.
“You are the product. The more they know about you, guess what, the more they try to sell to you,” said Francie Black, of WLOS’s Tech Time and iPadWisdom Technology consultant.
Where and when you shop, could determine what you pay. It’s called dynamic pricing, a strategy retailers use to change prices based on supply, demand and you.
“Amazon, it’s reported that they change prices over two million times a day, up to every 10 minutes. Demand, availability, consumer browsing history, so those are just a couple of the many, many factors that are in their algorithm that may change a price by 2 cents, $2 or$10,” Black said.
Savvy customers using the right tools can make buying online work to their advantage.
“Try two different browsers if you want to see if there’s two different prices,” Black said.
Shop the same items, same retailer in Chrome and Safari and compare. A browser extension can also help you comparison shop.
“It’s a little piece of software, and it adds functionality to your browser,” Black said.
Black recommends browser extension Honey, which gives you pricing history for products.
“So, just a few days ago, this was $50 less. So, that’s a significant savings, especially on a high-priced item,” Black said.
You can track price drops, get advice if its worth waiting and set a price alert to buy when the price drops again. Camel, Camel, Camel does the same.
“And it gives you the complete price history for that item and look at the fluctuation in this pricing,” Black explained.
PriceBlink is another browser extension that compares the same product across retailers.
“It will tell me right now where this product is and you can compare it instantly,” Black said.
It’s also easier to shop incognito. That hides your shopping history, which can influence pricing. Many browsers like Google make it as easy, with one click.
“There’s limited tracking about you, so it’s not passing information back and forth, its not storing that information in your browser,” Black said.
When you’re ready to check out, Norton Lifelock’s Senior Principal Researcher Daniel Kats recommends using a digital wallet. It’s a digital version of your credit or debit card that uses a code or token versus your credit card number to buy.
“The merchant doesn’t see your credit card number and then that number (the token or code) can’t be reused in a future transaction,” Kats said.
“It limits the downside to how much you can get scammed or it limits the downside if that number is ever leaked because there’s not much scammers can do with that information,” Kats said.
The experts say it’s risky using your credit card on public Wi-Fi and don’t rush on any email or text offers that want you to act now for deals. They’re likely after your data, too.
“One thing you can do is not click on those links directly in the email or the text message, but go to the retailer’s site directly to make sure this is a real offering,” Kats said.
From big box retailers including Home Depot to local restaurants many retailers offer electronic gift cards or digital gift cards as a contactless present. Norton Lifelock cautions only buy from reputable retailers, make sure you have the correct contact information and follow up to ensure the recipient got it and it didn’t land in their spam filter. These cards also open you up to more data shared with retailers about you and your extended family.
“Not only are they seeing what vendors you’re buying from, how much you’re buying for a card, but who you’re giving it to, and then their spending habits. So, it’s relationships, it’s the social feed, the social circle that you’re in,” Black said.
With shipping concerns, consider shipping directly to the gift recipient. The 15th of December is the FedEx and UPS deadline for sending packages for ground delivery rates. The USPS deadline is Dec. 18. And while 97 percent of packages are getting there on time, delivery services, because of the volumes this holiday season, are offering no guarantees.
After the holidays, get a free credit report from one of the three nationwide credit reporting agencies. You can find links to those agencies below:
If you need help on downloading a browser extension, check out the video below.