Conventional bargain-hunting methods include checking coupon websites, subscribing to retailers' newsletters, and doing a quick Google search for a coupon code. But what do you do when these methods leave you without a discount? Consider these four alternatives that could easily ensure you don't pay full price when shopping online:
Use live chat. Many online retailers utilize a live chat service, where they have operators standing by to answer questions about products and services. In many cases, these operators are also armed with online coupon codes to give consumers just for the asking. Offers may include free shipping and up to 25 percent off your online purchase. If you can't find a coupon for a specific online retailer, open a chat session, if available, and politely ask the operator if they would be kind enough to share a coupon to help lower your bill. Remember to be polite, as many operators will be inclined to have you pay full price if you are rude or abrupt with them.
Abandon the shopping cart. Another online shopping trend that is gaining traction is the virtual cart abandonment strategy. In an effort to build customer loyalty, online retailers are sending a coupon code via email to shoppers who have abandoned their cart before finalizing their purchase. A few of the popular online retailers that are actively employing this technique include Best Buy, Lands' End, Zappo's, Home Depot, and Bass Pro Shops.
For this to work, you'll need to register with the retailer, login to your account, add the items you want to purchase to your cart or basket, and proceed through the checkout process until you reach the payment page. It is not until you reach the payment page that you want to abandon or logout of your shopping session. By doing this, you increase your chances of getting an email from the retailer saying something like, "Hi, please come back to our site and finish your purchase. As our way of saying how much we appreciate your business, use coupon code SAVE15 to get 15 percent off your next purchase."
Get social. Do you have a few online retailers you regularly shop at? If so, make sure you "'like" their Facebook page and follow them on Twitter. A majority of online retailers are using their social media accounts to not only interact with loyal shoppers but to share coupons and discounts. Many of these coupons are exclusively provided to their social media followers and can't be found anywhere else online.
Discounted Gift Cards. Are you aware you can purchase gift cards to popular online stores at less than face value? Do a quick Google search for "discounted gift cards" and you'll find reputable websites that buy and sell gift cards. These sites purchase unwanted gift cards from consumers and re-sell them for slightly more than what they paid. For example, they might buy a $100 gift card for $85 and resell it to you for $92 with free shipping. This is a great savings strategy for consumers if you know you are going to purchase a high-priced item from a specific retailer. You can easily save 10 to 15 percent by buying discounted gift cards. They also make for great last-minute gift ideas.
As technology changes, so does the way retailers interact with customers. As savvy consumers, knowledge is power, and that has never been truer than in the world of technology and the Internet. By knowing these four unconventional ways to find a coupon or deal, you have a new arsenal of tools at your disposal when shopping online. No longer are you forced to pay full price when a coupon seems unavailable.
Kyle James operates Rather-Be-Shopping.com which specializes in online coupon codes, printable coupons, and mobile coupons for over 800 popular retailers. Top stores include Lands' End, American Eagle, Macy's, Wal-Mart, and Best Buy.
More From US News & World Report