Comparison Shopping Online Before You Buy In-Store

comparison_shopping_online_before_you_buy_in_storeIf you do most of your shopping online like me, you’ll know that certain items were not made to be sold on the internet.  I rarely buy things like dress shirts and pants online since it’s so tough to tell what type of cut a shirt is or how well a pair of pants will fit.  Even though Amazon now charges tax in CA, I still buy a lot of items there because of their low prices, free 2 day shipping and awesome customer service/return policy.

When I do have to go in store to shop though, I always make sure to compare prices online since once I’ve found what I want there’s no need to pay the higher price.  Let’s say I walk into a Banana Republic on a Saturday and pick out a pair of pants that I want.  The first thing I’ll do is go online on my phone and see if the price is the same on the website.  Often times, companies may have different pricing in-store compared to their website for the exact same product.

Mobile Comparison Shopping

One great use of my smartphone is for comparing prices when I’m out shopping.  I use the ebay and Amazon mobile apps to scan barcodes of products that I’m looking at in-store and then compare them to the prices online.  That way, I know that I’m comparing apples to apples since you can easily make a mistake otherwise.  Alternatively, you can also use the unique item code and search for that if the barcode method doesn’t yield the results you’re looking for.

Online Coupons are Easy to Find

If I decide that I want to buy the item online, I always end up searching for online vouchers.  The last item I bought online was a digital camera, so in this case, I did a quick google search for ‘Canon Rebel Online Coupon’ to see if anything came up.  I ended up using a coupon code that let me save over 40% on digital cameras.  A lot of times you should be able to find a coupon code and although it might not always save you 40%, you could easily get a 10-20% in savings for one google search’s worth of work.

Always Free Shipping

The great thing about shopping online is that all these companies are competing for your business.  Most of them will either offer free shipping straight up or with a minimum purchase.  Most companies set the free shipping threshold at $50 or $100 but return shipping is usually free so there’s no risk.  You can probably even return the item in-store too if that’s more convenient for you.  So even if I only want one shirt, I might buy it in another color just to see if I like that one better and so that I’ll reach the minimum threshold for free shipping.

Coming home from work to a box of new clothes or new shoes is a great feeling.  Online shopping can get addicting since it’s so easy and hassle-free so make sure you don’t get too carried away.  Even if it is online, it’s still real money.

Readers, do you ever get carried away online shopping?  What type of items do you buy in store and what do you buy online?

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-Harry @ PF Pro

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Hi, I'm Harry, the owner and head writer for Your PF Pro. I started this site back in 2011 in order to create a place where young professionals could come and get all of their financial questions answered. On the site, you'll find articles on everything from asset allocation for retirement to saving money at Chipotle! So enjoy..

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  1. says

    Cool. I’ll add a few thoughts.

    In store: I search for coupons while in the store; deals and coupon websites could tip me off to a coupon or friends and family weekend that you didn’t know about. Also, I try on different cuts of shirts and pants while in the store, so that I know what will fit properly the next time I’m shopping online and so all I’m really gambling on are the patterns.

    Also, *how* you pay could also matter. Sometimes, using the store’s own credit card could make the effective cost lowest thanks to the rewards you get back. Sometimes a third-party rewards card would get you more. And sometimes, you can save the most by buying a gift card online and then using that to pay. With this, remember that sometimes, multiple stores will accept the same gift card; for example, BR, Gap, and Old Navy take each other’s gift cards, and yet Gap gift cards are always cheaper than the other two.

    Buying online, there are even more opportunities to do things like this…
    Debtblag recently posted…How I make my own Gatorade to save money on runningMy Profile

    • says

      That’s a good idea about trying things on. I’ve done that before but since I rarely buy clothes, I tend to buy whatever’s on sale and not so much at a certain store.

      I have a Kohl’s cc that I signed up for when I bought a suit, that saved me a lot of money but I don’t have any other store cards. I’ve learned since then and usually the credit hit isn’t worth it to save a hundred bucks or so. I’d rather reserve those credit pulls for better sign-up bonuses.

    • says

      Yea I like BR but they have weird sizes. I’m a 34 x 32 at most places and with them, I’m a 34 x 34 haha. And yea they always seem to have some type of sale going on and their gift cards are always listed on sites like Plastic Jungle at a decent discount.

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