Just some random bits.
Most of the time when I shop I am looking for a specific item from a specific brand. It gets more complicated (but perhaps easier to find deals and save money) if you are less specific about what you are shopping for.
Sometimes it may take a discussion with customer service. Now, this doesn’t mean taking advantage of people but it means taking a stand for yourself. I won’t speak to the specific company but I received an item that was shipped to me damaged. Any item that arrives damaged should be replaced by the company. In this case, I needed the item as I was using it for house decor in anticipation of company. I didn’t really want to wait for a new item to arrive. The damage was frustrating but it seemed like something we could potentially fix with some time and equipment. Because that was going to cost me more effort and material I discussed options with the customer service. They offered to either replace the item or give me a portion of the cost back for my trouble.
Sometimes customer service will be willing to extend an offer that recently expired. I bought a piece of artwork from an online retailer that had a huge sale going on the day before. I asked customer service if they were willing to extend the sale if I bought the item with them that day. It’s worth asking.
Timing! If you don’t need the item this week, wait for promotions, wait for deals, wait for discounts to arrive in your inbox. Watch for sales on shoes if you know you’ll need shoes in the next few months.
Shipping! Shipping can be a huge expense. There are so many ways around paying shipping costs. For example, if you have an American Express card you can sign up for ShopRunner which partners with a lot of sites for free 2-day shipping. I almost never pay shipping, only once in a blue moon if I need a specific item that is hard to find and has only a couple (or just one) retailers without free shipping offers. Most websites have a minimum order for free shipping and it can be worth it to add other things you may need in the future, in order to save on shipping costs. Amazon Prime is another program that suppresses shippings costs (and allows for quick shipping and free returns).
Do I just buy the item I find online right away, or buy it at the store that I know carries it (i.e. New Balance shoes at New Balance)? Never. Occasionally there is an item that is store-exclusive and will not be found on other retail websites. But that is rare.
For an example, I went to an [unnamed] department store to try on jeans and pants. I finally found the ones I liked the best but since they didn’t carry my size, we searched online before leaving the store (and before having them order me a pair from another location). We found the same pants on Amazon along with a 20% off coupon code for that specific clothing line. Now I get the same pair of pants, with free returns if they don’t fit, they arrive at my front door, and I save 20% of the cost.
If you are looking for a specific item you can simply enter the item name in Google and your results will (hopefully) be filled with listings of them item on various websites. If you are looking for a Marmot 4-person orange tent, you may find listings at Cabela’s, REI, backcountry.com, and many other camping and outdoors websites. Look around and compare the prices. Do any of the sites offer coupons or discounts for the item, or coupons for new customers? In addition, now that you learned about “cashback” you can take all of the websites that your item is sold through and see which one offers the greatest amount of cashback.