Today's fierce competition among online retailers equals deals galore and more savings ahead for consumers. Retailers are going to great lengths to win customers right now, by expanding free shipping, increasing cash-back incentives and offering other cool perks.
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When purchasing goods and services for your business or personal needs, use these five tips to maximize the benefits of a good old free market retailer throw-down. Or employ one or more of these tips yourself to boost your own retail activities.
Remember: When retailers fight for customers, customers win.
Retailers use coupon codes as an incentive to get consumers like you and me to complete a purchase right now versus later. En route to buying, there's a pretty good chance those consumers can save a few bucks on whatever they're buying.
Here's the big problem with coupons, however: Consumers need to exercise caution because many free websites put out junk coupon codes to attract visitors. Is it worth your time, as a consumer, to search, copy and paste codes that may be expired or invalid? You’ll never need to search for a coupon code again with Piggy; this is a free Chrome extension that automatically saves you money online. Just click the "Piggy" button at checkout, and it will instantly search and apply the best coupon codes for you.
The war over free shipping
Walmart recently made a big splash by ditching its Amazon Prime-like subscription-offering in favor of free shipping on all orders over $35. In 2016, Amazon had raised its own standard free shipping threshold, from $25 to $49. However, shortly after Walmart’s move, Amazon reverted back to a $35 free shipping threshold.
So, the obvious message here is that even at Amazon's and Walmart’s insane order volumes, competition is alive and well. Shipping is a real expense, but the fierce competition they're in is forcing these giants to eat the cost and pass along the savings to customers.
The good news, if you're a small retailer, is that not everyone wants to shop only at the retail giants: Many smaller, cooler retailers also offer free shipping coupons that can easily be found with an automatic coupon extension, like Piggy.
Payoffs for patience
Not everything has to be delivered in two days or less, so Amazon gives Prime subscribers a discount if they’re willing to wait a few days. Jet.com, which was recently acquired by Walmart to help it compete with Amazon, offers all kinds of unique incentives, like discounts for waiving free returns, voluntary shipping elays and large-quantity orders.
Related: Walmart Adding 'Pickup Discount' to Online-Only Products
When stocking up on staples like laundry detergent, paper towels or juice boxes, making small concessions in return for discounts makes great financial sense.
Bulk and basics
Big-box stores are nothing new, but now they’re online. Shopping at these stores has always required an actual trip to the warehouse, then a search down seemingly endless aisles. And not seeing a store employee in what seems like a 10-mile radius is not exactly fun. But now you can skip these pain points and search for the same great savings, from your couch.
Examples? Check out Boxed for name-brand bulk buys and Thrivemarket for solid deals on natural and organic foods.
What's more, if you need charging cords, light bulbs or batteries, Amazon Basics is your new neighborhood hardware store. Amazon, after all, is a trusted brand built on amazing service and selection and its products are exactly the same as the name-brand versions.
In terms of discounts, buying the basics from Amazon is great for the customer and not so great for the competition. Before you buy another absurdly marked up lighting cable or pack of batteries, check the basics to save the buck. A little known fact? Groupon usually has heavy discounts for things like packs of batteries and other basics.
Get bonus cash back
"Cash back" is a lesser known but widely used and valuable incentive. Some apps loffer cash-back rewards, in addition to coupons, at thousands of stores. Shoppers are paid cash back based on a percentage of their purchase.
Best of all, this shopping perk can be combined with your credit-card rewards programs, like that of the Target Red Card, so you can double dip.
Related: 8 Shopping Habits of Millennials All Retailers Need to Know About
Just one click to activate cash back and apply coupons codes? Yes, please!