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4 smart ways to save big when shopping online

October 05, 2017 08:31 IST

Websites that compare product prices and offer cashback can help you get attractive deals and discounts. Tinesh Bhasin reports.

If you missed the deals in recent mega sales by online retailers, don't be disappointed. Several platforms and tools can help you save money by giving cashbacks and alerting you when online retailers lower prices in future.

"Shoppers can get many of the products that were offered in the sale at discounted prices a few days or weeks later. Online shopping platforms come up with deals in one product category or the other all year round to attract shoppers. There are, however, a few deals that you probably cannot get again. Such one-off deals are offered to create a buzz around the shopping festivals," says Swati Bhargava, co-founder, CashKaro.com.

 

During the mega sales that ended, top e-commerce platforms such as Amazon and Paytm sold a 13-inch MacBook Air 2017 for an effective price between Rs 43,500 and Rs 45,000, after various discounts.

It's usually sold between Rs 55,000 and Rs 58,500. It was a one-off deal. But, if you want to buy, say, a Bluetooth speaker or a mobile phone, you can get these again at a discount in the future. And, some online platforms that do affiliate marketing can help.

The big sale events from online shopping websites have also become frequent. Most online players held a sale in the second week of August and another one concluded on September 24.

"As e-commerce players try to widen their shopper base and increase market share, they hold mega sales every four-five months," says Anurag Jain, COO and co-founder at GirnarSoft, a company that owns price comparison website PriceDekho.com.

1. Get cashback on spending

Websites offering cashback on every purchase are increasingly becoming popular. To get more business and widen their customer base, e-commerce players offer commissions to marketing affiliates that send users to their websites.

Platforms such as CashKaro.com and GoPaisa.com pass on part of this commission back to shoppers.

"The cashback depends on the product category and shopping website. It can range between two per cent and even 35 per cent. We pass on 70-80 per cent of it to shoppers," says Bhargava.

The cashback goes into the customer's account on these websites and can be used for the next transaction. Some also give an option to transfer the money to bank accounts and mobile wallets.

On certain websites like Jabong, the cashback is flat. If an individual purchases, say, United Colors of Benetton (UCB) navy blue Shirt at Rs 855, he gets a cashback of Rs 250.

The effective price of the purchase comes to Rs 605. The cashbacks are on top of the discounts the website offers. The UCB shirt, for example, is already discounted by 55 per cent. The percentage of cashback depends on the final price the user pays on checkout.

2. Comparisons made easy

The primary feature of a price comparison platform is to let shoppers compare the prices of products. If you want to buy a television, you can go to websites such as PriceDekho.com, CompareRaja.in, MySmartPrice.com, Buyhatke.com and Smartprix.com.

They will show you the current prices available at different online retailers and whether there are any debit/credit card or exchange offers available. Buyers can see the prices on a single page and where the product of their choice is the cheapest.

These websites have been adding more features and functionality. On some, you can see the price trend -- the lowest and the highest price at which the item has been selling. Most also let you fix a price alert and you get an e-mail whenever the price drops.

These platforms also have staff that manually scan big online retailers for deals. Attractive ones are added to the website.

"While we use machine learning to track over 100 million products across 2,000 websites automatically, shoppers can also curate deals and post on our social media channels that can help other consumers," says Gaurav Dahake, founder and chief executive officer (CEO), Buyhatke.com.

3. Get coupon codes

When coupon websites got started in the developed markets, the idea was to give website visitors exclusive coupons to shop.

India being a price-sensitive market, online retailers don't issue exclusive coupons. Most of the coupon websites, therefore, give out the same discount codes that e-retailers offer on their websites. But, if you don't plan your purchase and buy discounted items impulsively, websites such as CouponRaja.in, FreekaaMaal.com, CupoNation.in, CouponDunia.in, and so on can come handy.

They categorise the coupons and inform users of the best deals available. Some like CouponRaja.in have started tying up with online shopping websites and offline service providers for exclusive deals.

4. Use online retailers' apps

Online platforms offer exclusive deals on their apps that are not available if you access these on a browser. Just add the product to your wish list.

Whenever the price drops, they send an alert that the item you want is now available at a discount.

"The in-app purchases provide better insights to companies as compared to the website such as the location of the user, the time he shops, and so on. Such insights can be used for better user engagement with buyers. Also, chances of repeat purchase increase when a shopper uses an app," says Rohit Chugh, CEO & founder of Logicserve Group, a company that owns CompareRaja.in, and CouponRaja.in.

If you want to save the hassle of even going to these websites individually, most of these have a mobile app and browser extension.

When you set a price alert, the browser extension sends a notification informing about the discount.

Photograph: Reuters.

Tinesh Bhasin
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