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Health, Beauty & Fashion

Be a savvy online shopper

Here's how to get the most out of your online shopping
The Straits Times - December 7, 2011
By: Jasmine Osada
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Be a savvy online shopper PHOTO: BERITA HARIAN

You can avoid the crowded malls and get your Christmas shopping done on time - just head online. You can enjoy lower prices and even free international shipping. Here are some handy shopping tips to keep in mind:

Look out for seasonal offers

Online retailers often throw in special discounts or offers during the festive season.

A very good example is the annual Black Friday sale, which takes place on the Friday after the Thanksgiving holiday in the United States in November.

Online retailers and websites like Amazon, Best Buy and Target have great offerings for the stay-home shopping crowd and some offer hourly deals for patient shoppers.

The deals can be amazing. During the recent Amazon Black Friday sale, the recently released The Lord of the Rings: The Motion Picture Trilogy blu-ray set was going for just US$49.99 (S$64.14). It retails for $189 here.

Keep an eye out for promotions like free shipping and discounts, but do note that online stores based overseas may not extend such offers to international customers, so read the fine print before buying.

For example, local women's apparel retailer and American watch retailer are offering additional discounts and free shipping to shoppers who use PayPal.

Save on shipping, buy local

Shopping online does not necessarily mean you have to purchase something from overseas.

According to PayPal, nearly

40 per cent of all online shopping transactions in Singapore, or some $420 million worth of items, are from local websites.

Buying from local websites has its advantages. For one thing, shipping is much cheaper; in fact, it might even be free. Items will also reach you faster.

However, postal and courier services worldwide usually experience an increase in mail volume during the festive season, so items may take longer than usual to arrive at your doorstep.

Another caveat is that some companies calculate charges based on volumetric weight, which means the bigger the box, the more you pay, even if the item in it is just one paperback.

In fact, shipping may cost more than the item itself, so it pays to rope in friends and buy more items to split shipping costs.

Beware the dodgy ones

While there are plenty of genuine good deals out there, beware the suspicious ones.

Watch out for those that require you to subscribe to regular payments and read the fine print before providing your credit card information.

Such subscription deals might tie you to a series of long-term payments for items or services that you do not need.

Read the return policy

Before making your purchase, find out more about the store's return policy. Find out how easy - or difficult - it is to return an item should you need to.

Some sale items cannot be returned, even if they were unopened or unused.

Electronic gifts such as a digital subscription or virtual credit for music, game or software downloads might be some items that cannot be returned.

Some stores may offer to pay part of the return shipping costs while others may require you to send the item back only by courier service, which can make the return process troublesome and expensive.



Sniffing out a good loaf of bread