Standard disclosure: we may earn money from the companies mentioned in this post. Visit my disclosure page for more info
Is it cheaper to buy online?
It’s a good question and one that occasionally generates some heated debate amongst experts. Keep in mind in what follows that this is just one viewpoint and it might not apply in all circumstances or your particular situation.
Why do people think online shopping offers better bargains?
It may be difficult to find anyone that will disagree with the statement that it is typically much cheaper for someone to sell stuff online or than it is to sell it through conventional high-street outlets.
Bricks and mortar buildings are expensive and having lots of staff in them even more so. As a result, if you are selling online and don’t have those overheads you should, in theory, be able to undercut the high street in terms of price.
Is this always true?
Well, perhaps not necessarily.
The fact is that it doesn’t take into account the purchasing clout of the person selling. A big nationwide supermarket chain might, for example, be able to buy certain types of domestic white goods at a far lower price than a relatively small internet retailer.
So, the bottom line is that typically the internet offers the opportunity to find some bargains but it only makes sense to check them against your traditional outlets in the high street or on the out of town retail parks etc.
What do you need to buy online?
In theory, not very much really!
You will obviously need some sort of device to give you access to the internet. That is typically a PC though today tablets and hand-held devices are an increasing feature of the marketplace.
You’ll also need an email id and of course some method of paying for your purchase online.
Online shopping suffers from one slight disadvantage in that typically payment will be electronic and many sellers may struggle to deal with things such as cash or cheque payments.
So, you will need to have a bank or credit card and sufficient funds to back that up. If you spot a bargain and want to move quickly but don’t have the funds immediately available, you can always consider the services of lenders like Wonga who might be able to get some funds into your bank account very quickly to cover your transaction. (Handle these financial affairs with care however as they can quickly get out of control if you don’t keep a sensible head about your spending.)
You’ll also need a delivery address unless you plan to collect the goods you have purchased yourself. Be aware that some online stores may not ship to an address other than that directly associated with your credit or bank card. That is a fraud reduction measure.
Online credit with sellers
You may find some electronic outlets that will offer you credit and deferred payment facilities but they will typically perform a credit history check before doing so.
Do be very sure that you understand the full range of charges they will apply for allowing you such credit. Sometimes, those charges might well make the deal suddenly seem less attractive than one based upon checks or cash in the high street.