11 Innovative Online Shopping Hacks

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Sit back, relax, and cross off name after name on your shopping list from the comfort of your home with these tips, tricks, and tools for getting the most out of online shopping.

1. Consolidate Your Deal Emails

You already know to sign up for newsletters and deal sites to get the most bang for your online buck, but once they start cluttering your inbox, you’re more likely to ignore them. Unroll.me lets you unsubscribe instantly from any deadweight and then bundles the remaining gems into a single email that will arrive whenever you tell it to.

2. Make Sure You Get to Talk to Customer Service

Having to call customer service can be trying, but at least GetHuman.com makes it a little better. Type in a company and find out which phone number will take you to a real person and not a labyrinth of automated messages. You can also get a quote for the average wait time.

3. Sleep On Your Purchases

Online shopping makes it far too easy to impulse buy. To counteract this effect, after filling up your virtual cart full of goodies, step away from the screen. Sometimes, sites will email you a coupon if they notice you’ve left something in the cart for a day or two as an incentive. It’s not a guarantee, but if you start holiday shopping early enough, it’s certainly worth a try.

4. Track Sales for the Items You Want

Newsletters—bundled or otherwise—let you know when your favorite store is having a sale. But they can’t keep you from wasting time scrolling through the sale sections when there’s nothing you need or nothing in your size to find. ShopItToMe will track sales not only for specific brands, but also for specific styles and sizes so you know exactly when to strike.

5. Keep Your Passwords in One Place

If you sign up for all these innovative sites, you’re going to have a lot of passwords to remember. LastPass does the remembering for you and keeps your passwords secure so you don’t have to reset them every time you forget one.

6. Fill Out Your Boxes

If you go the online shopping route, you’re bound to buy a few items from Amazon this holiday season. For smaller purchases, you might not hit the free shipping threshold. That’s when you should check out Filler Item Finder. Just type in how much more you need to spend and it will show you everything you can get for exactly that amount.

7. Pay Attention to the Day

Sure, all these sites are great at telling you when what you want is on sale, but what if you don’t know what you want? If you’re going to browse, make sure you do it smartly. Avoid the temptation to spend a slow Sunday shopping online, since most brands roll out their discount codes on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday.

8. Automate Your Comparison Shopping

If you’re shopping for items available at multiple outlets, download PriceBlink before you start. This browser add-on saves you the trouble of having to comparison shop by pulling up prices for the same item at other stores and even lets you know if there are coupons you could be taking advantage of.

9. Learn Your History

Another great browser add-on is the Camelizer, which searches price history instead of competitor prices so you’ll know if it’s better to buy now or hold out for a deal.

10. Aggregate Experience Gifts

If you’re shopping for experiences and not products, check out Groolu, which aggregates location-specific deals from sites like Groupon and LivingSocial.

11. Ask for a Deal

Most online shopping sites now have a “chat” feature where you can communicate with a real live human being. Don’t harass them, of course, but if you’re truly on the fence about an item, let them know. They sometimes have the authority to use promo codes that may not be widely available.

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