Wednesday, 27 November 2013

I'm dreaming of an online Christmas

As the end of November quickly approaches, I can feel the pressure mounting to finish my Christmas shopping.

"But you've still got weeks until the big day", I hear you say.   

True, but I have not intention of being anywhere near a shopping centre in December.   

This is not only to protect my shins from wayward prams and my sanity from long cashier queues, but also to protect others from my irrational rage.

And the way things are heading, this might be the first Christmas where I don't even set foot inside a shop or shopping centre at all thanks to the wonderful world wide web.

While I don't mind shopping itself, I only really find it enjoyable in short bursts when I want to check out a particular store or I'm hunting for something in particular.   I'm not really into endless wandering around malls waiting for something amazing to just "pop" out at me.

This year I've full embraced online browsing to identify potential gifts and it's working a treat (well, the recipients may think otherwise).   Rather than having my choices confined to whatever stock is left on the shelves when I rock up, I'm discovering a broader and cheaper range on my laptop.  

If you're inclined to go online, time's a ticking to get it delivered before Christmas.   But it's not too late, and here's five tips to keep in mind.

1.  eBay, eBay, eBay
EBay isn't just the domain of second-hand goods.  So many Australian and international retailers have set up their stores on eBay offering brand new goods, particularly smaller, boutique retailers who don't have the resources to set up their own independent online store.   There's also the option to "buy it now" if you're not interested in the auction process, and make sure your searching "worldwide", not just "Australia" to really broaden your horizons.  In addition, it might be handy to have your eBay account up and running should you wish to offload any goods after Christmas!

2.  UK shipping is usually cheaper than the US
Whether it is on eBay or other online shops, for some strange reason shipping from the UK is fast (usually two weeks maximum) and cheap (or free), while shipping from the US can be really expensive.   

3.  You might get lucky
Keep an eye on, Cudo and a host of other sites that specialise in having a small but revolving selection of daily specials.   Most of the time they probably won't have what you're looking for, but you never ever know if you never ever go.

4.  Search for promotion codes
Once you've bought from an online store, they often encourage repeat business by sending out specials, with accompanying promotional codes, to their database.   Even if you haven't received these emails you can still take advantage of promotion codes.  There are a host of websites where people list the latest promotion codes for a whole range of online stores.  Pop them in before you go through the "checkout" and see if they're still current.

5.  Points needn't be pointless
You know all those loyalty schemes you joined, well now's the time to see if you can use those points for anything.  Let's face it, you're unlikely to ever accrue enough FlyBuys or Qantas points to actually fly anywhere, but you might be able to get a gift voucher or kettle with your point balance.  

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