How to be a Smart Shopper
Is shopping an adversarial activity for you? Do you consider it a personal accomplishment when you come home with bargains?
Being a smart shopper is not luck; it is about skill, timing and strategy. Here are some tips to maximize the power behind your dollar, and way in which to make your shopping trip more profitable.
Remember, you- as a consumer- have more power than you might think.
Research, Research, Research
Smart shopping is not about wandering the aisles in the stores. It is about coming up with a tactical plan with measurable steps. This grand plan starts quite humbly though- usually at your kitchen table.
Go through your local flyers and your best online deal sites weekly as you plan your shopping. Plan your shopping (and ultimately your list) around the sales, and not the other way around.
Make Your Own Sale
Are you an empowered shopper? Arm yourself with price match wherever you go. Rather than visiting a multitude of stores, sometimes it is simply enough to know what the sales are, and to bring the flyer with you.
Many stores will offer a price match guarantee, or honour competitor coupons, but be aware- this is an area in which you need to be a proactive shopper. You may have to ask for it, and in some cases even negotiate it (if it isn’t store policy). Even if it isn’t store policy, depending on the item, some stores are happy to oblige.
Operate strictly under the ‘you don’t ask, you don’t get’.
Is the advertised sale or promotion not available when you are in the store? Get a rain cheque and make darn sure that you go back to use it.
Stores often put forth a promotion with limited numbers as a lure to get you into the store, relying on human nature (which unfortunately sometimes incorporates poor planning) which means that most shoppers will not return to get said item.
However, they are dealing with a shopper with laser-sharp focus with you! Take the discounts that you are entitled to and use them.
Part of being a successful shopper is to understand retail mentality and to apply your methodology accordingly.
Double Check your Receipt
Many stores offer scan and display at the checkout, so make sure you are watching the screen total as your order is being rung through. Both human beings and machines are prone to errors, so it pays- literally- to pay attention.
Make sure totals are correct. Confirm that any discounts or coupons have been added. Pay particular attention to deals that require purchase of multiple items and make sure that those have been properly applied. Always plan to take a few minutes (once you are out of the checkout line, but before you leave the store) to go through your printed receipt.
Know your Options
Have you had a bad experience with a store or service provider? Do you feel as though you have been taken advantage of? Are there ever any circumstances in which you deserve your money back, but have challenges in doing so?
Thankfully, most retailers and service providers operate under a longer-term business model and hope to win repeat business from customers, so are often willing to listen.
However, there are avenues available for those who are not so lucky. Contact your Better Business Bureau (you may even find there are already complaints on file, strengthening your case). You can always contact the Competition Bureau as well, depending on the product or service in question, to make sure that an appropriate price was applied in the first place.