Many Canadians have already made the switch from crowded malls to online shopping for their holiday shopping. As the current pandemic isn’t showing any signs of going away, 48% of Canadians plan to purchase mostor allof their gifts online this year. 

For those of us who aren’t the savviest online shopper, there are some pitfalls to watch out for and strategies that will help you cross off every item on your gift listall with the click of a mouse. In this article, we’ll help you plan for the holidays by arming you with the ins and outs of navigating online shopping, so it’s not only stress-free but can also help save you money on holiday spending.

What to expect when online shopping

If you can follow Santa online, why not do your Christmas shopping online as well? For those who are new (or new-ish) to the world of online shopping, here’s what to expect when you’re expecting your delivery to arrive.

1. Shop ahead

In an effort to socially distance, more of us will choose online shopping over donning a face mask and braving the stores. When you shop online, check the item is available before adding it to your cart or when backorders are expected to be stock—especially if it’s one of this season’s must-have toys.

Canada Post announced that online shopping has already grown significantly and are urging Canadians to start their holiday shopping early. Along with additional safety measures they’ve implemented, customers should anticipate delays in the delivery of items. So plan (and shop) accordingly.

2. Read the fine print

You’ve ordered a stunning one-of-a-kind artwork for what seems like a bargain until you get your credit card bill. It’s only then you realize the amount you agreed to pay was in US dollars. Depending on where you order from, especially if it’s an international online site like Etsy, you may have to pay a foreign exchange rate. Check the fine print before you confirm your purchase.

Similarly, factor any additional shipping costs into your holiday spending budget, along with the time it will take to ship, especially if your parcel is coming from another country.

3. Protect your purchases

The rise of online shopping brings with it scams, including opportunistic porch pirates, who steal packages. So, it’s important to know how to avoid getting your item stolen, especially during busy times like Black Friday or the holiday season. While there are products on the market to protect your packages from being stolen outside your door, they don’t come cheap. If you’re expecting a delivery, follow the tracking number to see when it’s expected to arrive so that you can plan accordingly. Or ask a trusted neighbor or friend to collect the parcel for you.

4. Pick-up in person

If you’re nervous about having items shipped to your home, arrange for in-store or contactless curbside pick up. Many of Ampli’s partners, including Knix, Sporting Life, and Indigo.ca offer this service. In some cases, they’ll also do the wrapping for you too! It’s also a great option for anyone who doesn’t start their Christmas shopping until we’re into December (yes, we see you). 

6 tips for shopping online

You want to give your loved ones everything they wish for this holiday season. These tips will help you shop online without a hitch.

1. Pick a trusted website

To protect yourself, buy goods from reputable sites or brick-and-mortar stores with an online presence. You also want to ensure you have a secure internet connection when you buy, so look for the “safety lock” on your browser, which indicates the site is secure. When in doubt, do a quick Google search for the name of the business to see if any red flags come up before checking out. Similarly, read the reviews to see what others are saying about a product before you cross it off your gift list.

2. Price compare

Before you buy, it’s a good idea to compare prices and quality for the same type of product or service with another website or brand. Websites will also do the heavy lifting for you, such as Shopbot.ca, which compares the price on anything from the latest smartphone to perfume to books. We love a great bargain just as much as the next person, but remember, if the price of an item seems too good to be true, it just might be.

3. Save on shipping costs

While online shopping is certainly convenient, $6.95 in shipping and handling here and there can quickly add up. Many stores offer free shipping if you spend over a certain amount. So order items with a friend or other family member and split (or save!) on shipping costs

4. Check their return policy

Check what the return policy is when buying online ahead of time. Their return policy should be available online at the store website. Depending on the business, they may offer an extended holiday return policy to compensate for the busy period.

You also want to check whether returns are free of charge or if you’re expected to cover shipping. Keep in mind that even if you can return an item right away, it may take time for a replacement to arrive as COVID-19 is slowing down delivery processing. 

5. Search for coupons

Price comparing isn’t the only way to keep within your holiday budget. Ampli automatically applies cash back from retailers and reward opportunities—meaning you can double dip while earning regular reward points from other cards. Another option for Canadians is Save.ca. This website not only lets you check out local flyers in your area, including sales on electronics, toys, and entertainment, but also lists free coupons.

6. Get a gift receipt

Finally, remember to request a gift receipt at the time of purchase. That way, if another family member buys your taco-loving Uncle Melville the identical Dinosaur Taco Holder as you (hey, it could happen), then he can return it for someone else.

Make your holiday shopping experience a holly jolly one and earn cash back

Our wish is for everyone to have a safe and happy holiday season. Make online shopping a joy by downloading Ampli, and you could earn cash back when you make purchases online or in-store at partnering retailers like Knix, The Bay, and Best Buy.

This article offers general information only and is not intended as legal, financial, or other professional advice. A professional advisor should be consulted regarding your specific situation. While the information presented is believed to be factual and current, its accuracy is not guaranteed and it should not be regarded as a complete analysis of the subjects discussed. All expressions of opinion reflect the judgment of the author(s) as of the date of publication and are subject to change. No endorsement of any third parties or their advice, opinions, information, products, or services is expressly given or implied by Royal Bank of Canada or its affiliates.

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