Smart ways to shop for jewelry and other items online

Lao Pride Inc’s financial experts share their insight on smart ways to shop online for jewelry as well as general items.

Shopping can be rewarding or maddening. We buy stuff we need. We buy stuff we want. And we buy stuff we neither need nor want, not always knowing why. The search for an answer to that question―why?

We must delve into fact-finding and reason in of the cultural, social, and psychological aspects of how people shop. There are clever marketers who provide us with endless reasons to buy, but at the end of the day, nobody actually forces us to pull out our wallets. So, our best protection against imprudent purchases is to be aware of what’s influencing us. Here are a few tips to help you be more mindful with your money spending online.

Be aware of store seduction

 Retailers operate on the theory that the quickest way to our credit cards is through our senses. The speakers at Abercrombie & Fitch pump out loud, bass-heavy beats to get teenage hormones rocking; hotels and spas are redolent with aromas of minty freshness; jewelry stores aim high-wattage halogen lights at watches and rings to bring out even more sparkle. These so-called atmospherics entice us so we linger longer and spend more, but keep in mind they don’t increase the value of the merchandise. Similarly, with online shopping, don’t let the glimmer of the shopping site blind you. Research first about the online store you are going to purchase from. Look for online reviews of the store that interests you.

Be watchful of variations in price

 This marketing term refers to the price that you expect to pay for something (because you have purchased a certain item several times before), and retailers are quite adept at messing with it. Take, for example, a can of tuna. The price in your head is probably around $2.25. But by shrinking the size of the can from six ounces to five, the sellers are making more money, even though the price looks unchanged to you. Though you aren’t going to study every price-weight fluctuation, being aware of this sleight of hand could save you money from time to time. Read product details mentioned on the product details page to make a more informed decision.

Know what you want

Some psychologists say that most of us fall into one of two categories: low self-monitors who aren’t too concerned with social feedback and make purchases based on their preference for a product, and high self-monitors who buy to fit in. In general, you’ll make smarter purchases if you stick to your shopping temperament. Ignore this self-awareness and quite a few buys will never make it out of your closet.

Freebies are not always free

Think quick: You’re offered a choice between a free $10 gift certificate and a $20 gift certificate for $7. Which would you take? When behavioral economist Dan Ariely tested shoppers at a Boston, they overwhelmingly opted for the free gift certificate, even though that meant losing out on a $13 profit. It’s easy to fall for ”Free!” but a price tag of zero can be costlier than it appears.

Shopping partner selection important

 Hitting the stores with a group of pals can be a pleasant way to spend a Saturday afternoon, but don’t lose sight of how others can influence your buying decisions. This phenomenon is often referred to as “group-level consideration,” meaning that the group, not you, establishes the spending norms and defines what is acceptable and condonable. So if the consensus holds that it’s reasonable to pay $600 for a pair of pumps, you may just find yourself out on the town in heels that scream (to you, at least), “What was I thinking?” Better to be shopping online rather than offline in this case.

“Mouse walking” – less tiring, more options

Pre-shopping online is natural for many of us. To the rest: Get clicking! Even if you prefer to buy at brick-and-mortar stores, you can earn savings with sites that seek the best deals (shopping.com, pricegrabber.com), offer customer reviews (epinions.com, tripadvisor.com), or publish wholesale and market prices to help you haggle.

Site search = your trusted friend

 You’re looking for a new mixer. Type its name into the site’s search function rather than using the category links (“Shop All Departments,” then “Kitchen,” “Small Appliances,” and, finally, “Mixers”). A study by a Massachusetts-based website research firm found that shoppers who use the link method are three times more likely to keep browsing after they’ve found their item and make three times as many impulse purchases as compared with those who use the search tool.

Treat yourself

Narrowly defined, the only things we really need are food, clothing, and shelter. But there are other needs that relate to our emotional well-being. Treating yourself to a charming piece of fine jewelry or a new top may lift the spirits and doesn’t necessarily mean you’re being reckless. Our view? Self-reward isn’t a crime; just stick within your budget. Furthermore, items such as fine jewelry or an expensive watch can have meaning far beyond being a frivolous purchase, whether purchased for oneself or given as a thoughtful gift.

In other words, to avoid buyer’s remorse, follow our tips and be an intentional, rather than impulsive, shopper, particularly when buying is done as easily as clicking on a link.

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