The internet has become a virtual mall, pun intended. Regular people all over the world are buying and selling consumer goods over the web. It has opened up the retail world to those who otherwise wouldn’t have the start-up cash to open a store, while enabling big business to cut costs during the recession, and it has made a diversity of goods available to people in remote locations. And where there are shoppers, there are bargain hunters. Part of the real-world shopping experience that has made it into cyberspace is saving money using vouchers.
Vouchers save the customer money by offering a discount of a given percentage or dollar amount on an item, or a cash rebate after the item is purchased. Online vouchers may be received via email or placed as an ad on a website (i.e. “Click here for this and other great offers…”).
One interesting take on the voucher is the promotional code. Some websites offer further discounts if the customer enters a code during check-out. This can be found on many websites, whether while ordering pizza online or buying a big ticket item. Codes may be given as a bonus during a previous order or printed in an online or paper flyer, and are also available from websites that specialize in promotional codes. These sites list links to all of the businesses for which they offer discounts. When clicked, the links bring the shopper to the store’s site where they can fill their virtual shopping cart and reap the rewards of the promo code.
Online vouchers have a number of advantages over paper ones. Unlike their real-world counterparts, they don’t require customers to clip coupons and make the trip to the store, and if internet users take care to only give out their personal information to trusted sites, their email inbox will be much less chaotic than a flier-stuffed mailbox. Plus, online promotions are forest-friendly.
Rebates, the less immediately gratifying of money-saving offers, are also made easier through the internet. While online rebates still, by definition, require shoppers to buy the item outright, as with other internet takeaway voucher codes the process of clipping, packaging, addressing, mailing, and waiting for someone on the other end to do the same is eliminated. While the first two steps, buying the product and sending in for the rebate, are still necessary, now all the customer has to do is send a quick message which is received instantly, speeding up the first half of the process, and as soon as it is received a cheque can be sent or money deposited directly to a PayPal account. No scissors, pen, envelope, stamp, walk to the post box and weeks-long wait.