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In this series on productivity, author Jess Stratton takes you through the latest tools that will help you run your business and life more efficiently. Each installment covers a particular feature or technique in a different online tool, such as Google Apps, Skype, YouTube, Mint.com, Etsy, and more. Check back every Monday for tips on topics from recording and publishing video chats to managing your finances online.
Hi, I'm Jess Stratton, and welcome to Monday Productivity Pointers. I do a lot of buying online. I research what I need, I find a reputable online seller who has the product I need at a good price, and then I buy it. Here's what I'm going to show you today though. I never click that Submit Order button until I've done an exhaustive search online to see if there's a coupon or promotion code first. You may have noticed that the area down at the bottom on the online checkout screen has a section for a coupon code or a promotion code.
You may have used it before. Stores use these for current promotions they're running or they may have given you a special code via email, either in a newsletter or to handle a customer service matter. But sometimes the codes are out there and they aren't too widely known. You can search for them online and sometimes you can find 20% off deals or even free shipping. Let's try it out. Here's a site, thinkgeek.com and I'm at the checkout screen and before I finalize my order I can look on the right hand side of the screen and here's the section where I can put in a promotion code if I have one.
Now ThinkGeek has called it a promotion code. Some sites call it a coupon code, so definitely pay attention to what their wording is, Because we're going to use that later, when we search. Also, sometimes you can look on sites and they have special ads at the top of their screen for special promotions. Now it's not going to automatically take that promotion and apply it to your account. A lot of times it will give you a code right there on the home page, and it's up to you to remember it while you're shopping and putting it in.
For example, let's look on the top of the screen here. Here's a banner right at the top of ThinkGeek's page. Free shipping, no minimum. Use code CHASER. So it gives you that code. It's not going to calculate that automatically. It's up to you to come down here, enter this code and type the word CHASER. Now, you'll notice that when you're looking at other sites, for example, I've got one open right here. I'll go to macys.com and right on their homepage there's a great big banner ad that I can get an extra 15% off plus free shipping when I spend $75.
But look in very small print on the right hand side it says promo code CYBER. Again, it's not going to put this deal in automatically. It's up to me to remember it and put this code in when I'm at the checkout screen. So let's come back here to ThinkGeek. Now, I purposely waited til Cyber Monday, which is the Monday after Thanksgiving in the United States. It's a very popular shopping day. Because I knew that there would be some great examples of coupon codes on sites to show you.
But if this was just a normal day and there wasn't any good banner ads at the top of the page that lets you know any good deals, you can also go googling for some deals. Now remember when we looked at whether it was called a promotion code, promotional code or coupon code? Now we can go to Google and type, ThinkGeek promotion code. I'll hit enter, and the very first link is going to take me to a popular site called RetailMeNot that contains coupon codes for lots of companies. So I can click right on this link, and I can browse any existing coupons or well-known promotion codes for this site.
It's going to tell me when it expires. What kind of success rate other people have had by using the code. I can read comments to which people say any fine print about the deal or the coupon code. I can see what the deal is to see if it applies to what I'm actually buying. And then I can click Show Coupon Code to actually see it. So this will give me the actual code that I can then come in, and try to apply it in that checkout box. Now not all sites are created equal.
Sometimes you'll put in a code that appears to have worked for everybody else, but you'll get some sort of message like, I'm sorry, you can't use this. Or even worse, nothing happens at all. You'll put in the code, click apply or submit, and the code disappears and no discount is applied. When something like this happens, it's usually for one of three possible reasons. The first reason is that you just don't meet the particular requirements for that code. Sometimes you have to have a minimum purchase. Maybe to get that free shipping or 20% off your total order, you have to have spent a minimum of $50 or $75.
So look for the fine print if there is one. Secondly, sometimes you can't piggyback coupon codes. That is, if you've already got one in play, such as a coupon code for free shipping, you can't use another coupon code that you found for another 20% off. If there's more than one coupon code that applies to you, pick the one that's the best deal and use that one first just in case you aren't able to use the second one on top of that. And finally, lots of times coupon codes won't work on items that are already on sale online.
So if your code isn't going through and you still think that you match all the requirements, you may already be getting a discount on your products through a site-wide sale or a product sale, and so that coupon code doesn't apply. So that's todays tip. Use coupon codes and promotion codes. And even if you can't find one on the site always go to google and search for one. Because many, many times you will be surprised if you can find a nice little free shipping coupon code that you didn't even know was out there. You can save some real money this way.
So may all your searching give you free shipping and great deals. Happy retailing. Remember to always search for a promotion code and hopefully you can find some really good deals.
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