Point, Click, Buy, and Save

Point, click and buy. Shopping has never been as convenient as when you do it online. For many of us, the Web has become one big, virtual department store, where anything –books, clothes, toys, souvenir items, pillow covers, airline tickets, whatever it is one needs (or wants)– can be purchased with a single mouse-click.

It used to be inconvenient. It used to be that we’d have to drive to the nearest Wal-Mart to buy things, and spend hours making rounds of the aisles, and fall in line and wait our turn at the cash register. It used to be that we’d have to make lists, push metal carts, carry heavy bags all the way to the parking lot, and sigh at the end of a long day that was spent looking for a particular kind of Air Jordans that Junior wanted for Christmas.

That’s rarely the case these days. Thanks to the rapid rise of technology, everything has now become available online. Even the metal cart –or, alternatively, the shopping bag– has gone virtual on us. From the comfort of our own homes, or our swivel chair in the office, we have grown to become a consumer generation that makes transactions the electronic way. Point, click and buy: the height of convenience indeed, with less time spent and less effort required.

But are we shopping at less cost?

As the world’s economy continues to plummet, the average Joe’s budget continues to tighten. And our online shopping behavior has become more thorough. Every penny counts, as they say. We are scouring the Internet for a website that sells this item for a cheaper price than the other website. We are Googling for bargains. We are asking bloggers for tips, and sellers for discounts, and retailers for better deals. Anything that will help us save a few more cents. A few more dollars.

It is then to no surprise that coupons are making a comeback; this time, though, they have gone paperless. Like everything else, they are being presented online – and redeemed online. Internet shopping carts are being tagged with snips that would take a percent or dollar off of a purchase. Whereas before, shoppers would clip newspaper cutouts for a meal ticket or collect coupons from boxes of breakfast cereals, we now have the Internet to avail ourselves of similar money-saving opportunities. Clearance sales used to be announced with a banner posted on a shop window – and rebates and discounts, in magazine inserts; now they’re being advertised with a colorful graphic on the sidebars of blogs and online stores.

These trends have driven the rise of websites, such as http://www.couponsaver.org/, that collect coupon information and promo codes to share to the rest of the online shoppers’ world. An increasing number of consumers, with varying demographics and needs, are visiting these sites to check out the most popular deals or monitor the latest promotional offers.

“I was very frustrated with not being able to find the coupons and promo codes that I wanted to use,” says Dave Stack, founder of Coupon Saver. “So instead of complaining about it, I decided to do something and ‘build a better mousetrap,’ as they say.”

Not that the mousetrap lessens the choices of the consumer. If anything, it increases them – all while ushering in a trend in shopping that is just as convenient, and yet also much cheaper: point, click, buy, and save.

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