If youre one of the 8.4-millionCanadians who shop online, and you pay full price for your purchases, you may want to consider adding the words coupon and Canada in the Google search bar when typing in the name of the item or service you want to buy.
Michael Darden, a representative from CouponCodes4U.com, which launched in November 2009, says his site saved consumers $5.3-million in January alone.
There are two different forms of coupons that can be found online. One type can be downloaded, printed off and brought into stores, and the other type is paperless.
The paperless coupons work when making a purchase online, generally with a credit card. These coupons are in the form of codes, such as ABC001 or FreePop002, for example.
On many sites, once you get past the Shopping Cart stage and into the Checkout stage, there is an option to enter a discount code.
The savings can be as significant as $100 off a Dell purchaseof a computer worth $800 or more, 50% off tickets to the current Toronto production of Mamma Mia , based on the songs of 70s pop band ABBA, or 50% off a box of contact lenses.
Most of the deals are for smaller items, like a free appetizer at Swiss Chalet, a free whopper from Burger King, or 10% off clothes at Gen. Y favourite American Apparel one of the few clothing companies that manufactures its clothes in North America.
With a little leg work, or in this case finger work you can save hugely, CEO of AIS MediaThomas Harpointer says.
Theres no shortage of coupon websites, but not all of them have deals applicable in Canada. Of the websites that do have coupons for Canada, many are difficult to navigate. Because they are easy to navigate, my favourite websites for coupons in Canada are as follows:
Some of the pioneer savings websites were made by loyal consumers who shared coupon codes that they received after spending specified amounts of money with companies, much in the same fashion as how people share movies or music on the Internet, but today, the majority of these sites are intermediary sites that have contracted relationships with companies.
Everybody likes a bargain, Harpointer says. Thats why its a good idea for a business to use an intermediary site to distribute its coupons, he says. It gives the customer the feeling that they outsmarted not only other customers but also the business itself.
Companies like Air Canada and WestJet offer discounts of up to 20% or 30% off, but the coupon codes usually have short expiry dates, so you need to check for deals daily, Harpointer says.
One time, I was literally on my computer looking for a flight and suddenly the price shot up $120. I called customer service but they wouldnt change the price for me, Harpointer says.
Subscribing to a company newsletter or following a company on Facebook or Twitter is a great way to stay up-to-date on limited-time promotions, Harpointer says.
Not surprisingly, there have been instances of companies who increase their online prices and then offer discounts. Thats why its important to be a smart consumer, says University of Albertas Kyle Murray.
Sometimes the sale price of one companys product is still more expensive than another companys regular price.
When asked about fake coupons, Harpointer, an e-commerce consultant, says its silly for companies to turn away people trying to use a fake coupon.
You have a customer probably someone who has never been there before standing in your store, at the checkout, wanting to make a purchase, Harpointer says. It would be pig-headed to turn away a potential customer, Harpointer says, regardless of whether the fake coupon might mess up the tracking system.
With brand loyalty so important in todays marketplace, getting a new customer to even step foot in your store is huge, Harpointer says.
Companies like 1-800 Flowers have their business plans already set up so that theyll profit even if a customer pays 10% less than everyone else, Harpointer says.
Since such a small minority of consumers take advantage of these coupons and coupon codes, Murray says we wont see them disappearing anytime soon.
Its marketing, Harpointer says.
I agree. Though Ive already seen Mamma Mia, you wouldnt have to twist my arm to enter the code RockMusic when purchasing tickets for the new musical in Toronto, Rock of Ages .
With a 25% discount, the savings is $50 when buying two $100 tickets. With a deal like that, I might even be able to come home with a laminated playbill.