When you’re shopping online and you go to check out, do you ever wonder if that blank box for the promotional code is just a tease? How can you crack the code?
Barry Boone thinks he has the answer.
In 2000, the new dad was shopping online for deals on diapers, formula and baby clothes and sharing his finds with friends and family on his personal homepage. He started receiving emails from random people who found his site and thanked him for helping them and sometimes even sent their own coupon finds his way. With his background in technology, Barry was able to set up a website to store the coupons.
CurrentCodes.com was born.
Starting with coupons and promotional codes for 100 stores, Barry created a loyal online following and today CurrentCodes.com sees a steady stream of 500,000 visitors each month.
Barry’s idea was initially greeted with cease and desist letters from retailers, but once he pulled the coupons down he would receive a call or an email from the company asking him to repost them and even offering up several others.
“I think they didn’t know what to think of us at first, then decided that it was important to make sure bargain shoppers could find coupons if that would get them the sale versus their competition,” Barry said.
With no outside funding and no other investors to this day, Barry hires a full-time staff. Now, mega-stores like Amazon.com and Overstock.com pay Barry a certain amount of money for every customer who links to their Web site from CurrentCodes.com and makes a purchase. Barry receives a certain percent of the amount spent, and retailers can offer a higher percentage to Barry in return for a larger logo on CurrentCodes.com. At any given time, the site offers up thousands of codes to frugal consumers. Everyone wins – the customer saves money, and both CurrentCodes.com and the retailer make money.
Most frequently, retailers contact the site directly to ask to be added, but visitors also suggest retailers for which they’d like to get discounts. Barry’s team also sources codes themselves. CurrentCodes.com primarily lists stores that sell to a national or large regional audience.
“The incentive is that if someone comes to our site looking for coupons for say books, or shoes, or that store, or anything really, that their store gets listed along with any coupons to sweeten the deal and close the sale,” Barry said. “After all, especially in this economy, most people are looking for bargains, and the companies are well served to make sure those customers can find discounts.”
Barry, also the founder of the popular site DealHunting.com, shared some of his frugal online shopping tips with FF readers below:
1 - Always check for a coupon or promotional code before checking out online.
2 - If you know the exact product you want to purchase, it pays to do research and visit several online retailers to get the best price.
3 - In general, it is far safer to use a credit card than a debit card for shopping online. Most debit cards do not offer the same level of safety that a credit card does, and when an unexpected or erroneous charge shows up on your debit card, the money is taken from your bank account and you can end up with bounced checks or other issues before you realize the problem has occurred.
4 - Always be sure that the final checkout screen shows the correct items, quantities, and pricing before you submit your order.
6 - Some merchants are required to collect sales taxes in your state while others might not. It can pay to check several online retailers if the merchant you're about to purchase from wants to charge sales tax.
7 - Pay close attention to shipping charges. Some retailers make up their low prices by padding the shipping, so you want to be sure you're getting the lowest possible overall price.
8 - Sunday newspaper fliers, fliers you get in the mail and other ads you may get will list many sale priced items, but increasingly merchants are mixing in normal priced items with the sale items. The companies do a lot of research and have figured out that people assume that products listed in these ads are on sale.
9 - Long gone are the days that merchants could get away with using words like “sale” or “20% off” without the items actually being on sale. Beware of items on the shelf marked with language like “As Advertised”, or “Advertised Special”. These items may well be on sale, or they may not. All this wording means is that the item was advertised at that price, not that the price is a sale price. You may not be getting a deal at all, but the merchant is banking on you making the assumption that the price shown is a deal.