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10 Rules for Back-to-School Online Shopping

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- The heart of back- to-school shopping season, the second biggest shopping time of the year, means everyone is out to score a great deal on clothing, notebooks, electronics and the usual necessities that come along with the new school year.

It's no surprise that more and more consumers are hunting for those back-to-school deals online. Almost 40% of consumers will shop online during the back-to-school shopping season, compared to just over 21% in 2007, according to the National Retail Federation. But just because the migration to the web for outfitting today's student is now established, it doesn't mean consumers have learned the best ways to find online deals.

Whether you're shopping for a grade school kid or a college student in need of a new laptop, TheStreet has compiled 10 must-know rules for finding the best back-to-school deals.

1. Coupons now come in 140 characters: use Twitter

Retailers are taking to social media sites to offer special coupons and alert consumers to sales. Aside from following your favorite stores on Facebook and Twitter, the website CouponTweet.com aggregates tweets with links to coupons. You can search by retailer, which features coupon-related tweets from Macy's and Sears, to name a few. Additionally, use the site to search for the money saving tweets based on what category of merchandise you're looking to purchase, whether it's apparel or electronics.

2. You get what you pay for, and you often can't "see" it, so look harder

When shopping online you're at a disadvantage in the sense that you can't physically see the product, as you would at a traditional bricks-and-mortar store. To get the most for your money when shopping online, it's important to learn as much about the product as possible.

"Sometimes products will have similar prices, while their specs are on opposite ends of the spectrum. To combat this, use sites such as PriceGrabber.com to compare similar electronics and appliances side by side and determine which gives you the most for your money," says consumer savings expert Andrea Woroch.

3. Timing a sale means being a historian

If only we could purchase everything at a discounted sale price, instead of discovering an item went on sale five minutes after we bought it. If you haven't been too successful lately at predicting when an item hits the sale rack, use history to help.

To get over that hump, the website CamelCamelCamel.com tracks prices of items on Amazon.com and will show you a graph of the historical prices of the item. You can see what months the specific item has gone on sale in past years, and time your purchases accordingly.

If you deduce from CamelCamelCamel.com that the LED television you're eyeing has gone on sale in November for the past two years, it might be wise (though a tad risky) to hold off until November to catch the next sale.

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