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10 Rules for Back-to-School Online Shopping

4. Be alert by setting online alerts

"If you see an item online, you can sometimes set up alerts for when it does go on sale," says savings expert Jeanette Pavini with Coupons.com.

Check retailers' websites to see if they offer alerts, too.

Additionally, PriceBlink is an app for your web browser (available on Chrome, Firefox, Safari and Internet Explorer) that not only compares prices of items, but will alert you if there are any available coupons associated with the item you're looking to purchase. So if you're shopping on BestBuy.com, for example, a PriceBlink browser bar will appear on the top of the window with a drop-down list of coupon codes for that retailer.

5. Don't forget that bricks-and-mortar hasn't surrendered in the pricing war

The bricks-and-mortar stores aren't letting the online retailers take all of the business. They are offering discounts too. Whether shopping online or on the pavement, finding the best deals is the art of the shopping experience.

Don't think there is a scientific law that states any online promotion will beat every in-store price.

"There are promotional items that are only available online -- it's important to see what the online prices are, factor in the coupon code and compare this amount with the prices in-store," Pavini cautions.

Even when the best price is online, there's often a deal within a deal. If you see a space to enter in a coupon code, don't leave that box blank. Many times a simple Google search for promotional codes related to the item you're looking to buy is the answer to scoring the best deal.

6. Search for free shipping codes

The downside to shopping online is often the cost of shipping. A few clicks, however, can result in free shipping, which is a term online shoppers love to hear. We're talking about websites like FreeShipping.org, which instead of reducing the price of the actual item, offers codes that simply remove the price of shipping.

Don't automatically assume that the biggest retailers have the best shipping deals. A recent search for an item on Target, Toys 'R Us and Amazon didn't merit free shipping for any time frame other than two weeks because of the low price-point. However, a boutique toy site was offering free two-day shipping for the same product at the same price (plus a free pack of batteries to go with it).

7. Use free trials to get free shipping from retailers

How does two-day free shipping sound? The website ShopRunner.com offers just that at dozens of retailers, including Calvin Klein, Lord & Taylor and American Eagle Outfitters. After the site's thirty-day free trial, you'll be charged a monthly fee of $8.95 to be able to score this two-day free shipping from the site's participating retailers.

Depending on how often you shop online, the savings could potentially pay for the membership fees. Otherwise, just remember to cancel that free trial once your free-shipped product has arrived.

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