Best Ways To Buy Stuff With Free Delivery

Buying online generally offers the best deals, but by the time you've factored in postal costs, the deal doesn't always look so good. Here's some of our favourite tactics for getting free shipping when you shop online.

Picture by cmahon

According to Sensis, 61% of Australians have ordered goods or services online. On the other hand, we clearly don't have an online shopping culture that has spawned any category-straddling giants like Amazon. I've always figured that a reason for this is a relatively slow and expensive postal service (unless you utilise Express Post), combined with courier services which manage to become more incompetent and expensive every year. (I deal a fair bit with couriers as part of my job, and there isn't a single company in Australia that I would consider even vaguely up to scratch.)

Regardless, delivery costs can often make the difference between ordering online and heading off to the shops. If it's an item you'll only be able to get online -- a rare book or an odd electronic component -- saving on the postage can still be useful. Here's some of the basic tactics that are useful for getting free delivery.

eBay

eBay actively encourages its sellers to offer postage-free options, most recently in its announcement of a local classifieds service. That relies on picking up the goods yourself, but you can also easily identify items which don't attract delivery charges.

Hit ebay's Advanced search page and scroll down to 'Postage options' and tick 'Free postage', then enter your search terms at the top of the page. Depending on your category, you may not get a lot of results, but it's worth checking.

Books

The one to beat in this area is The Book Depository, which, as we've pointed out once or twice before, offers free shipping worldwide. That said, it's worth double-checking on (another Lifehacker favourite) to see if you can get it cheaper (especially if it's an Australian-published title).

If you're travelling to the US or UK, Amazon's Super Saver free postage on larger orders can seem tempting for books (and many other categories). However, if you're staying in a hotel, bear in mind that you may get hit with charges for receiving goods.

Electronics

When it comes to gadgets, it's usually a case of keeping your eye out for good deals (or trawling eBay using the technique mentioned above). Apple, for instance, didn't charge shipping on the iPad when it was released recently; Kogan doesn't charge for goods that are ordered ahead of the ship date. Using a price comparison site like staticICE is also a handy way to find cheap or free shipping if you've got a specific device in mind.

While those are all good basic tactics, I'm sure Lifehacker readers have other go-to locations and techniques for getting free delivery. Got your own favourite ways to avoid shipping or postage charges? Share them in the comments.

Lifehacker's weekly Loaded column looks at better ways to manage (and stop worrying about) your money.


Comments

    Booko.com.au is a brilliant site for working out the cheapest book PLUS postage

    dealextreme.com is awesome for chinese junk without postage.

    another lifehacker article which taught me nothing. anyone thats net-savvy enough to be a regular lifehacker reader, would already know about static ice, or ebays free delivery search option.
    and all these "saving money" articles on here lately have been next to useless. "instead of using a full serve of hand soap, use half" i think everyone knows that using things in smaller amounts equates to money saving.

    What happened to all the truly informative articles on lifehacker?

      If you're not getting anything out of the articles, then don't visit the site any more. This is the web, not school. You can leave any time.

      Personally, I was not aware of the eBay part, although I have use static ice for quite a while. I consider myself an advance internet user, but I don't know everything. Unlike, obviously, yourself.

    Luke - "i think everyone knows that using things in smaller amounts equates to money saving."

    So how much money did you save by not engaging the majority of your brain? Believe it or not, LifeHacker is aimed at a wider audience than just you.

    If you've got a a few books on your wishlist, Aussie site Fishpond.com.au offers free shipping for orders over $49. Prices are very competitive, a huge range of titles, and fares very well in Booko.com.au comparisons. It's fast becoming one of my favourite sites for purchasing books online.

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