Shop Safely Online in 2021: Top Tips for Savvy Shoppers

In 2019, online sales surpassed those in traditional retail for the first time ever, and the trend is set to continue through 2021 and beyond. We’re shopping online more than ever, but we’re also facing cybercrime at a level that was unimaginable just five years ago.


Staying safe and keeping your financial details secure is more important than ever. To that end, here are six tips for savvy online shoppers in 2021.


1. Encrypt your traffic with a Virtual Private Network (VPN)

Whether you’re doing the weekly grocery shop or digitally perusing swimsuits, it’s wise to encrypt your traffic before you enter any financial details into an online store’s checkout page. And one of the best ways to do that is with a VPN.


What VPNs do is create a private browsing network, and in the process, these handy cybersecurity tools also encrypt any data in transmission. This makes it nigh on impossible for any would-be hackers to see your activity, let alone spy on it.


Online shoppers can find other perks in VPNs, too. Because you can adjust your server location, your IP address is also adjusted. If you’re in the US, for example, but connect to an Australian server, your IP address shows as from Australia. This means you can access location-specific deals.


Better security and better prices — it’s a win-win in anyone’s book.


2. Watch out for fake apps

While the majority of the app in both Apple and Google’s app stores are legitimate, a few fraudulent apps do make it through the companies’ security protocols, and many of these are fake shopping apps.


These are specifically designed to steal your financial or personal information, which is then sold in criminal forums or otherwise used for financial gain.


Avoiding fake apps is a matter of precaution; read reviews before you download a shopping app and ensure that the app you’re looking at matches the app promoted by the retailer on its own website.


3. Don’t use open public wifi to shop

Free public WiFi connections, such as the networks available in airports and city centers around the world, may be a boon when it comes to convenience but they represent a significant cybersecurity risk. Because these networks are easily compromised, your internet activity is not protected when you use these networks.


Experts caution against using public wifi for any kind of banking or online shopping. If you have no choice and you must use public WiFi, make sure your VPN is turned on first.


4. Manually enter your credit card details

Punching in your financial information for each transaction you make might be tedious, but it is certainly a lot safer than allowing online stores to remember your credit card details. If a store experiences a data breach, your account, and your credit card details, can be compromised.


Instead, enter your details manually for each transaction. It might take longer, but the extra time is more than worth the added layer of security.


5. Use a browser add-on to find the best deals

Now that we’ve looked at how to stay secure while online shopping, let’s take a look at how to maximize your savings.


Using a browser extension such as Honey is an easy way to boost your savings. The extension automatically finds and applies coupon codes while you shop, so you get the greatest discount possible without having to find codes and coupons, or copy and paste for that matter.


6. Stay on the online grocery shopping bandwagon

During the height of the pandemic, many consumers were forced to avoid grocery stores and do their weekly shopping online for the first time. Perhaps unsurprisingly, many people report that they prefer online grocery shopping to physically hitting the isles.


Shoppers report a lower weekly spend and a decreased spend of “bad” impulse foods such as chips and chocolates. Sticking with online grocery shopping means cheaper food bills and a healthier diet for most people, so why not continue in 2021?


Love it or hate it, online shopping is here to stay. Whether you’re a season online shopper or you’ve become one courtesy of COVID-19, our top tips should keep you safe and secure online in 2021, and save you some hard-earned cash along the way.