Consumer spending habits have changed; cash and cheques have been replaced by ‘plastic’ and increasingly the Internet and the supermarket have caused the corner shop and the ‘high street’ to struggle. These are trends that are unlikely to change.
Once the World Wide Web became accepted as a safe place to purchase things ecommerce shot ahead as one of the most popular shopping options. There were some initial concerns about providing confidential financial details to a screen, but payment gateways have persuaded consumers that their confidentiality can be maintained.
Added to this the realisation by many businesses that websites could do a very effective marketing job for them in all sectors of business and it is easy to understand why many companies are increasingly turning to the Internet to promote and sell their products and services.
What are the benefits?
There are two major factors that have reinforced this change of behaviour; convenience and price. The local stores may provide a personal service but the purchasing power of the ‘giants’ has meant they can inevitably undercut the price that those stores need to sell at to be profitable.
Local may seem convenient, but ordering online in the comfort of your own lounge and having your purchases delivered to your door takes some beating.
There is another factor to take into consideration when doing your regular monthly spending. If you do it in an organised and structured way there are reward points that you can earn towards airline tickets, ferries, accommodation, and package holidays. There is even a simple online calculator to let you know the number of points you may gather on a monthly basis and what those points can buy you over a period of time.
Where can you spend?
That is a broad question, but using specific credit cards is one way and shopping at particular outlets is another; all your monthly groceries can be done at a supermarket that will give you points. Similarly, if your monthly fuel is bought in a particular way you receive points and the competitive price you have always received.
There is really only one way to buy online and that is with ‘plastic’. Once again that is an opportunity for points. If you use membership of a reward scheme which has most travel products covered, you may find that you can actually buy what you would normally, but through a reward scheme, and get additional reward points for doing so as a bonus.
You may have your eye on a particular ‘gift’; a ticket to the Caribbean for example. You can actually buy that from the company for cash as well as trade in some of your points and add the balance in cash. However, you can also wait and get the ticket purely for points when you reach your reward target.
You will not really need to change your spending habits too drastically to be able to take advantage of a rewards membership. Perhaps you will need to think about things when you first start out but everything will become second nature and convenient very soon. You could soon be winging your way across the Atlantic for that dream holiday.
Steve Smith writes on a freelance basis and lives in Turkey. His writing covers a range of topics from current affairs and economics to consumer affairs and credit card Avios.