VPNs do much more than hide your IP address, they change how you're able to interact with the world of online shopping. By taking control of your presence online, you can access a range of shopfronts and add more security to your shopping experience. Here are a few examples of how a VPN can make a difference:
- Travel - Prices offered by some travel-based websites for things like hotels, car rentals, and plane tickets will occasionally be cheaper depending on where the shopper is physically located. Changing your IP address can open up access to any regional discounts that would otherwise be locked by your current location.
- Online Shopping - Online retailers will sometimes offer discounts to customers based on their location. Changing your IP address with a VPN will give you access to any region-based prices.
- Security - Shopping online can be dangerous if you aren't careful. Using a VPN will both hide your IP address and can encrypt your traffic to obscure your personal information from any would-be hackers.
Choose a VPN service
First, we need a VPN server to connect to. You'll need to research what provider you want to ultimately go with. Paid services tend to be the most reliable. Here are some questions to ask before choosing a VPN service.
- How much are the service fees?
- Is there a limit to how many devices I can use?
- What features does the service provide?
- Is the service compatible across multiple platforms?
If you're not sure where to start, check out NordVPN. We've had the chance to review their services ourselves and know it's capable for the purposes of this guide.
Set up your VPN service
Once you choose a platform, you'll need to set up a VPN connection. The exact details of this process will vary depending on the VPN provider you're using.
But in most cases, you'll need to:
- Install the VPN client
- Create an account
- Choose a VPN server to connect to.
If given many options, consider the location of the server you connect to as this will be the location your machine registers as while browsing.
Connect to a VPN server
Determine the best server to connect to. Some factors to consider would be region, connection strength, and availability.
Once you choose a server connect to it and wait for confirmation that the connection has been established.
Now when you access online stores, your IP address will be obscured and your location will be detected by websites as your VPN server location. Changing locations is as easy as changing servers.
When you're ready, load up an online store and get to shopping! There are several different ways you could go about using your VPN when shopping. We'll throw in a few extra tips on how to make the most of your VPN service while shopping.
Using a VPN will encrypt your network traffic and obscure your IP address while shopping. This adds an extra layer of security while you browse through various stores. Before you connect to your VPN, double-check your current IP address. If you're not sure how to find it, check out our guide on how to find your IP address on Windows 10. Take note of your current IP, we'll need it to make sure the VPN is working.
Using step 2 above, connect to your VPN service and log in to a server. When the service confirms you have established a connection, check to see if your IP address has changed.
If the IP is in fact new, then you know for sure the VPN is working and it's safe for you to shop.
Shopping internationally requires using a specific VPN server location to access the region-locked storefront you want to shop from. First, determine where the website needs you to be located in order to browse.
Once you know the required region, open your VPN service. Using step 2 above, connect to a VPN server. Make sure it's listed in the location you need to be in order to access the store.
Access the international website or refresh the page once the VPN server connection has been established. The website should now recognize you as being located in the appropriate region to view the store.
Some websites will change prices for visitors either randomly or based on location. This is due to marketing strategies where things like split testing is used to see how different groups respond to different prices. If you want to try poking around for cheaper prices, hopping onto a VPN will trick these websites into treating you like a brand new customer.
- Take note of prices on specific items you want to buy. Copy the product URL.
- Using steps 1 - 3 above, connect to a VPN server.
- Try accessing the product pages using the URLs you documented from before and see if the price has changed.
If the prices aren't changing, you can always try switching to a VPN server at a different location. However, if the price stays consistent, it may not be split and a VPN won't change anything.
It's common for travel-based vendors to list different prices based on the location of the person searching for things like hotels, flights, and other travel accommodations. If you want to try finding a better deal, shopping with a VPN might help.
- Look up travel offers and take note of the prices before you access the VPN. You'll need a baseline to see whether or not the VPN is making a difference on the prices you're seeing.
- Using step 2 above, access a VPN server.
- Access the website again to see if the travel prices have changed. If they haven't, you can disconnect from your current server and try another one.
Using a VPN isn't always a guaranteed method of finding alternative prices, but it is a useful trick to have up your sleeve that can sometimes save you money in a pinch.