A woman sits at her laptop and holds a credit card in her hand while making a purchase after shopping online.
A woman sits at her laptop and holds a credit card in her hand while making a purchase after shopping online.
December 3, 2020

Digital skills play key role in online holiday shopping

With many consumers shifting to online shopping in lieu of visiting stores amid the pandemic, digital financial awareness is more important than ever for safe and successful shopping on the web.

As consumers plan their 2020 holiday shopping, they’ll have much more than bows and wrapping paper on their minds. The COVID-19 pandemic has added some unnerving new phrases to the season’s lexicon — from “superspreader events” and “social distancing” to “positivity rates.” The virus’s latest surge is driving a huge wave of shoppers to look online for their holiday gifts this year. A CreditCards.com survey indicates 70% plan to do most of their holiday shopping online, up from 51% in 2019. Many retailers are preparing for the rising tide.

Practicing savvy digital skills

The big shift to online shopping makes digital financial tools more important than ever, consumer advocates say. From price comparison savings to safety and security practices, shoppers must be savvy when spending online.

Utilizing financial tools, like uploading your banking card to a digital wallet, provides for secured transactions that are fast and convenient and can help free up time for you to think about what to buy for that one person who is difficult to buy a present for.  

“A digital wallet is a fast, easy, convenient payment option for customers to purchase gifts online or in-store.” — Adam Vancini

“We are seeing a growing number of customers who are using digital banking services, like digital wallets,” said Adam Vancini, head of payments for Wells Fargo Deposit Products. “A digital wallet is a fast, easy, convenient payment option for customers to purchase gifts online or in-store.”

One of the biggest advantages of online shopping is the potential savings and value it offers shoppers, particularly when shopping with their card rewards in mind, said Krista Phillips, head of Card Products, Loyalty and Digital at Wells Fargo. “From special retailer discounts to card bonus categories and cash back, there are many opportunities for consumers to make the most of their holiday shopping, while earning card rewards that can be redeemed at a later time,” she said.

Know who you’re dealing with

“It’s the season for eggnog lattes, office parties, and lots of online shopping, but it’s also the most wonderful time of the year for hackers,” Consumer Reports said in a handy primer on safe digital shopping. It offers a number of tips, such as updating your antivirus software, avoiding phishing email attacks, creating stronger passwords, and setting up two-step authentication for all your accounts to help prevent unauthorized access.

Shoppers also should be wary of unfamiliar websites and apps. The Houston Chronicle offers some helpful tips on how to recognize suspicious websites and avoid potentially fraudulent online businesses. Consumer Reports advises shoppers to stick with the major app stores and be careful what permissions you grant the apps you use. Wells Fargo offers guidance on cyber smart holiday shopping and charitable giving.

Tips to make the most of online shopping

Large numbers of holiday shoppers enter and leave a crowded store.
A man smiles as he sits at a laptop.
A person wearing a holiday sweater sits in their living room at home and uses their tablet. In the background is a Christmas tree.
A man sits in front of the computer and his wife stands behind him. They both look at the screen and show expressions of delight at a deal they just found online.
In a closeup photo, a person has one hand on their laptop keyboard and the other one holding a credit card. Around the hands, there are numbers that suggest the card numbers and other data are being transmitted through the network.

Reduce exposure to holiday crowds

Digital shopping from the safety and comfort of your own home can reduce the need to go to public places during the pandemic.

Decision-making made easier

Through digital platforms, customer product reviews and price comparisons may be only a click or two away, allowing shoppers to make informed decisions faster.

Gift giving from home — sending money with Zelle®

Zelle allows enrolled customers to send and receive payments quickly with almost anyone with a U.S. bank account.1 The simplicity of Zelle makes it a great option for gift giving to family and friends this holiday season.

Take advantage of cashback offers

Some banks offer customers special discount programs. For eligible Wells Fargo’s consumer credit and debit cardholders, My Wells Fargo Deals delivers personalized cash back offers at major merchants nationwide.

Report fraud or other suspicious online activity

The Federal Trade Commission provides a complaint channel for consumers to blow the whistle on potentially illegal activity — online or otherwise.

1 Zelle and the Zelle related marks are wholly owned by Early Warning Services, LLC and are used herein under license.