How To Win At Online Shopping

dealsthumb   How To Win At Online ShoppingOnline shopping has a reputation for amazing deals. We’ve all heard stories of how someone’s friend or relative managed to buy this or that for a fraction of its normal retail price. Such things do happen – but, in truth, most online deals are only marginally better than those in retail shops. And some aren’t great at all.

The real benefit of online shopping is information. All the price comparison data in the world is at your fingertips if you know how to access it. With some careful and quick research it’s possible to consistently snag excellent prices.

Is That a Good Price?

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Price is the key to any good deal and is the place all online shopping research should begin. There are literally thousands of stores to buy from. The big ones, like Amazon, often have the best prices. But that’s not always the case.

If you need to search, where’s the first place to turn? Google, of course. Google Shopping remains an excellent go-to for bargain shoppers because it lists a large number of stores and it requires that stores list both an item’s base cost and its shipping cost. Sellers offering a low base price don’t always offer the lowest out-the-door price.

There are several other major names in this business. They include Pricegrabber, BizRate and Nextag. I prefer to use Google Shopping, but I must admit its interface is a bit busy and its search function isn’t always as accurate as I’d like. The dedicated price-comparison sites can be more intuitive.

Will The Price Go Down Soon?

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Once you’ve figured out if a price is good right now it’s worth thinking about if a price is historically competitive. Some items fluctuate up and down over time. Winter coats, for example, tend to be more expensive in winter than in summer.

That’s where price tracking comes in. Some sites are able to provide detailed price history graphs of certain stores. This will help you decide if buying now is wise or if waiting a few months could save a few bucks.

My favorite price tracking site is Camelcamelcamel. This site works for Amazon, Best Buy and Newegg and can provide detailed price histories for items listed on each. On Amazon it also tracks third-party vendor and used item pricing. Better still, the site offers an extension for Chrome and Firefox called the Camelizer.

There are a lot of other competitors in this space, but most only watch Amazon and are frankly inferior to Camelcamelcamel. The only alternative I recommend is The Tracktor, which has a constantly updated list of items on Amazon ranked by the how much their price has recently dropped.

Where Can I Find Awesome Deals?

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If you’d like to find an awesome price, yet you’re not looking for a specific product, deal sites are the way to go. Shoppers can find some incredible value on them. Here are my personal favorites.

Fatwallet - This site has been around for years and is the benchmark other deal sites aspire to. It has an excellent selection of products and also lists both coupon deals and cash-back offers. Most shoppers could browse this site alone and be happy with what they find.

Slickdeals - Like Fatwallet, Slickdeals uses a thumbnail-based design on most of its pages. It actually manages to fit more on a page, however, and is easier to navigate thanks to a larger header with more navigation options. I prefer to use Slickdeals if I’m on a PC with 1600×900 resolution or greater.

TechBargains - This is the place to go if you’re interested only in electronics. It tends to focus on big-ticket items like tablets, laptops and televisions. The site is simple, easy to navigate and tends to focus on deals more than coupons (though it does have a coupon section).

Amazon Gold Box - This sub-section of the Amazon website constantly lists new deals that are available for a limited time. Some of them are quite good and it’s possible to browse deals by category.

Warehouse & Outlet Deals Can Rock Too

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Most of the major online retailers, including some original manufacturers with online stores, now have an outlet or warehouse store. Amazon has a Warehouse Deals sub-site, Newegg commonly lists open-box and refurbished items, and Overstock.com is basically dedicated to this sort of stuff. Electronic companies like Lenovo, Dell and Sony maintain outlet sites, as well.

These are awesome places to find good deals. Most of the products listed are returns that have nothing wrong with them at all. These aren’t marketed off significantly, but they’re essentially the same as a brand new-product and sold for 10% to 25% less.

Scratch and dent items are where the real savings can be found. A television with a small scratch in the screen may be hundreds less than the same brand-new. Buyers who don’t mind a small imperfection can save a lot of money – and these deals are consistently available.

Conclusion

Remember that a the online shopping tools listed here are not either/or alternatives. You’ll find the best deals if you use a wide variety of sources to gain information about what’s hot and what’s not. It only takes a second to open another deal site or check prices on Camelcamelcamel. Take the time and you’ll save a ton.

Buyers who love Amazon should check out our Amazon shopping guide. It’s currently in the works and provides even more information about how to save money when shopping on the world’s largest retailer.

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13 Comments -

0 votes

Piotr Byzia

…and if you prefer to discover new items and keep your shopping lists on your Mac, then Goodies is your friend (http://goodiesapp.com/) :-)

I must admit that some of these tools look promising and I’d consider integrating them in Goodies, thanks for sharing.

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Sean A

Ive heard of Google shopping (and used it) but the other tools may be just if not more useful when Christmas shopping. Thanks!

0 votes

Ron Lister

Thanks for all the cool new sites to check out, good article I still have some holiday shoping left to do.

0 votes

NotoriousZeus

Thank You Thank You Thank You..
I hope I get a sweet deal on that sweet Nikon D7000. I’ve been waiting for long.

0 votes
0 votes

Terafall

Now I know when and where to shop

0 votes

Brian Ramkerrysingh

You have not commented on http://www.dealnews.com ‘s website. I prefer this web site, although it is owned by Apple, it has a better layout than Fatwallet. Furthermore, in my opinion, fatwallet’s site has too many menus that you have to click on. Techbargains and Dealnews are really the best, because with Techbargains, even though they give you a synopsis of the deals past and present, they also have other deals with specs on the sides.

0 votes

Samarth Hegde

Hey!!! its not even safe entering many of these!!! People try to steal ip!!! We must be vv careful …… hmmm… we must choose trusted sites!!! like ebay ,amazon… any wayz good one!! :D

0 votes

Samarth Hegde

Hey!!! its not even safe entering many of these!!! People try to steal ip!!! We must be vv careful …… hmmm… we must choose trusted sites!!! like ebay ,amazon… any wayz good one!! :D

0 votes

Rob

Very useful article. I may forward it to a few people so that I can cut down on the number of “find me the best deal on this” requests this holiday season. :)

The only thing I would add is a suggestion to also look at coupon sites. A “deal” may not be that great to begin with, but a coupon code for free shipping, X% off you’re seeking to buy, or some other promotion (i.e. free breadsticks with a pizza delivery, etc.) can sweeten it significantly. Of those sites, http://www.retailmenot.com is the biggest and probably the best. But a Google search for “[vendor] coupon code” is the most thorough way to find such coupons.

0 votes

Jim Spencer

I think you are right! There is no single magic bullet for online shopping for the best bargains! I find that the key is not to rush too quickly into what “looks” like a genuine steal, because often it has expensive extras not advertised.

0 votes

Dhaval Patel

use plugins available for firefox or chrome to find the right price

0 votes

Mark

http://pricetracker24.com/ is great amazon price tracker as well.