Sometimes it is nice to wander a store and look at what is available, pick things up and look at them or try on clothing. Other times you know exactly what you want by make and model. When you do, and it is a significant purchase, you will surely want to look around for the best price. However, with perhaps thousands of online stores offering the that same item, it’s often hard to determine the best price. Here are 5 tips that will give you the edge to find the best deal.
A regular Google search for a brand name product will usually give you thousand of hits. The stores that are at the top of the list didn’t get there by being the best price. They did it by mastering search engine optimization or by paying for a sponsored position. To get the best prices that Google knows about, click the “Shopping” link at the top of the page. The results will switch to a list or grid of product listings with prices. Sort the list by price, listed in order of lowest to highest. This will put the lowest prices at the top. Check the shipping prices on the top few items. If the cheapest store has expensive shipping, it might not be as good of a deal as the next one down the list, that has free shipping.
If you know of a store website that has had consistently decent prices and good customer service, join their weekly or monthly newsletter. They will send you their specials and even secret “newsletter subscriber only” sales, to reward your loyalty. If you use Gmail for these subscriptions, you can choose to have such ads set to the “Promotions” tab, instead of your regular inbox. Then they are “out of sight, out of mind.” Drop by your promotions box every few days or wait until you are shopping for something. A couple examples of companies that have good email deals are Lucky Vitamin, who carries 1000’s of vitamins and supplements, and Shutterfly, who makes photo prints and imprinted items like coffee mugs or calendars. Often their emails will offer completely free items, like 50 free 4×6 prints or a custom printed photo book, to be had just for the price of shipping.
Groupons has tens of thousands of business clients that offer deals on their service. Their new coupon pages, like this one from the shoe company Puma, will offer you discount codes or secret sales that you can save you up to 50% or more.
Price Matching + Loyalty Rewards
You may have a loyalty reward card for some stores already. They reward your continued patronage by percentage off discounts or give you cash bonuses after you spend a certain amount of money. When you shop in their brick-n-mortar stores, you can usually ask a clerk or a manager to honor the price of a competitor. For example, if you are in an electronics store, buying a TV, check online prices on your phone. Even if the store does not “officially” price match, show them the online ad and ask nicely for them to match the deal. 9 times out of 10 they will. Combine that with the discount you get from your loyalty rewards card and you may have just gotten the best price plus a 10-20% discount.
Ebay Auction Stalking
Ebay has experienced sellers and inexperienced sellers. They also have people who have no idea the true value of what they are offering, either on auctions or “buy it now” items. Sometimes people just make a typo on the price, but then honor the ridiculously low price, to protect their seller rating. Once-in-a-lifetime deals happen on Ebay, for lucky buyers. You just have to be in the right place at the right time to find them. If you are looking for an item, and your purchase is not time sensitive, set up an alert to have Ebay email you when that item comes up for sale. When you see a bargain, pounce on it.
Learn these tips and you will get very quick at the techniques. You will be able to find the best price to be had within a minute or two. It will be a very good use of your time.