We're going to discover a clever way to shop for deals online. This analysis will help you save money on your future online purchases, especially if you've ever been caught shopping online last minute.
To learn more about this process, I've created a step by step method which helps identify the cheapest prices on the web for some of the most sought after products.
Determine which product you are looking for and when you need it exactly
When searching for the best price deals, always have a specific product in mind along with a specific delivery date if the purchase is a gift for someone else.
In our example, I'm going to search for a Philips 20′ inch LCD TV.
Create a list of shopping networks to browse through
There are many online stores on the web, but we are only interested in a few shopping networks because they will display the average prices for most retailers.
Our first stop is eBay.com
The lowest eBay price is listed at $284 so this becomes our Price floor or Lowest Price Available. eBay often has the cheapest prices around.
Next, we'll conduct a Shopping.com query on our product to search the major retailers all at once.
From our search, Wal-Mart returned the lowest price at $390.94. We can safely deduce that shopping with eBay.com will be much cheaper than purchasing the product from a direct retailer. If you have an eBay account, then you may consider eBay an option, but for those of us that like to avoid online marketplaces, Wal-Mart, PC Connection, and LCDTVS.com are all possible options.
Begin searching for discounts on your desired product
Now that we have an idea on how much a third-party marketplace and direct retailer will cost us, we can now begin searcing for discounts online on that same product. Two great sites for finding discounted bargain items are Overstock and Dealcatcher.com.
Begin searching for additional rebates/rewards on your product
There are various programs online that offer shoppers cash back on purchases through their web site. Ebates, BondRewards, and My Points are three rewards programs that every online shopper should sign up for.
Calculate which retailer/marketplace offers the lowest price
You've done all your homework and are ready to make a purchase. We can now purchase the TV (or whatever product we researched) from the cheapest source available. Reverting to our original example, eBay offers the lowest price for the Philips 20 inch LCD TV.
Figure out the best payment option depending on your financial situation
This step is absolutely crucial and should never be skipped. Depending on your own financial situation, you may want to use a credit card, debit card, cash, or check for your purchase.
Why is this step crucial? Because the amount you'll pay varies on each method of payment.
For example, if your credit card APR is 10%, you're paying $284 plus an additional $28 for the LCD TV through eBay. If you used cash/debit card instead, you enjoy the luxury of no interest fees and no future bills to pay. Of course if your credit card offers 0% APR, purchase the item and pay for it before the introductory 0% APR period runs out. For more information on handling credit cards, visit our Finance category.
Talk to one other person before you make your purchase
Can you afford this purchase? Is it a reasonable buy? or Would you be better off saving your money? These are all questions many shoppers have in mind, but sometimes these questions never seem to get answered.
Erase any doubt about your purchase and talk to a friend or family member before you fork over the cash. You may find out that your desired product is unreliable or even cheaper elsewhere just by sharing information with other person. If you still have questions about a purchase, try e-mailing the manufacturer or listing your question in a message board.
Use all your collected data and research to arrive at a final shopping decision
Use all your questions, collected data, and research to reach a final shopping decision. Should you buy it or not? If you have any doubts about a product, then the answer is probably no.
There are always alternatives and substitutes to every product available online. If you're searching for a specific product, try a competitior's model or a generic version. You may find out that the substitute varies little if at all from your original dream product.
Step 1 – Determine which product you are looking for and when you need it exactly.
Step 2 – Create a list of shopping networks to browse through.
Step 3 – Begin searching for discounts on your desired product.
Step 4 – Begin searching for additional rebates/rewards on your product.
Step 5 – Calculate which retailer/marketplace offers the lowest price.
Step 6 – Figure out the best payment option depending on your financial situation.
Step 7 – Talk to one other person before you make your purchase.
Step 8 – Use all your collected data and research to arrive at a final shopping decision.
Bargain Hunting Blogs:
Tarik Pierce is the founder of InvestorTrip.com and regularly contributes articles to this website.
While living overseas, he uses PureVPN for a low cost VPN service.
He recommends Bluehost for setting up your own personal and/or business blog.
While his background is mostly related to trading stocks, he recently gained interest in real estate crowdfunding with Fundrise.