The Internet truly has changed a lot about our daily lives. Social sites (Facebook, MySpace) allow us to communicate quickly and often with friends that we may not have seen since High School. Banking has taken on a whole new look with instant access to see and move money around. E-mail, web cams and instant messaging allows us to communicate with people across the globe as if they are right there next to us.
These are all huge changes that we have all adjusted to and are taking advantage of. However, one of the largest changes is for shopping. Now you can buy anything at all without leaving the comfort of your home or without even being dressed. (Truly gives a new meaning to “No Shoes, No Service”). But, that is just the start. You also have access to thousands of storefronts for comparison shopping. In the old days you had to get in the car and drive all over town to comparison shop. By the time you found the place with the best price, you’d already wasted your whole day away and spent any savings on gasoline. Even one up from having access to thousands of store fronts, there are many sites that will compare prices for you. Add to these benefits the ability to quickly find coupons, rate merchants, discuss with deals and brands with others and the list goes on.
Clearly, the possibilities for shopping have drastically changed, yet there are still large groups of people that aren’t taking advantage of these new possibilities (I say new, yet many of these have been around for years). You don’t even have to buy online in order to take advantage of these tools. Do the research and then buy in the store. Use the information to negotiate prices, or even help out friends and family with their shopping needs.
This overview points out some of the very helpful websites that you should bookmark for when you go shopping. Remember, there are literally thousands of sites out on the Internet that are intended to help folks with different aspects of shopping. These are but a few.
Very basic, these are sites that you can buy from. They offer large ranges of products and even the ability to resell through them (independent merchants can list their products within the larger community of products).
Amazon.com – Probably the worlds number 1 online retailer. This place has everything. You could spend months looking through all of their products. And when you finished, new stuff would have been added so you’d have to start again. Amazon offers some great shipping discounts (usually free when you order $25 or more). They also offer other retailers to sell items on their site (these products don’t usually qualify for the free shipping).
Buy.com – Started out as primarily a seller of computers and electronics, this has taken on an Amazon look to it where they have a large range of categories to choose from. Maybe not quite as extensive as Amazon, but growing every day.
Yahoo.com – Yes, this is the popular search engine back in the day. Now, while it still acts as a search engine, (I’m not so sure a popular one) it also offers shopping. Lots of items here as well.
Ebay.com – I’m sure you’ve heard of this one too. eBay started out as a way for individuals to sell and bid on other people’s stuff. Merchants quickly figured out that they could benefit from the community of visitors by offering this unique way to sell products as well. Now, eBay is the go to place if you are looking for low prices on slightly used products. You can also find new products as well. And, don’t think you have to wait till the auction is over. EBay offers many products with “Buy It Now” options.
These sites look for deals across many merchants and post them for visitors to see. If you happen to be looking for something that they’ve posted, you can save a great bit of money. Be warned, using these sites often create the urge to buy things that you don’t need, just because they find such great deals!!!
DealNews.com – Simple layout and good information. This site primarily was for electronics, but has expanded into including many categories.
Fleetingbuy.com – This little gem is a fairly new site that I stumbled upon. Same idea as DealNews above, but they have started merging the deals with the ability to buy directly on their site. They find the deals, and through merchant site integration, allow you to buy directly without having to link over to the merchant’s site. Saves you a few clicks. While it isn’t this way for all items, it helps to save time and minimize open windows.
These sites offer the same idea as the Deal Websites above, yet they allow registered users to submit deals. This generally means they have more stuff available, but it is usually more difficult to navigate through and find useful content. Don’t be fooled though, if you take the time to dig through these, you can find some great deals.
FatWallet.com – This site is interesting because if you buy items from a Fat Wallet partner, you get a portion of your sale credited to your account. Fat Wallet gets paid for referring you to these partner vendors and they pay you for making purchases.
SlickDeals.net – This one is somewhat known for its very critical following. Users critique and comment just about every posting that goes up. You can use this to your advantage though. Post a deal that you are interested in, wait 5 mins and go back and look at the comments. Someone might provide some good information on alternative places or products to buy. Lots of information here and somewhat difficult to navigate unless you know of a specific item you are looking for.
Lots of sites are also out there that track and provide coupons to online merchants. Getting ready to buy a product, before you do, check some of these sites to see if they offer any coupon codes that you can use to get a discount or free shipping.
Retail-Me-Not – Why pay retail. Just like I said above…search for a merchant, hopefully find a coupon.
Coupons.com – This one offers print coupons as well as integration with Retail-Me-Not (above) for online coupons.
Coupon Cabin – This is one of my favorites. Clean interface, lots of merchants and both print and online coupons.
These sites are dedicated to providing ratings and information for online merchants. Since anyone can start an online store and ask for your credit card information, these sites offer a valuable service. Shoppers post their experiences with different sites and you can read about it before you make a big mistake.
Reseller Ratings – This site is a bit busy, but it does what it says. Just try not to get distracted by the ads all over the place.
Like I mentioned before, this is barely scratching the surface with these services. Many other sites offer the same types of services. These tools are available to you and you should use them. They can save you time and money. As a savvy shopper, you have a responsibility to yourself to make the most of your shopping dollar.