When researching large purchases, many savvy web shoppers take the time to explore forums devoted to the types of products they intend to buy, as these forums can be the best source of relevant information.
One of the most attractive aspects of the Internet is that it is open to everyone, and it allows for individuals to post information easily about an infinite number of topics, products, and ideas. For those of us who use the Internet to make important purchases, it is perhaps the most effective tool at our disposal. When contemplating a significant purchase, it is always a great idea to get online and start searching for reviews of that particular product and to get a feel for exactly what the product should cost and who may be offering the best deals.
The more expensive or complex the product, the more research is required and the more shoppers will benefit from hearing detailed accounts of those who have purchased the product in the past. Sometimes there are numerous reviews on a given product available through respected sites like Amazon, or through review services like Yelp or TripAdvisor. In some cases, however, it is best to search for forums where a given product is discussed. High-end gadgetry and electronics are almost always discussed in great detail in related forums.
Unlike retail websites, where simple reviews may reside, forums allow for fluid discussion about a variety of issues related to a given product, and can provide much greater insight for prospective buyers. In addition to more detailed information and interactive conversations, forums also offer at least the possibility that a buyer can gauge the credibility of those in the conversation. Forums typically require posters to create an account with their service and post under a user name that will track how many posts they’ve made on the forum and their status within the forum, which is often tied to the number of posts made.
In this manner, those researching buying decisions can get a feel for the level of authority they can assign to the comments and information provided in forum posts. While this is certainly not fail-safe, it only takes a little time before you become comfortable determining which forums and individual posters are likely to be offering you credible information.
Ironically, sometimes the most valuable information can be obtained by reading the forum posts of individuals who were not happy with a product you are researching. Obviously, if a post is able to dissuade you from making the purchase based on the information it provides, then there is a direct benefit. But I often find myself confirming a purchase decision based on the negative experiences of forum posters. This is not to say that I discount the information they’ve provided, it’s just that the problems they cite will sometimes serve to reinforce my suspicions about a given product and how I intend to use it. If a product offers features that I don’t necessarily want or need, and a forum user’s problems lie solely in those features, then I know that I’m on the right track. Especially if a product is priced lower because of shortcomings in areas that are of no consequence to me.
Finding and reading forum posts about potential purchases is going to be more time-consuming than simply reading the reviews through retail websites. But it will also allow a much more focused picture of the product, and detailed information about the experiences that prior purchasers have had. Investment in pre-purchase research could eventually save you money and the inevitable disappointment that comes from not doing your homework on a major purchase.