Online comparison shopping is a user-friendly, gasoline-saving, crowd-avoiding way of finding out the information you need to make an informed purchase, without having to deal with salespeople who have no real knowledge. When your toaster oven kicks the bucket and you walk into an appliance store uninformed, the salesperson who meets you at the door might try to sell you on the high-tech features of the cobalt blue Toasteroo 150, and it sounds like a great deal for a great price. But you have no way of knowing whether or not the store manager accidentally overstocked last year's Toasteroo 150 model and is just trying to clear them off the shelves in the warehouse. Luckily, thanks to the Internet, it is now easier to read up on a product instead of just going to a store and trusting a salesperson to offer you a product that will suit your needs perfectly.
Instead of heading to the mall and making an impulse buy by simply looking at a display model, head to your computer. To find comparison pricing for major items carried in chain department store chains, you can go to each store's website and see if they sell it, and what their price is. Although that will take less time than driving to each store, you're still limited to browsing for stores that you're familiar with―and there are plenty of stores available online that you've probably never even heard of. And what do you do if you don't know anything about the product? Comparison shopping online saves you the time you spend in physically going from place to place to find the best deal, and gives you access to many more stores and vendors besides the ones within driving distance―and many more product options―all with the click of a mouse.
After you've decided on one or more versions of a product you're interested in, it's time to go look for the best deal. If you are seeking to compare prices from one company to another, there are several terrific websites that can assist you with this. Two of the most useful, expansive, and user-friendly comparison shopping sites are mySimon and BizRate Shopping Search. Items are grouped by department, just like in a brick-and-mortar store, and you can also browse items based on the site's shopping picks, product reviews, and the top-rated products in each department.
There are a couple of important differences; BizRate offers user reviews so you can read other people's experiences with products. mySimon not only lists the vendors that sell the item you are comparing, but it also rates the Web integrity of each company, and you can enter your zip code to get the total price of each item including shipping. The item and vendors who sell similar items are listed as well as reviews of the products.
The crown jewel of comparison shopping sites is most likely PriceSCAN, which offers all the same features as the other shopping sites, but also lets you search for 'functionally equivalent' products―items that meet the same specifications as the item you're researching, but that might save you money while delivering exactly the same quality and service. PriceSCAN offers price comparisons, product reviews, and vendor ratings, just like the other shopping sites, but it also has blogs where site visitors can discuss hot topics and consumer issues.
Speaking of consumer issues, you can also use the Internet to access the granddaddy of consumer information. Consumer Reports has delivered detailed recommendations and evaluations of consumer products for over 70 years, while maintaining a reputation for objectivity. Published by Consumers Union, an independent nonprofit organization, Consumer Reports has a stated mission to work for a fair, just, and safe marketplace for all consumers, and to empower consumers to protect themselves. CU accepts no outside advertising or free test samples, and has no agenda other than researching the interests of consumers. Consumer Reports is one of the most noted names in resources for product information, and their website contains thorough information about a wealth of consumer products from toys to automobiles, and even items as diverse as diet plans and vacation destinations. For information about products and their performance, Consumer Reports is your first place to visit.
One important good feature of online comparison sites is that you can look at stores you have never considered that may have items you are seeking. All comparison shopping sites have search utilities and most have A-Z indexes to make your searching easier.
There's no doubt that online comparison shopping can save you a lot of time and a lot of money, no matter what item you're comparing. For example, looking on mysimon.com, a Citizen Eco-Drive Blue Angels Skyhawk Men's Watch is $333.50, including shipping, from Jacob Time. The same item from Zappo.com also has free shipping, but costs $436.00! That's over $100 you can save just with a few clicks of the mouse! As this example shows, you can actually save a lot of money with just a few clicks and a few minutes of your time.
Nowadays it's difficult to find a bargain locally without driving all around town and trudging through store after store checking price tags. However, if you use the Internet instead to do your comparison shopping, you will be able to save some cash. Then you can combine the time you've saved with the money you've saved and take some well-deserved time off―but be sure to shop online for a good vacation deal first!